September 20, 2017
- Important update on the Foundation Skills Assessment
- On Orange Shirt Day BC teachers highlight residential school legacy
- Supporting teachers and students targeted by hate
- New government legislation to ban corporate and union donations
Important update on the Foundation Skills Assessment
This year the government-mandated Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests are to be given to Grade 4 and 7 students across BC in October and November. As the BCTF has for several years, we are asking parents to request that their children be excused from these tests while we continue to work with government and other partner groups to find solutions. Teachers have long been concerned about these tests and the misuse of the data by the Fraser Institute to unfairly and inappropriately rank schools. The Federation is asking our members who teach Grades 4 and 7 to communicate their concerns about the test to parents. For our members who are parents of children in these grades, please use the FSA student withdrawal letter and pass along a helpful information sheet to your network, in particular, of friends and family members.
The BCTF will engage with the new government about our concerns with the FSA, the misuse of the data, and the need to protect student privacy. The Federation will also refrain from participating in further development of a new elementary or secondary instrument until the government puts appropriate student privacy protections in place.
On Orange Shirt Day BC teachers highlight residential school legacy
September 30 is Orange Shirt Day, a day to remember the injustices suffered by over 150,000 First Nations children at residential schools across Canada. The commemorative day was sparked in 2013 by Phyllis Jack Webstad, a Stswecem'c Xgat'tem First Nation Elder in Williams Lake. Back in 1973, six-year-old Phyllis was excited to wear the brand-new orange shirt her Grandma bought for her first day of school, but when she arrived they stripped her, and took away her clothes, including the orange shirt!
Since Phyllis first shared her story, Orange Shirt Day has spread across Canada and has been incorporated into curriculum and school events annually. Senator Murray Sinclair, former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, told the CBC that he hopes “that Orange Shirt day will encourage teachers to remember every student who crosses their doorstep is someone's child, and that every child matters.” For more information, please visit www.orangeshirtday.org.
The BCTF also has many resources online to support teachers' work in including Aboriginal content and perspectives into their classrooms.
Supporting teachers and students targeted by hate
In recent weeks, a fringe group in BC that promotes hateful claims and unfounded criticism toward LGBTQ-inclusive education has been ramping up efforts to whip up discord about the revised curriculum and efforts to support LGBTQ members of our school communities, as required by law and our professional responsibilities. The BCTF is working closely with our affected locals, school districts, and the Ministry of Education to continue with the full implementation of educational programs and supports that are supportive and inclusive of sexual and gender diversity.
If you have any concerns or need help in answering questions about the SOGI 123 project please contact your local or the BCTF. Because this is a joint project of all stakeholders in public education, you can also refer questions to your administrator, the board, or the SOGI co-ordinator in your district. As a teacher, you are also protected by the non-discrimination clause in your collective agreement and by the BC Human Rights Code, and are entitled to a safe and harassment-free workplace.
New government legislation to ban corporate and union donations
The new provincial government introduced legislation this week that bans donations from corporations, unions, and individuals from out-of-province. The BC Teachers' Federation, which does not donate to political parties, has long supported the effort to bring in this ban on “big money.” A recent story from the Corporate Mapping Project highlights the need for this legislation. In this case, the group used Freedom of Information to access documents that showed the previous government invited Alberta and BC oil industry representatives to help craft BC's climate leadership plan. Some of these same companies have been big donors to political parties over the years.