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BCTF School Staff Alert


November 3, 2011
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Education renewal brings nothing new

Set against a background statement of unremitting change, BC’s Education Plan announced by Minister George Abbott contains beguiling language but no substance. Throughout the document a vast gulf separates what government aspires to do from the reality evident in today’s underfunded classrooms.

Scant mention is made of students with special needs. Only a statement about “effective intervention strategies and supports available to teachers, students, and parents.” Does this mean rehiring the 1,500 learning specialist teachers that have been lost over the last decade? Are they going to eliminate the year-long wait-lists for diagnostic testing?

There is no mention of class size or composition, yet enthusiastic descriptions of dynamic opportunities in distance learning and smart use of technology, as if it were the solution to all our problems.

There is much emphasis on technology, smart phones, and iPads in classrooms, and the involvement of parents in their child’s learning without a thought as to whether this is possible for a majority of parents struggling to make ends meet or living in poverty. As it stands, implementing this plan without full funding will mean students from wealthier families will have an even greater advantage over their lower-income classmates.

Contradictions and myths abound:

  • Learning is to be personalized, yet there will be ongoing provincial and local testing and a rigorous focus on the “basics.”
  • Teaching is to be flexible and creative, yet there is to be mandated professional development tied to ministry objectives and policies.
  • Teachers and the system needs to be dragged out of the last century, yet teachers and education are, and have always been, agents of change and are the first to embrace new methods and technologies.
  • Parents will have choice on what, how, when, and where their child learns. How is this possible for working parents and who will be responsible for all these children outside of school?

Funding and support for schools, teachers, and students continue to decline and it is easy to suspect that behind the rhetoric of change and faith in the magical properties of technology, lies nothing more than a means to make further cuts.

Education is far more than the transmission of inert information. It is a meeting of minds that requires face-to-face interaction with a teacher, not a computer screen.