Monthly Archives: August 2014

Childcare options – from CBC Radio

http://www.cbc.ca/daybreaknorth/2014/08/25/child-care-options-for-prince-george-prince-rupert-fort-st-john-and-more/

From the link: “With the start date for British Columbia schools in question, parents are looking for child care options for their children come September. Below is a list of some of the programs being offered in northern British Columbia. If you have any tips on child care programs in Prince George, Prince Rupert, Fort St John or points in between let us know by emailingdaybreaknorth[at]cbc.ca or by joining the discussion on our Facebook page.”

 

Inclusion BC Press Release – Special Needs during any school closures

Summary:
The Ministry of Children and Family Development will be providing additional Supported Child Development funding to cover in-school hours for families with special needs children currently accessing services.

 

Thanks to Inclusion BC’s advocacy efforts and those of families across the province, the Ministry of Children and Family Development will be providing additional Supported Child Development funding to cover in-school hours for families with special needs children currently accessing services.

What does this mean?

Any family who receives services under the current program are eligible to receive additional funding to SCD/ASCD service providers in the event of school closures due to the ongoing labour dispute. Supplemental services will be offered to families of school age children with special needs currently receiving SCD/ASCD services upon request.

Just like regular SCD/ASCD services, the supplemental SCD/ASCD services are intended to ensure inclusion of children and youth with special needs in child care environments. This initiative will provide additional supports that families of children with special needs may require due to the lack of school programs for their children. These supplemental SCD/ASCD services are in addition to the $40 per day Temporary Education Support for Parents recently announced by the Ministry of Finance.

We want to thank the BC government and the Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development, for listening to the voices of Inclusion BC, the families and our member agencies across the province.

We spoke, you listened and you acted.

For more information, visit www.bcparentinfo.ca

A report from BCTF Kamloops gathering

http://www.bccpac.bc.ca/news-blog/teachers-will-resume-picketing-week-says-union-president

An announcement Sunday that teachers will resume picketing this week is bound to disappoint those were still hoping that B.C. public schools might open on schedule Sept. 2.

Jim Iker, president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), told hundreds of union members who had gathered in Kamloops for a special representative assembly and summer conference that they have more work to do before they’ll get a fair deal with government.

We need to increase the pressure once again,” he said, while declaring that pickets will soon be in full force across the province.  “We have asked our locals to ramp up the pressure on schools boards and local MLAs.

The B.C. Public School Employers’ Association had said it would lift its lockout until Sept 2 for teachers who wanted to partake in previously arranged professional development during the final week of August or prepare their classrooms for the coming school year.

It now appears that won’t be happening.

Iker also urged members to begin thinking about how they can influence school board elections in November.  “Right across this province, teachers need to take an active role in electing school board trustees who will advocate for public education,” he said. “We need to push candidates to find out where they stand on issues like underfunding, bad-faith bargaining, unconstitutional laws and contract stripping.

… [snipped]

According to a tweet from Global BC’s Keith Baldrey, the BCTF distributed a memo to members this weekend titled: Intensify the pressure and stay the course.  It called for rallies outside the offices of Premier Christy Clark and Labour Minister Shirley Bond, he tweeted.

Folks, this dispute will go long into September,” Baldrey added.

Several articles of interest

http://educhatter.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/rethinking-school-reform-why-is-effective-school-reform-becoming-next-to-impossible/

“…The sad state of the Education Debate is most dramatically revealed in British Columbia public education, where the system is experiencing a protracted ‘crisis’. The gulf separating the Government and the BC Teachers Federation is now a canyon and the total breakdown has all the elements of a “class war” with students as the victims. In this game of brinkmanship, BCTF militants like Tobey Steeves are attempting to depict the conflict as “an encounter” with what Naomi Klein termed the“shock doctrine,” a cruel by-product of world-wide “disaster capitalism.”

It’s time to reclaim the sensible middle ground. More thoughtful educators like Kirp are correct in claiming that “teaching is not a business” and system-wide reforms based upon the business model are bound to fall far short of expectations. Failing to build professional relationships and organizational capacities can and do make or break any —and all –well-intentioned, clearly needed, school reforms.

