||Volume 22, Number 7, May/June 2010
Teachers missing from the Ministry of Education Service Plan
By Larry Kuehn
Every time a provincial budget is announced, a “Service Plan” for each ministry is a part of the budget. It is supposed to provide the public with an indication of the “goals, objectives, strategies, and performance measures” of that section of government.
An indication of what this ministry thinks of the role of teachers in education is indicated by how often it talks about teachers. A search of the 27 pages of the most recent Ministry of Education Service Plan shows that the word “teacher” appears only once. Even then, it is not about teachers; it is in a photo caption that says “A child’s first teacher is always a parent or caregiver.”
Let’s take a look at one example of a goal and performance measure. Goal 2 is to have “Responsive K–12 education” and one of the objectives to be measured is “Engage students through new and flexible choices.”
What are the strategies identified to engage students? The Service Plan talks about “new forms of schooling,” curriculum revision to prepare for the future, neighbourhood learning centres, jurisdiction for First Nations, support for French immersion, and more distributed learning. It also claims students will be more engaged through “choice for families through independent schools and home schooling options.”
Does the budget provide extra funds to make sure these things can happen? No, not for most of these items. Except for independent schools which, as usual, get more of a percentage funding lift than public schools in this budget.
And what are the performance measures for these strategies?
One projects that FSA reading results will increase to “75% of students in Grade 4 who meet reading expectations.” Another offers “The percentage of students who pass a Grade 10 language arts provincial exam.”
How will these tired approaches measure the excitement and engagement of students that these initiatives are supposed to increase?
The Service Plan also reports on what the ministry claims to have discovered from 10 years of FSA results: “The clear correlation between student’s reading scores and the likelihood they will complete school now allows educators and parents to develop appropriate interventions to assist individual students.”
Why did it take the ministry 10 years of FSA exams to discover that there is a correlation between reading skills and graduation rates? Teachers hardly needed FSAs to know this and to try to do something about it.
Want to read more commentary on the Service Plan? You can find it on the BCTF web site at bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/Issues/EdFinance/MoEdServicePlan2010-11.pdf or http://tinyurl.com/yfdpvgz.
– Larry Kuehn