A majority of parents in British Columbia are “content” with their children’s education, according to a new poll. This comes as teachers are locked in negotiations with the province over a new contract.
The Research Co. poll found 83 per cent of respondents said their child’s experience with the education system has been “very positive” or “moderately positive.”
A large majority of parents who responded to the survey said they are “very satisfied” or “moderately satisfied” with the quality of instruction their child is getting in English (73 per cent), science (72 per cent), social studies (72 per cent) and math (68 per cent).
According to those polled, large class size is the biggest problem facing the education system, with 21 per cent of respondents mentioning it as an issue. Sixteen per cent of polled parents mentioned a “shortage of teachers” and 15 per cent cited a “lack of safety in schools and bullying.”
“The education system faces different challenges across British Columbia,” Research Co. President Mario Canseco said.
“Large class sizes are an enormous anxiety in Northern B.C., while residents of Southern B.C. are more likely to point to bureaucracy and mismanagement.”
Parents in Northern B.C. are more likely to say that class sizes are or have been “too big” (43 per cent ), followed by those who reside in
Southern BC (35 per cent), Vancouver Island (33 per cent), the Fraser Valley (30 per cent) and Metro Vancouver (28 per cent).
In a separate poll by Insights West, 78 per cent of those polled oppose providing taxpayer funds for elite or preparatory private schools in the province, with 60 per cent saying they strongly oppose the idea.
WATCH (aired Sept. 5, 2017): B.C. education minister on public education priorities
The study was conducted on behalf of the Institute for Public Education/British Columbia and First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition.
All private schools in the province receive public funding or a per-student basis. Most private schools also charge additional tuition fees.
“Given the overwhelming opposition to public subsidies for elite private schools and the importance of adequately funding public education, the B.C. Ministry of Education should discontinue these subsidies immediately,” Executive Director of the Institute for Public Education BC Sandra Mathison said.
“This should be followed by a plan to phase out subsidies to faith-based schools as well.”
Government funding for religious or faith-based schools is opposed by 69 per cent of British Columbians polled with 51 per cent strongly opposing the idea.
Education Minister Rob Fleming would not weigh in on whether funding for private schools should or would be cut.
“I think what the poll speaks to is after 16 years of underfunding the public education system that there is concern for the well-being of our schools,” Fleming said. “Parents have choices in British Columbia, it has been that way for decades.”
Results of the Research Co. poll are based on an online study conducted from May 20 to 28 among 700 parents in British Columbia who have a child enrolled in kindergarten, elementary school or high school. The data was statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia.