The BC Teachers’ Federation executive committee elections this morning saw incumbent President Susan Lambert keep her position, beating out challenger Rick Guenther by 429 votes to 238.

Lambert, a teacher librarian who began her teaching career in Prince Rupert in the early 1970s, has been president of the teachers’ union since 2010. Lambert ran as a part of “The Coalition,” a slate that includes 1st Vice President Jim Iker, who also retained his seat, and 2nd Vice President Glen Hansman, whose seat is being challenged by Stephen Zlotnik, a teacher from Boundary.

Challenger Rick Guenther, an independent member of the BCTF executive, had hoped to unseat Lambert  telling The Vancouver Sun the Coalition had been in power for 10 years and it was time for a change. Guenther campaigned on the platform that the BCTF wasn’t engaging with the government or teacher-associated groups like the BC Coalition of Parent Advisory Councils, and that the teachers’ public image was in need of repair.

Teachers’ rejected that position, however, in favour of Lambert who has received strong support from both teachers and fellow public sector unions like the BC Federation of Labour, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and several national and international teachers’ unions, during the BCTF’s fight against the Education Improvement Act, which legislates teachers to return to the bargaining table with their employers, and a government approved mediator, to reach a net zero contract agreement by the end of June.

Teachers are supposed to decide today or tomorrow the next steps in their fight against the legislation, which could include everything from withdrawing from extracurricular activities to a full-scale illegal walkout that could cost the union up to $20 million a day in fines.

By Katie Hyslop March 20, 2012 10:42 am – The Tyee Hook Blog

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee and The Tyee Solutions Society.

© The Tyee News

The legislature gave final approval Thursday to the controversial Bill 22 and it will become law Saturday. That’s the same day teacher activists from around the province will gather in Vancouver for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) annual general meeting at the Hyatt Regency.

The main business at this year’s meeting will be crafting a response to Bill 22 that will demonstrate teacher anger while not splitting the union or alienating the public. It will be a difficult balance. BCTF executive members spent long hours this week drafting recommendations for action, and those will be presented to the 700 delegates Sunday for an in-camera debate. The decisions during the AGM are expected to be taken to the broader membership for ratification.

We know delegates will discuss the possibility of BCTF members withdrawing from extracurricular activities, such as coaching sports teams, directing drama productions and sponsoring student clubs. Some locals are already moving in that direction. I’m told some teachers are pushing for a wildcat walkout, but I doubt that will fly, given the bill’s stiff penalties for illegal job action. There could also be proposals for political action to defeat the Liberals during the 2013 election, although the BCTF, as a union, does not usually get involved in that way. At least, not officially.

There will also be a leadership vote Tuesday, with Rick Guenther challenging Susan Lambert for the presidency. There is a third contender – Chris Drouillard, a teacher from 100 Mile House – but he’s not well known and won’t win (although he might draw support from Guenther). Read my story here.

I asked Guenther on Thursday what change he wants to see in the BCTF leadership.

Read THE VANCOUVER SUN full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, THE VANCOUVER SUN

March 15, 2012. 6:17 pm • Section: Report CardSTAFF

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Bill 22 would give some teachers in primary grades $2,500 per student

VANCOUVER — Public-school teachers are being promised financial compensation next year if they have extra-large classes.

A controversial bill now working its way through the legislature would give Grades 4-7 teachers an extra $2,500 a year for every student beyond 30 in their classrooms while secondary school teachers, who teach many courses per day, would receive $312 for every student beyond 30 in their courses, the B.C. Education Ministry told The Vancouver Sun.

Furthermore, the ministry is promising to amend school regulations to require principals to consult with teachers, and teachers to advise principals, on all matters related to classroom organization, including the placement of special-needs students. Those discussions will become “core duties” for principals and teachers, a ministry spokesman said.

Teachers in primary grades won’t be eligible for the compensation because their classes will continue to be capped at a maximum of 22 children in kindergarten and 24 students in Grades 1-3.

Teachers for courses such as band and drama, where large student numbers are sometimes desirable, are also not expected to qualify for additional pay.

The ministry says the extra money for teachers would not only compensate them for an added workload but would encourage school administrators to keep classes at 30 students or fewer in order to control costs.

