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November 25, 2016

  1. Grades 10–12 curriculum implementation extended one year
  2. Changes to the Foundation Skills Assessment announced
  3. Teachers asked not to participate in provincial assessment development teams
  4. Date set for meeting with government following Supreme Court of Canada win
  5. Growing inequality means one in five BC children now living in poverty
  6. Opportunities for members: Committee vacancies for the Federation’s Professional Issues Advisory Committee and Teacher Magazine Advisory Board
  7. Webinar: Radon in Schools—What students, parents, and teachers need to know

Grades 10–12 curriculum implementation extended one year

This week, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced that the curriculum implementation timeline for Grades 10-12 will be extended for another year. The province has agreed to the call from the BCTF and others to push back the timelines, in particular due to the logistical considerations with preparing calendars for courses that may or may not exist, courses that still may change considerably during the revision process still underway, and other practical realities. The Federation had been pushing for this outcome for some time, and will continue to advocate for more time, resources, and support for all grade levels.

Changes to the Foundation Skills Assessment announced

In addition to the curriculum implementation announcement, the Minister also unveiled changes to the FSA. Unfortunately, despite many months of discussions and advocacy, the government has confirmed that it will not be going with the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment's recommendation that FSA school and student data be protected from misuse by third parties. 

Teachers asked not to participate in provincial assessment development teams

Given that the upcoming changes to the FSA do not satisfy any of the Federation's concerns about the misuse of school and student data, or about standardized testing, we will not be in a position to be reinstating members on the development teams―and the Federation will continue its opposition to the FSAs.

The concerns around protecting school and student data have been raised repeatedly with government. The partner groups, which worked alongside the BCTF and Ministry staff, developed a model within the current legislative framework whereby this could be achieved. The importance of protecting data was a point all partner groups agreed upon and worked diligently at coming up with a workable solution. Therefore, the Federation reminds members that they should not be participating in assessment committees or the pilot of the FSA.  

Date set for meeting with government following Supreme Court of Canada win

Representatives from the BCTF will be meeting with the BCPSEA on Wednesday, November 30, 2016. The Federation will update members about the results of that meeting at the earliest opportunity. Remember to reach out to your school staff rep or local office about what your local language was, as your representatives will be pushing for implementation as soon as possible. 

Growing inequality means one in five BC children now living in poverty

first callThe 2016 BC Child Poverty Report Card highlights how growing income inequality among BC families has one in five children growing up in poverty: that's more than 163,000 kids! It's a shameful statistic in a province as wealthy as British Columbia.

The report card, created by First Call: BC's Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, was released November 24 at a news conference held at the BCTF building. BCTF President Glen Hansman spoke of how teachers are all too aware of the devastating impact of poverty in the lives of students, and how difficult it is for children to learn when they are hungry.

“Children are thinking about their stomachs instead of their math,” he said. Hansman also decried government indifference to the plight of poor children, and reported how BCTF representatives were rebuffed when they tried to raise these issues with former Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

Other speakers included two young women who spoke eloquently about the difficulties of aging out of foster care at age 19 and the need for ongoing support for young people into their 20s. The report contains many moving stories of individuals' struggles to pull themselves out of poverty in the face of government indifference.

In an op-ed piece, First Call provincial co-ordinator Adrienne Montani calls on the BC Liberals to do more to help British Columbians living in poverty.

Opportunities for members: Committee vacancies for the Federation’s Professional Issues Advisory Committee and Teacher Magazine Advisory Board

The BCTF has openings for two very important advisory bodies. There is one three-year term open for the Professional Issues Advisory Committee which advises the BCTF Executive Committee on education policy, curriculum development, assessment, and accountability issues. There is also one three-year term on the Teacher Magazine Advisory Board that participates in the annual planning and review of our flagship magazine. Learn more about these openings and apply.  

Webinar: Radon in Schools—What students, parents, and teachers need to know

RADONOn Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the BCTF is hosting a webinar with Carex Canada on the health impacts of radon gas, which is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is responsible for approximately 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada. Learn more about radon and register for this webinar online


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