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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 4, January/February 2008

BC, Alberta standards ‘harmonized’

The BC College of Teachers and the BC Liberal government have put the same spin on the new certification requirements for BC and Alberta resulting from TILMA—the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement between Alberta and BC. Both claim that requirements for certification in B.C. have not been reduced. The BC College of Teachers media release on its website is even word for word the same as the government media release—complete with the quotes from two government ministers.

TILMA was negotiated in secret between the two provinces and approved only by the cabinets in the two provinces, not passed as legislation. The new certification agreement is called the Teacher Mobility Agreement.

One element of TILMA requires mutual recognition of qualifications between the two provinces for a variety of occupations, including teaching.

The BC College of Teachers entered into negotiations held in secret with the government of Alberta and with the BC Inspector of Independent Schools, who can issue special certificates for private school teachers.

The agreement reached between the three parties, not surprisingly, reduced requirements for public school certification in the province with the higher requirements—British Columbia. Critics have long warned that TILMA would lead to a race to the bottom in regulations and standards.

The academic course requirements other than education are reduced from 60 credits to 30 credits. The Canadian studies requirement is reduced from 6 credits to 3 credits. The requirement for a science course no longer includes a laboratory component. A second teaching area is no longer required for secondary teachers. There is no requirement for upper level course work. For francophone teachers restricted to teaching in French only, English proficiency will no longer be required.

While those seeking certificates may be happy to have reduced demands, there is no denying that the requirements have been reduced for getting a certificate in BC, despite claims to the contrary by the Minister of Trade.

In theory, the College of Teachers, with a majority of its council members elected by members of the college, had the authority to determine the requirements for certificates. TILMA has, in effect, reduced that authority.

Further, making any changes in the future will be much more difficult. Improvements will require agreement of agencies in two provinces–the education ministry in Alberta and the College of Teachers in BC. If other provinces join the agreement, the system will become even more inflexible because all parties to the deal will have to agree to the changes.

— Larry Kuehn

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