Educators must have listened to Christy Clark during the May election campaign with mixed emotions. She couldn't get through a 30-second sound bite without chirping "Grow the economy!" at least twice. Sure, it's a good idea to grow the economy. In fact, educators do it well, and could do it even better.
But despite being a teacher's daughter, Clark has never shown much appreciation for that fact, starting with her long-ago stint as education minister presiding over Gordon Campbell's first assault on B.C. teachers. With September approaching, the premier would do well to heed this reminder: underfunding schools only short-changes the economy.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has plenty of evidence to prove it. For example, last June, its education blog compared employment statistics for a number of OECD countries, including Canada.
It showed young Canadians with less than high school graduation had only a 59 per cent employment rate in 2011. The same age group, with tertiary (or post-secondary) education, had 84 per cent.
When it came to tertiary education spending, the OECD average in 2010 was 20 per cent above that of 2005, and such spending took up an average of 1.6 per cent of GDP.
The OECD's Country Notes for Canada throw some encouraging light on how we're doing: 51 per cent of Canadian adults held a tertiary qualification in 2011, up 11 per cent over 2000. That makes us the best-educated nation in the OECD, where the average in 2011 was 32 per cent.
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