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BC Teachers’ Federation President Irene Lanzinger, welcomed the appointment of Margaret MacDiarmid as the new minister of education and called for a moratorium on the government’s controversial Foundation Skills Assessment.

“Teachers across BC are pleased to see a new minister of education in place, one we hope will have a more positive and constructive relationship with teachers,” said Lanzinger. “The BC Liberal government has a long record of cuts and divisive education policies to account for, but hopefully, Margaret MacDiarmid will be more open to working collaboratively with teachers to protect public education.”

Lanzinger said the BC Teachers’ Federation would like to meet with the new minister of education as soon as possible to discuss pressing issues. First, Margaret MacDiarmid will have to find a way to protect the education budget from further cuts as the government’s deficit grows and fulfil their government’s commitment to reduce class sizes and improve support for children with special needs. Second, the BC Teachers’ Federation would like to meet with the new minister to discuss a moratorium on the FSA.

“Teachers do not believe the Foundation Skills Assessment test, given to Grade 4 and 7 students every February, is an appropriate measure of student learning,” said Lanzinger. “More and more parents are pulling their children out of these controversial, standardized tests because they do not see the value the vague results provide. In addition, all of the education partners are opposed to the Fraser Institute using the data to unfairly rank schools.

“Teachers are not opposed to assessment,” said Lanzinger. “In fact, teachers assess their students in a professional and appropriate manner every day. The BCTF believes more appropriate assessment tools can be developed with all of the education partner groups, including government, trustees, principals, and parents.”

At the BC Teachers’ Federation 2009 Annual General Meeting, teachers voted to encourage government to implement a two-year moratorium on all standardized tests. That includes the FSA as well as provincial exams that universities in BC are no longer using for their admission requirements. Teachers at the AGM also voted to call on government to create a Testing and Assessment Task Force to find better models of testing and assessment that enhance student learning.

“Public education is about teaching and learning,” said Lanzinger. “Collectively, we need to work together to develop a new model of assessment that is fair, appropriate, and puts the focus on learning. Teachers hope Margaret MacDiarmid will meet with us very soon to begin this important work.”

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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