‘Chronic underfunding’ keeps teachers from meeting student needs says STF President

Teachers and students are suffering the impacts of underfunded schools and lack of supports in classrooms in a time of complex needs, says the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF).

“We’ve been noticing a trend over the last several years where our classrooms are becoming more complex,” said STF president Samantha Becotte. “The needs that our students have are becoming more intense and diverse.

“Due to the chronic underfunding of education, we have fewer professional supports available in schools to help those students and ensure all their needs are met.”

Professional supports include psychologists and counsellors, speech and language pathologists, education assistants (EA) and more teachers.

Sasha Brown, a Grade 3 teacher at Marion McVeety School in Regina feels the strain.

“I have 32 kids in my classroom right now, which is far too many. Even if they were ‘average,’ it would still be too many,” said Brown.

Sasha Brown, a teacher at Marion McVeety School (photo courtesy of Sasha Brown)

Brown explained that half of her students are English as an Additional Language, some with little to no English-speaking skills.

“The amount of help that those kids get with language is not enough,” said Brown. “It’s wonderful to have such a mixed diversity in my classroom, I love it. It’s just not feasible that these kiddos come to me with zero English words. They’re just thrown in and we’re expected to play charades just to get their basic needs met.”

Brown also has 11 students with adaptations and learning goals in the classroom and six high-needs students.

“There is no possible way to meet all the goals of those kids without having a full-time EA in my classroom. I have [one EA] for about 45 minutes a day and that doesn’t cut it. There’s no way that I have enough time in a day to meet the goals of these kids,” said Brown.

Both Becotte and Brown said that teachers are struggling both emotionally and physically with the lack of supports.

According to Brown, “It’s draining. As much as I love what I do, it’s just not physically something that I can continue to do. I’m fearful that we’re going to be losing teachers because of the positions that we’ve been put in.”

Class Complexity – Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

The STF is holding a Rally for Public Education in April to demand more investment in schools and in students from the government, according to Becotte.

“They deserve better,” said Becotte. “We’re not able to provide them with the high-quality education that we want to provide them.”

For the time being, Becotte said, school divisions are trying to make creative solutions to deal with the lack of funding, but are still suffering from increasing class sizes, decreased professional supports and increased student ratios for remaining professional, and cut programming.

Some divisions, like the Living Sky School Division which serves the Battleford area, have developed fundraising initiatives to help support students and projects in the division.

“We have been hearing more from divisions about the needs that they have and the lack of funds available to support the students. Some divisions are at the point where they’re calling it a crisis, and we need all divisions to be talking about the difficulties that they’re facing,” said Becotte.

The Rally for Public Education will be held April 29 from 12-1 p.m. in front of the provincial legislature.

Feature image: Students walking into Marion McVeety School on Mar. 13, 2023.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In Depth
2 years ago
3 years ago
5 years ago
6 years ago