Vancouver COPE School Trustees are disappointed that Finance Minister Carole Taylor did not identify funding in today’s provincial budget for expanded kindergarten programmes that are desperately needed by “one in four vulnerable pre-school children.”
A February 15, report by the Auditor-General identified pre-schoolers as being particularly at risk of failure. "One of four BC children is developmentally vulnerable when beginning kindergarten."
COPE Trustees Allen Wong, Al Blakey and Sharon Gregson want to expand kindergarten programmes in order to provide necessary education and support services for those vulnerable children identified by the Auditor-General.
“Expanded, universal, free access to full time kindergarten should be available as of September 2009, in all public schools and not be under consideration for sometime in 2012,” said Trustee Wong. “It has been carefully documented that thousands of kids enter our schools lacking readiness and as a result increasingly fall behind, yet this government denies them this added assistance.”
The throne speech announced that the Ministry of Education will “consider” setting up a "study group" called the Early Childhood Learning Agency by 2010/2012. COPE trustees say this is just a delaying tactic by a government reluctant to invest in a proven early childhood initiative.
“The Early Childhood Learning Agency is yet another, expensive, bureaucratic obstacle to moving on much needed full day kindergarten in our schools”, said Trustee Blakey. “For over two decades the Vancouver School Board has had full day kindergarten classes, albeit, restricted by arbitrary entrance requirements. Now we are told that perhaps in four years time Victoria will consider funding this long overdue expansion."
Trustee Gregson noted that "what we see in BC is a provincial government that is marking time, that lacks a coherent early childhood program, and that is unwilling to invest for long-term gain, unlike other provinces such ad Ontario and Quebec that are doing something for their youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
“The current crisis in the availability of quality, publicly funded, child care is yet another example of where BC far lags behind other jurisdictions,” said Gregson.