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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 16, Number 6, May/June 2004

Fact or Fiction? Premier advises on literacy

In what even his critics describe as one of his most innovative strategies yet, Premier Campbell has launched a dual initiative to address problems with the education system. It will begin with the creation of a Premier’s Advisory Board on Literacy. The advisory board will consist of experts from a variety of areas, including Liberal supporters and those who voted Liberal in the last election. "Our aim," Campbell declares, "is not to just throw money at the problem. What people are asking for, not just in the Heartlands, but all across this province, is accountability. How can we ensure that our students know how to read without spending a fortune? That is what people want: adequate or close to adequate literacy levels and a balanced budget."

"Our dual program will meet the needs of both taxpayers and students," Campbell states. "First of all, we will be channeling funding into the Premier’s Advisory Board to ensure that members on the board go into all areas of the province on a fact-finding mission. Their aim will be to speak with a variety of people to determine just what they think are the failures of their school district. Then, with their findings, we hope to improve upon our 25% cut to teacher-librarians, thereby making more money available for more fact-finding missions."

"Secondly, we plan to initiate a series of mandatory standardized reading tests to be given to everyone in the province. With the exception of members of the advisory board and Liberal MLAs, everyone between the ages of six and 65 will be tested. Those who are not reading at grade level, whatever their age, will be fined. First offences will be $50 per grade level, while further offences will go up to $100 per test. Literacy-testing stations will be set up in abandoned schools throughout the province with unemployed teacher-librarians providing testing. At present, negotiations are going on to determine teacher-librarians’ salaries but it is thought that minimum wage should be sufficient."

Further cuts to education are planned to enhance the literacy program. With fewer teachers needed in the school system and more schools available to be used as testing centres, the premier predicts that his literacy program could well be the ultimate answer to kickstarting the economy. "Things can only get better for the people of British Columbia," the premier states. "Once we have our literacy-testing program in place, it is only natural that numeracy testing, map-reading testing, colouring-between-the-lines testing, and dodge-ball testing will follow."

– Board member

Source: Local.link, Langley Teachers’ Association newletter "Humour," Winter 2004.

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