Delay concerns school trustee

July 22, 2017

Anyone who thinks governing schools is a ‘piece of cake’ needs to think again. Times that by at least 3 (me thinks) when it comes to the Gulf Islands.

If you do not really understand what the following article is about, you are not alone. I wrote it and I do not understand what it is really about:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

May 3, 2000

Delay concerns school trustee

by Tanya Lester

School trustee Russ Searle has a problem and does not think the Gulf Islands School Board should have to solve it.

Pender Island School teachers voted to postpone the 2000-01 accreditation program. They were among 200 of 270 schools which decided to put accreditation “on hold” as recommended by the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

Searle’s problem with this is three-fold.

The first concern is governance. He points out that the accreditation program — in which teachers, parents and school trustees review a variety of the school’s educational aspects from strengths and deficiencies — is an educational regulation and, in his opinion, must be adhered to.

Searle has an April 4 letter from Charles Ugerleider, the Deputy Minister of Education, to back him up on this.

In the letter addressed to all school superintendents, Ungerleider writes that the “School Act, the School Accreditation Regulation and the Student Learning Assessment Order place a positive duty on school boards and teachers to actively participate in school accreditation and the foundation skills assessment.”

Searle believes the Ministry of Education,, for political reasons, is hesitant to force teachers to participate in the process, and wants school boards to do it for them.

On the other hand, teachers want to exercise more control by using a form of evaluation called STAR, said Searle. It, however, would be a more expensive process.

Secondly, Searle believes that teachers are opposed to the accreditation process because it might highlight teaching deficiencies. This can make teachers feel vulnerable, especially in a small school.

Teachers should be open to such an assessment, said Searle, because “the whole purpose of teaching students is to do the best for the students.”

The Pender trustee adds that it’s a bit of a moot point on Pender since there are “far more excellent that poor teachers” at the school.

Thirdly, he sees local teachers getting caught up in the provincial scene, having made the decision to do “what the union wants.”

On the first point, Pat Beitel, co-president of the Gulf Islands Teachers’ Association (GITA), said Searle “could be quite true” in his premise that the Ministry of Eing ducation is shifting responsibility onto the school boards.

If it is, the Gulf Islands School Board is not committed to shouldering it.

Board chairwoman May McKenzie said the board will first meet with GITA representatives to “begin dialogue” on the accreditation issue.

Concerning the STA process, Beitel said the BCTF took it to the provincial government and it has been rejected at that level.

Beitel said Minister of Education Penny Priddy has now agreed to set up a committee with the BCTF to “come to terms with better accreditation.”

The GITA co-president said teachers are opposed to the present accreditation system because it is cumbersome and often duplicates goals that the administration and teachers set for themselves each year.

Teachers see time spent with the students being eroded in this way.

She disagrees that teachers are afraid to have their deficiencies pinpointed. “You review and reflect on your practices all the time,” she said.

Beitel said teachers want the accreditation process to be more streamlined to individual schools. For example, an inner-city Vancouver school might have different challenges than a rural school does.

On the issue of the BCTF directing teachers as to what to do, Beitel said the idea to review accreditation came from the the membership’s grassroots.

Within the Gulf Islands district, Fernwood Elementary School on Salt Spring also voted to postpone the accreditation process.




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