The real lesson is that system-wide reforms live and die in the classroom.  “It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships,” Kirp wisely points out. “All youngsters need to believe that they have a stake in the future, a goal worth striving for, if they’re going to make it in school. They need a champion, someone who believes in them, and that’s where teachers enter the picture. The most effective approaches foster bonds of caring between teachers and their students.”…”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/what-you-need-to-know-about-labour-strife-between-bc-and-its-teachers/article19319472/

From July 31st, but still useful background information.

“The ongoing labour dispute between B.C.’s unionized teachers and their employer, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association, has been characterized by a battle to garner favourable public opinion, with clarity often giving way to spin and carefully chosen statistics designed to sell a particular point of view.

Without a contract for more than a year, the members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation are out on strike, and progress at the bargaining table appears hard to come by. The messaging from both sides leaves students, parents, voters and other observers struggling to untangle the complex issues involved. Here, we answer some of the most vexing questions.”

http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/e-brief_176_P1.pdf

“The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducts core
competency tests that are solid predictors of future economic growth – more
so than “input measures,” such as average years of schooling. PISA assesses
the academic ability of 15-year-olds across three subject areas – reading,
mathematics and science. While Canada’s outcomes remain well above the
OECD average, they have been slipping.


The 2012 results rarely mentioned the relative ability of Canadian schools
to overcome the education disadvantage of students from families with low
socio-economic status. Canada ranked fifth among OECD countries in terms of
minimizing the negative impact of low socio-economic status on mathematics
scores.”

“Canada and Finland are two countries with nearly identical average mathematics scores in 2012 (Finland 519, Canada 518). Their top and bottom quarter scores are also close. And consequently so are their respective gradients. The slope of the Canadian gradient (31.2) is the “flattest” among the jurisdictions illustrated; Finland’s is second lowest (33.3). Both are well below the OECD average (39.2), which means Canada and Finland are offsetting social disadvantage more effectively than is the typical OECD country.”

and part 2: http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/e-brief_177.pdf

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/why-teachers-across-canada-are-so-angry/article19273676/

“…Teachers across the country seem to be mad as hell and not willing to take it any more.

Some of the battles are very public. In fact, in the next year, a great many students across the country could be caught in disputes between teachers and governments.

As well as the B.C. conflict, teachers in Saskatchewan have rejected a second proposed deal, those in Alberta are resisting a proposal that they have to requalify every five years, while their counterparts in Prince Edward Island are protesting against job cuts, Newfoundland has appointed a conciliation board because contract talks broke down, and cash-strapped Ontario risks labour disruptions this fall despite last week’s vote of confidence in a premier who entered public life as an education activist.

But the malaise goes even deeper. With summer approaching, many parents – now required to juggle child care, holidays and work – look at all the friction and scratch their heads. Some can only dream of the security, wages and benefits that a teaching job provides. What more could a person ask?

Talk to teachers across the country, however, and what emerges is something far more complicated than a quest for cash.

They claim to be struggling to cope with ever-greater pressure from parents, administrators and governments to perform at the same time that society no longer seems to value that performance the way it once did.

Are these concerns justified? And what can be done to resolve the conflict and keep it out of the classroom?…”

CNC Pro-D courses this fall

CNC will be offering the following Pro-D courses this fall:

To register, please call the Continuing Education registration desk at 250.561.5801.

If you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lonnie Dupras

Administrative Coordinator

Continuing Education

Phone 250.561.5848 Ext: 5372

Toll Free 1.800.371.8111 Ext: 5372

Fax 250.561.5862

Additional information for prospective school trustees

The school district has posted the following information on their website:

The School District Trustee General Election will be held on Saturday, November 15, 2014.  There are seven trustee positions available and the term of office is four years.

The nomination period begins Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 9:00 am and ends Friday, October 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm.  

