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March, 2015

  1. Sedition, Mean-spiritedness in school decision making ? ? ?

    March 24, 2015 by Tunya

    Mean-spiritedness Or Responsiveness — What Guides School Decision Making?
    The decision by the Nanaimo School Board to designate a K-7 elementary school as Departure Bay Eco Academy does not come without political overtones.
    In a statement to the press Board Chairman, Steve Rae, said, “We're hoping this kind of thing draws kids back from the private system.” Thus one must wonder if this move was based on educationally sound principles or adopted as a recruiting tool to boost enrollment.
    Unfortunately in BC right now, if one follows the social media, we would note a persistent undercurrent of activism trying to undermine the rather harmonious relationship currently in place between the public and independent systems in education.
    This Nanaimo decision reminds me of what happened in Maple Ridge School District 15 years ago.
    In their effort to appear responsive the Maple Ridge school board decided to survey parents as to their preferences. The survey form clearly stated the results would “help plan the future direction” and listed 10 choices including “other” or “None of the above”. The models listed were:
    – Traditional (emphasis on basics, discipline, parent involvement)
    – Progressive (children learn by discovery, less emphasis on grades)
    – Environmental
    – Self-directed (emphasis on independent learning)
    – Fine Arts (e.g., music, art, drama)
    – Skilled trades
    – Sport academies
    – Technology academies
    When the results were released a month later the media headlines picked up on the leading result — Support for traditional school. The tally was 63% for traditional, 53% for fine arts, 32% for sports academies, 31% for progressive, and 28% for environmental.
    But the politics soon kicked in. The “progressive” school of thought (the predominant philosophy operating in BC public schools) rallied against the conventional parent point-of-view (which is generally your back-to-the basics, traditional expectations) and guess what? It was an environmental school that was the new program!
    It is really too bad that parent choice and voice are so dismissed by those who push a totalitarian progressive approach. In Nanaimo it was parental choice of private schools that was the target. In Maple Ridge it was the parent voice showing a preference for traditional schooling that was skillfully thwarted.
    I think it’s time that the provincial government, through new laws, provided a level playing field for all parents in BC. There should be a uniform code of behavior that applies equally to both the public school sphere and the independent.
    There is a little known clause in the Independent School Act that forbids the practice, promotion or fostering of “social change through violent action or sedition”. In simple terms sedition is the subversive undermining of the peace and authority of the established social order. It’s time that the Public School Act had a similar clause applying to the 89% of schools that are public. Families should not be under constant bombardment from activists who would deny education alternatives in our free province of BC!

    [newsstory here ]


  2. URGENT: Parents & Education Reform

    March 23, 2015 by Tunya

    Australia Needs To Enlist Parents In Urgent Education Reform

    It is so clear to me — even though I am in Canada and thousands of miles away from Australia — what needs to happen.

    Within the space of one year Australia has had THREE reports that sharply indicate what has to happen.

    The three reports:

    – Review of the Australian Curriculum — reporting after 6 month consultation across the nation
    – Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers — report on current teacher training
    – What Makes Great Teaching? Review of Underpinning Research — research report on evidence

    I believe the spur for this level of activity was the growing concern with the previous national curriculum, which was loaded with New Age and 21st Century Transformation narratives. As Nick Cator wrote, Jan 14, 2014, in The Australian: “Do we want educators or evangelists? Do we send children to school to ‘create texts that inform and persuade others to take action for sustainable futures’?”

    The recommendations are enumerated in all reports and remain to be acted on. Will it have to come down to a heavy-handed approach for indicated changes to happen — legislation, removing accreditation from training outfits and lifting the licenses of teachers? Or will there finally be some common-sense that will magically appear?

    Given that the industry of public education itself has been too often resistant and even dismissive of all this avalanche of evidence and public expectation it’s time to really bring in the troops — the consumers.

    I saw a recommendation in the curriculum review that really made sense — getting parents genuinely involved. I don’t know the particulars intended, but these are some of the means by which parent muscle can be brought to bear: parental choice of schools between progressive, traditional or other philosophies; handbook on parent rights; handbook on student rights; curriculum outlines in clear language; workshops for parents on pursuing individual student educational needs; standardized accountability measures to keep schools on task; rebates for out-of-school tutoring expenses; tax credits for private schools, school-based management; etc., etc.

    In the days of the one-room school house if the teacher did not teach the expected basics the parent board fired the teacher and recruited another. That’s the kind of clout that parents too long colonized by their “masters” need to regain if children are to be educated in their lifetimes for a challenging world.

    I just wish that we in Canada (North America generally) had such clear signals as shown in the three reports by which we could go about cleaning up our education swamp.

    [The Australian story referred to is here — ]


  3. Disease Metaphor For 21st C Learning Experiments

    March 4, 2015 by Tunya

    Mr Education Minister — Stop The Education Blight Before It’s Too Late

    People who study tree rings can tell a lot about a tree’s history. They can even tell if stunted growth results from such deprivations or assaults as fire, drought, disease, insect infestations, etc.

    Now, in education, we do not have such growth rings to help us gauge defects visited upon children in schools — whether from acts of omission or commission.

    However, observers do have some measures such as accountability testing which can place a student at, below, or above an expected grade-level. Unfortunately, due to extreme lobbying by fearful educators, evaluations are being seriously curtailed.

    But, once in a while a brave soul from within the system will speak out and then we get some anecdotal information — even if it’s labeled “an opinion”.

    Here is Carol Burris of New York, a High School principal with a number of awards for outstanding achievement saying about the 21st Century Learning plan called Common Core in the US — “Common Core will lead to misery, not higher achievement”:

    “ . . . I am truly worried that we may lose an entire generation of students. The Common Core was hastily imposed and never field-tested.”

    Should we in BC pay attention to education developments elsewhere? YES, loudly YES ! Because education transformations, or “shifts” to 21st Century Learning are popping up in various parts of the world. And, lo and behold, the narratives are THE SAME — collaboration, competency, inquiry-learning, etc. — that definitely point to some concerted global effort along some predetermined plan !

    In BC we just recently (29 January 2015) experienced a FORUM where one of the key speakers said this about BC’s Ed Plan/Personalized Learning:

    “This is a pivotal moment for BC . . . if we can continue to work together in this way we can build on how far we've got and really accelerate and sustain this — we'll achieve what nobody else has yet achieved and that is to transform the system across the whole province… to enable all young people to have the skills and knowledge to be successful in the 21st Century . . . I wish you all the very best.” – David Albury, a leading coordinator with Global Education Leadership Program (GELP UK) consulting in BC.

    Now, Mr Minister: Why is BC being targeted more than any other of these world projects to be the first to fall — hook-line-and-sinker — for this plan? People in all these other nations (US, UK, Australia, NZ) are having second thoughts. Why should we be speeding ahead without broad knowledge or buy-in by public and educators? Are we that gullible?

    In view of your concern for efficiencies, Mr Minister, I would suggest a ‘HOLD” on this project, with millions of dollars already budgeted, so that there can be a proper REVIEW.

    Both for sake of economic savings and for the rescue of our children and grandchildren from this blight of untested educational experimentation I urge you to put a stop to the acceleration and get us back to the basics of education and what parents and public want.

    To Colonist (in moderation) ,My Facebook 04 Mar 2015