Names not numbers …


GRAPH-PerStudent (1)

It’s common practice during political debates like the one we are currently engaged in over the future of public education in BC, to present numbers, facts and figures.  But, as Maya Angelou so eloquently said, facts can obscure truths. Truths that are far more disturbing.  Our human minds have a much harder time weighing abstract numbers than we do understanding the human stories behind the numbers.

I have been deeply moved by the stories that have emerged in the comments on my Casualty of Christy Clark’s Cuts post.  I am stunned that, as of this writing,  the post has 16 000 views ( and counting) over 3 days. What that tells me is that there are many people out there who can put names to the numbers of students who have fallen through the cracks caused by the gutting of public education funding in the province of BC.


I think their stories, the stories of the students behind the numbers, need to be told.  Any casualty of Christy Clark’s cuts to education funding over the past 12 years has a story that needs to be told.

Teachers know lots of these stories. It’s what we think about when we’re out on the picket line. It’s what we think about when we spend an average of $1000 a year on classroom supplies.

Parents of the children who have fallen through the cracks know these stories too.

There is the story of a student who is both gifted and has a learning disability and who managed to get all the way to Grade 10 because his giftedness hid his disability.

There is the story of a student for whom English was a third language and whose learning disability went undiagnosed for years because it was assumed he was not successful due to a language barrier.

Then there’s the story of a profoundly gifted student whose development was stunted because of a lack of adequate nutrition in his home.   This story is the most heartbreaking of all because students with this story have one preventable deficit.

Teachers who work in some areas of the province see too many students each day who simply cannot focus on learning because they have not eaten in days.

I continue to be perplexed by why there is no hue and cry about the fact that school breakfast programs are funded by a newspaper’s Adopt-A-School campaign.  Why is such a campaign necessary at all? Why does it exist in a province that found enough money to fund a Winter Olympics but does not have enough money to fully fund breakfast programs in schools?

BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada.  And yes, this is another set of numbers but behind those numbers are names of students and those names have stories.  Heartbreaking stories. Last year I did not know that a teen girl’s periods could stop due to a lack of adequate nutrition. I do now.

It is unconscionable that one of the richest provinces in Canada, one of the richest countries in the world, has such high rates of childhood poverty.

It is unconscionable that B.C. students are funded $1000 less each year than students in every other province in Canada except P.E.I.

It is beyond unconscionable that this government spends more time and energy on LNG than on the true vital resource of this province, its children.

Perhaps what will penetrate the conscience of politicians who hide the truth behind figures, is to tell the stories behind the numbers.

We need to name the numbers. Let’s tell the stories of the casualties that have fallen through the gaping holes in the public eduction system left by huge funding cuts.


If you are a parent of a child who did not get the help that was needed due to a lack of learning specialists or a long waiting list to see a school psychologist, please tell your story.

Reveal the stories that the numbers obscure.

You can do this by leaving a comment here or you could send your story to a local newspaper or you could send it to your MLA.

Our children are not just numbers.

Our children should be  seen and their stories should be heard.

7 thoughts on “Names not numbers …”

  1. I have three children. My oldest did not complete high school. He had no visible barriers aside from not having his work done or completed. After several years he was assessed. They determined he was unable to complete the work because he was overwhelmed by how much he had to do. Fixible? Somewhat. They gave gum less work and only one math problem at a time. Worked for a while then they would forget he had this issue and he eventually got mad and had to be pulled out of class. Went on to high school where none of this info was shared and then he turned to drugs and alcohol. He is an adult now with his own child and can’t get a great job because he was not helped in time and will never complete high school. My youngest never learned to read. But she was very social and got help from friends. In grade five the decided she would move up to grade 7 instead is six. This pulled her even further back. When she went to high school she also turned to drugs. Why do our children have to suffer because they are the quiet one of the crowd who doesn’t get noticed? Also when she was skipped ahead it wasn’t because she could read and was able to do the work. It was because when we moved to this province I had kept her back a year to help her catch up. So she was a year behind age wise but in the right grade learning wise. And as a consequence she never got immunized and still isn’t . so I have three kids. 2 are high school dropouts. So tell me how this is helping the kids? Its NOT. When we lives in Manitoba they both had teacher aids and were doing well. Moved their files with me and they get no support. Not impressed. Give the teachers what they need to help Every child.


    1. Thank you so much for sharing your children’s stories. I am so very sorry that they did not get the support they needed. I hope that when your grandchild attends school, s/he will get all the help that is needed.


  2. My first Child had a natural talent for mimicking and is fluent in verbal language. I chose to place her in French immersion in Kindergarten, buying into the bilingual necessity and that the kids have more help in the school. By grade two we were asked to leave the school as it was becoming noticeable that my daughter has a learning impairment, and the school did not have the funding to assist her. She was placed on a list to be tested for the reasons of her impairment.

    We spent the next two years waiting for her assessment. As a single parent I did not have the resources to pay for a private assessment, so I began to make the right noises from the encouragement from an amazing teacher. Now my child has an IEP like 12 other kids in her class. You would think at that point the schools would have help for the teachers. WRONG! Very little help and still 29 kids in the classroom.

    In hopes of getting my child to read I was willing to hold my child back a year and switch school. We all know how this new education system thinks it is so important to keep the age group together. This push them through attitude is not helping! By the time the kids get to grade 9 and find themselves lost and confused with the work they drop out and are lost almost forever.

    Invest in our kids and it will pay tenfold! The residual benefits are infinite. The good old saying an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure!


    1. Thank you for sharing your child’s story. I hope that our current strike will result in dramatic changes to the amount of support available for students.


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