 The completed “Candidate Nomination Package – School Trustee” and/or “Elector Organization Endorsement Package – School Trustee” and/or Candidate Information Release Authorization may be received at the School Board Office during regular business hours during the nomination period.  Copies of the documents emailed or faxed (250-561-6809) to the Chief Election Officer are also accepted within the noted time period with the originals delivered to the Chief Election Officer no later than 4:00 pm, Friday, October 17, 2014.  

  Please click here for the 2014 School District No. 57 Trustee Nomination Package. 

  Paper copies are available during regular business hours at:

 ·         School District No. 57, 2100 Ferry Avenue, Prince George, BC

  • District of Mackenzie, #1 Mackenzie Blvd., Mackenzie, BC
  • Village of McBride, 100 Robson Centre, McBride, BC
  • Village of Valemount, 735 Cranberry Lake Road, Valemount, BC

 

Oddly enough, the posted document doesn’t have any working links: https://www.sd57.bc.ca/fileadmin/cao.sd57.bc.ca/Home/2014_Election/WebpageTableofContentsLinked.pdf

Perhaps that will be updated in a future online version, or perhaps it is only available in person.

To assist in the process, here are some useful links:

And yes – this material (and more!) will be on the final exam.

Nomination papers for School Trustee

According to the Prince George Citizen:

Nomination forms to run for a position on School District 57’s Board of Education will be available starting today. The forms can be obtained on the school district’s website, the school district’s office as well as the offices of the district of Mackenzie, village of Valemount and village of McBride. According to Elections B.C., which is in charge of all school board elections, the nomination period will be held between Sept. 30 and Oct. 10. If there aren’t enough candidates running to fill the board, the nomination period will be extended to Oct. 14. To be eligible to run, candidates must be a Canadian citizen and have been a B.C. resident for at least six months. The elections will be held Nov. 15, in conjunction with city council and regional district elections.

Michael Smyth interview with Minister Fassbender

http://www.theprovince.com/news/Smyth+disgraceful+truth+about+schools+shutdown/10135177/story.html
For the past two weeks, British Columbians have been told a “media blackout” prevented release of any public updates on bargaining between the government and the striking teachers’ union.

It seemed like a good idea: Stop the public rhetoric and media mudslinging and finally get on with negotiating an end to the strike/lockout that has shut down our schools.

But the old saying “no news is good news” doesn’t apply this time. The two sides have not held formal face-to-face talks since Aug. 8.

The endlessly warring factions did meet separately with miracle-working mediator Vince Ready on Aug. 13, fuelling optimism a deal could be reached to open schools as scheduled on Sept. 2.

But not even Ready has been able to bridge the gap between two sides that apparently see no point in even trying to bargain with each other.

Most of the summer has been wasted, while our kids’ education hangs in the balance.

The government seems serious in its intent to wait the union out, refusing to legislate an end to a dispute that’s already cancelled the last two weeks of the previous school year.

The government quietly launched a “parent information” website this week with updates on the non-existent bargaining and suggestions for what kids should do with their spare time come September.

The site — www.bcparentinfo.ca — suggests kids take first aid and food-safe courses to replace their classroom learning. No, I’m not kidding.

It also has a “Learning Resources” link that connects users to “interactive games and activities for young learners,” online text books and “self-study resources.”

This is what our education system has become: Download your own textbooks and educate yourself.

But I suspect the website is aimed more at striking teachers than at frustrated parents.

The government’s unwritten message to teachers: We’re not going to budge. We’re not going to legislate you back to work. We really are going to tolerate the schools being shut down in September.

Are teachers willing to play along with this game of chicken? The government clearly hopes the union’s resolve will weaken as the strike/lockout inflicts deeper economic pain on teachers.

The average teacher has lost $5,200 in unpaid wages to the conflict. The government is signalling that it’s willing to keep siphoning teachers’ wallets, as they plan to pay parents $40 a day per kid while schools are shut.

News that some teachers are planning to abandon picket lines to set up home-schooling businesses no doubt delights the government and worries the union. The government wants teachers to lose heart and start questioning their union’s strategy.

Curse them both. Kids and parents are the innocent victims of their bitter war.

The B.C. School Act requires the province to educate our children.

“The purpose of the British Columbia school system is to enable all learners to become literate, to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy, democratic and pluralistic society,” the law says.

The fact that the union and the government have wasted most of the summer, instead of working toward fulfilling this solemn mandate, is a downright disgrace.

Class size and composition and BCCPAC

Another personal report, by DPAC Chair. 

I wanted to go into more detail about the discussion that was had about class size and composition at the BCCPAC meeting, and at previous BCCPAC AGMs.

I had put in a paragraph in my previous report: “Back in 2006, a resolution that was passed at BCCPAC was: “That BCCPAC advise all education partners that limiting the number of students in classrooms based on designations or labels is discriminatory and, as such, legislation or employee contracts must not contain wording that promotes or creates such limits.”  I think it’s important to note that we want and need funding, supports, and resources for all our children, but we shouldn’t deny students access based on a group characteristic. There must be a better way of doing things. My notes say “but make damn sure to protect the money!”. Again, very much an avenue for further discussion, on how to best manage issues of student need and teacher workload.”

It’s really easy to misinterpret the BCCPAC position on this, especially in the current environment of mistrust. I have to say that all of the parents who have worked on this have children in the schools, and have dealt with a lot of these issues personally, with their children. Not one person in that room was in there from the point of view of “let’s do this as cheaply as possible!”, or “our system is perfect as it is!”.

We all know that it’s possible to have a really workable classroom with 30 students – if they’re the “right” kind of students – and a completely unworkable classroom with 15 students – again, if they’re not the “right” kind of student.

Class size and composition are a method of trying to match resources to individual children. It’s a way of saying that we have a complicated system, we have all these children with individual needs, we have to match them with classes and teachers and education assistants and resources and manage teacher workload – let’s make it simple and limit it by number of students and by number of students with particular identified challenges, who are designated and officially labelled.

But is this the best way to do it? We again all know about the “grey area” children – the ones without designations or labels or directed funding. How do these students fit with class size and composition? The answer is that they don’t. And they need support as well.

Do we need to have students officially labelled and designated before we can offer support to them? We shouldn’t.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t want funding for individual students! Very much, we want to protect that current level of funding, and then generate more funding for these other needs. Some strong words were used about the necessity of protecting funding.

So the goal was to focus on the needs of each individual child. Every child is special, every child has special needs. Some have more needs than others, some are more difficult to teach than others, some will be easier to teach.

How do we flip the way we look at it, focus on the needs of each child, and how do we match that with appropriate class sizes, teacher workload, education assistant workload, supports, and money?

I don’t think there’s any one formula that will do that. I think this needs to be a discussion that’s had with every teacher, every principal, for each class. We wanted parent input into this – but I do think that we all recognized the pivotal role of the education professionals.

What are a couple of problems with this sort of model?

Well, one is reporting out and seeing how this works. It’s really easy to pull up a report of all class sizes over 30, and all those that have over 3 students with individual education plans. It’s less easy to track, are each individual student’s needs met?

If we can’t measure it, how can we manage it?

How can we best measure it, how can we best manage it, how can we best tell if it works – and how can we trust that it’s being done for the benefit of our kids?

Let’s have that discussion – a respectful discussion, on how our education system can best meet the needs of all our individual students, in such a way that supports all our students in their ability to thrive and succeed in life.

Can we use the provincial voice of BCCPAC to get our education partners in a room, together, and work on this, with a respectful joint discussion?

Teacher workload is very much a contract concern, and should be dealt with in fair bargaining, and reach a fair negotiated settlement.

Meeting the needs of all our individual students, though – that’s a discussion that should be had by all of us who are involved in the system. I don’t think BCCPAC has the one, true, answer to the solution – but I firmly believe that we can use all of our partners in education to come up with a better answer than what we currently have.

We have all these dedicated, experienced people involved in the education system. We can do better.

Sarah Holland, DPAC Chair