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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 2, October 2007

School declines Fraser Institute invitation

The staff of Sir Matthew Begbie Elementary School forwarded this letter to The Fraser Institute regarding the Garfield Weston Awards.

"On behalf of the teaching staff at Sir Mathew Begbie Elementary School, we are responding to your letter of August 29, 2007, regarding the Garfield Weston Award for Excellence. The teaching staff at our school met recently to discuss your invitation to the awards ceremony.

"At this meeting the staff voted unanimously to decline your invitation. There are several reasons for our refusal to participate in an event sponsored by the Fraser Institute. Chief among these reasons is that we do not accept the way in which the FSA results are used to rank schools. Many other factors that contribute to improvement in academics are not considered in these rankings such as the inclusion of students with special needs and the overall diversity of the student population in BC public schools. In addition to this, the FSA result is a one-time measure of student achievement and does not reflect the richness of the curriculum, the variety of students’ learning strategies, or ways of showing their learning.

"We also object to the assumption that these awards reflect the work and commitment of one school community as opposed to another. As educators, we know that this can only serve to pit one school community against another, which is completely counter-productive. All BC public schools are dedicated to addressing the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of students and academic achievement cannot be isolated from these other student needs.

"Finally, we feel that giving cash rewards based on a single set of tests fails to acknowledge the challenges faced by some school communities and discriminates against schools that would benefit most from more funding."

Marsha Merrill, senior staff rep, VESTA and Margaret Vis, staff committee chair, Sir Matthew Begbie Elemenatary School, Vancouver.

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