T&T works more of its magic

The Times & Transcript is one of the only newspapers that you will ever read that can turn what should be a serious and sobering economic or demographic statistics into good news. Of course, this only applies to the provincial government and the Tories.

Consider today’s story on the decline in student enrollment since 1998. The journalist rightly states that New Brunswick has the second worst decline in student population in Canada (of course, he leaves out a half dozen other important points highlighted in my blog).

Then he roles into a Al Hogan-like defence of the declining student population as actually good news. To paraphrase the former federal Liberal advertisments: “I’m not making this stuff up”.

On the bright side, provincial government financial support for elementary schools and high schools increased over the period, suggesting that the quality of the education may also be improving.

Indu Varma, the president of the N.B. Teachers Association, said the government should take advantage of a declining population to improve education at N.B. schools. “Let us hope that they would look at (population decline) as an opportunity to maintain the teaching force and even add to the teaching force,” she said.

Jason Humphrey, director of communications for the provincial Dept. of Education, said the government will continue to increase investments in education despite declining enrolment, which the department projects will continue.

“You are seeing increased investment in education in N.B. despite declining enrolment,” he said, adding that the last budget the government announced it will hire 240 more teachers, most of whom are needed to help the government meet its objective of lowering class size by one student in every grade. This is in addition to 650 new teachers the government is hiring, which itself is 150 more than was originally planned.”

This is not the friggin’ story, you Al Hogan wanna be. The friggin’ story is that New Brunswick’s student population is COLLAPSING. You should have experts quoted on how this will impact the future of our province – not some Macabre-esque quotes about how the province will cheerily go right on investing in education no matter how far the student population drops.

Am I wrong on this?

The Al Hogan spin machine has so spiralled out of control that just about ever story of fundamental importance to our future is actually served up as ‘good news’ for the people of New Brunswick.

The unemployment rate is down. Good news! No mention of the fact it is down because people are leaving the province in record numbers.

The student population is down. Good news! That means more money spent on fewer students.

The general population is dropping. Good news! That means more money – per capita – for health care.

Make no mistake on this folks, Al Hogan or no Al Hogan, the numbers – just about all of them – are trending badly and it will catch up to us sooner rather than later. And when it does, in 2008 or 2010, there just might be a Liberal premier for Al to blame it on.

We need these numbers to start trending upwards, and fast.