Northeast Sask. teacher among those at education rally

·3 min read

A teacher from the Northeast and one from Saskatoon were among those who travelled to Regina for a support about public education organized by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation.

Penny Mohr, from the Northeast and Tracy Glarvin, from Saskatoon, joined 3,500 teachers, education assistants, parents, seniors, youth and members of the public at the April 29 rally.

Mohr said the atmosphere was positive and uplifting, knowing there were so many people there supporting the same cause: funding education. There were several speakers including Samantha Becotte, STF president; Shauna Weninger, Regina Catholic School Division Board Chair; and Carla Beck, Leader of the Saskatchewan NDP.

Glarvin made the trip with three other friends who are teachers as well show their support for public education. Glarvin said the crowd was upbeat, but determined in their shared goal to improve educational supports and funding for all students and schools across the province.

At the rally, speakers pointed to layoffs, programs cancelled, overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources to kids. Samantha Becotte, President of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, pointed to teacher burnout and teachers leaving the province.

“Publicly funded public education is important, and they can’t continue to syphon money off and limit the resources and discredit what we’re doing in public education because everyone across this province deserves a high-quality education. I think we’re ready to stand up, we’re ready to demand more,” she said to reporters.

Mohr said that she has been at other rallies before but nothing like the diversity of the individuals and groups who represented the one voice in support of public education. Teachers were not the only ones there to show their support, many people in Saskatchewan who share the need for quality education made their voices heard. Trina Hodgson, who is a social worker and parent from Regina, was one of the speakers at the rally.

At the rally, speakers pointed to layoffs, programs cancelled, overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources to kids. They said that with increases in student populations, Saskatchewan has fallen from first to eighth in per student funding among Canada’s provinces. They added that from 2007-08, students requiring intensive supports increased by 38 per cent.

The government, however, had been pointing to the recent provincial budget as providing the largest funding to education in the province’s history. During Question Period, they had pointed to $2.1 billion in operational funding for school divisions, which is $50 million more than last year, and had called the 2.5 per cent increase the largest increase in operational funding in the last eight years.

On May 1, Premier Scott Moe told the Canadian Press the province would be adding millions in additional funding to education before November. He didn’t get into details about the amount.

“I think what’s more important than any of that is – if you’ve attended the rally or if you’ve reached out in any other way, or you have a parent of a child in school – that your government is listening, your government has been listening and will continue to listen,” Moe said.

Becotte said in a press release on May 2 that the province would have to add an estimated $400 million to restore funding back to 2012 levels when Saskatchewan led the country in per student funding.

Written with files from John Cairns, and Jeremy Simes, The Canadian Press.

Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal