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PRIORITIES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

A Brief to the Ministry of Education from the BC Teachers’ Federation, August 2017 

Communication and Advice from Teachers through the BCTF

Teachers have a direct interest in the many decisions made about the public education system and want to participate in providing advice to the Ministry of Education. The BCTF commits to being open to engaging with the aim of producing the best possible policies that support quality education.

Background

An important element of positive participation is access to information that allows for informed consideration, suggestions, and proposals.

The experience in the past has been positive in some areas. For example, during the current process of curriculum development, the BCTF identified teachers to serve on curriculum committees across all subject areas. The Federation advertised for teachers to apply for committees and it made appointments, with advice from the provincial specialist associations that are curriculum based. Because of the Federation’s ability to reach teachers directly in all school districts in the province, appointments were made from all regions of the province, and inclusive of teachers who identify as Aboriginal or from an equity-seeking group. This is important so that the discussions in the curriculum teams and at other Ministry committees are reflective of the diversity of the province.

However, the practice of consultation with the BCTF early-on in policy discussions has not been the case in all areas of the Ministry. In some instances, consultation takes place only after framework decisions have been made, with consultation only being about how a decision already made is to be carried out. In other cases, the BCTF has had to use Freedom of Information requests, and even then, not all information has been provided.

Better decisions that are good for children’s education are made when those who will carry out the policies are engaged in the creation of those policies.

Key recommendations

Recommendation 1

That the Minister of Education inform Ministry staff that an open information practice, with staff initiating consultation with the BCTF, being proactive in providing information on policy and other issues, and being responsive to requests for information from the BCTF is expected.

Recommendation 2

That the Ministry of Education agrees to maintain the protocol of BCTF appointing teachers who participate in policy committees dealing with the full range of education policies, including curriculum- and assessment-related committees.

Recommendation 3

That the Minister of Education and the Ministry schedule regular meetings with BCTF table officers and staff to discuss the broad range of education issues.

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