The challenges of large classes with many special-needs students has been a long-standing concern of B.C. teachers, especially since 2002, when the Liberals stripped their union of its right to bargain class size and composition. Last April, the B.C. Supreme Court found the government had violated teachers’ rights and ordered it to remedy the situation within a year.

Read THE VANCOUVER SUN full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun March 9, 2012

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Teachers were planning to distribute leaflets outside B.C. public schools Monday morning at the start of what is likely to be a three-day strike.

Because picketing is not legally permitted in this job action, schools were expected to remain open, with principals, vice-principals and support staff on the job. But almost all districts have cancelled bus services and are urging parents to make other arrangements for their children rather than sending them to school.

“It is not possible for school administrators … to provide appropriate supervision for more than 70,000 students,” Surrey, the province’s largest school district, says in a statement on its website. “Even if just a fraction of the total number of students were to attend, their safety and well-being may be seriously compromised.”

StrongStart Centres and child care programs on school property around the province are not expected to be affected.

The 41,000-member B.C. Teachers’ Federation is striking to show frustration over a lack of progress during year-long bargaining and its opposition to Bill 22, which the government introduced last week to force an end to the dispute and the limited teacher job action that began in September.

“We are simply fed up,” union president Susan Lambert said over the weekend, while apologizing to parents for the inconvenience.

Read full article here.

By JANET STEFFENHAGEN, Vancouver Sun March 4, 2012

Read more education news in The Vancouver Sun’s Report Card

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

We all feel the need to belong.  The relationships we have built with family, friends and the community provide the roots that shape our character.  Positive attachments with those we care deeply about provide the foundation for our personalities.  When our parents demonstrate how proud they are of our achievements we feel special.  When our best friend runs to greet us we see the caring in their eyes.  When our soccer coach highlights our sportsmanship we strive to achieve even more.  When we have a strong sense of belonging we feel accepted.  All of our children deserve to be treated in this way.  They have a strong desire to be acknowledged as true individuals.


Do we always accept individuality?  When a person demonstrates behaviour that is outside established norms do we accept or do we ridicule?  Too often our children do not feel that their individuality is recognized.  They feel isolated and that strong sense of belonging, which they crave, is absent from their lives.  School grounds can sometimes be a place where this individuality is compromised.  Targeted bullying whether it is face to face or behind a screen can have devastating life long effects.  The following story illustrates the power of individuals to change attitudes.

Continue reading here.

by  Scott Wallace  on 2/5/2012 4:59 PM

~from the Gleneagles Elementary School Blog

While conversations are ongoing in BC and around the world focused on innovation that are linked to larger system goals including a  greater focus on personalized learning and giving kids greater ownership of their learning, these are not new objectives. Some practices worth highlighting are not only 21st century, or 20th century learning, in fact, some date back to the 19th century, and are an excellent fit for our current educational directions. At least, this is true of Montessori.

Maria Montessori, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, developed teaching methods which are often described as part of the “21st century learning” phenomena.  When I spend time in our Montessori School, Eagle Harbour Montessori(currently expanding from a K-3 to a K-5 school), I am always in awe of the self-regulation and keen focus these students have.  When I walk into the room, students continue to work and there is a sense of calm and alert focus. Students are owning their learning, the conversations with primary students are very articulate; they talk about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what they need to learn next.

What I have seen at Eagle Harbour is also supported in the recent book from Shannon Helfrich, Montessori Learning in the 21st Century:  A Guide for Parents and Teachers which links Montessori teachings with the latest neuroscientific findings.

So just what does Montessori look like in our setting:

Principles Include (from the Eagle Harbour Montessori Program 2012):

Continue reading here.

January 10, 2012 by cultureofyes

by Chris Kennedy

The Vancouver Sun

January 16, 2012. 5:47 pm • Section: Report CardSTAFF

The B.C. government has appointed Dianne Flood as acting commissioner for teacher regulation until a permanent commissioner can be found.

Flood will handle reports about teacher conduct and competence and will decide whether to order investigations.

The Education Ministry announced the appointment Monday, saying Flood has extensive experience in administrative law. She was an executive director in the Attorney General’s Ministry and a former chair of the Property Assessment Appeal Board. She has also served as an assistant deputy minister with the Manitoba government and vice-chairwoman of Manitoba’s Municipal Board.

The commissioner will play a key role in the new teacher regulation branch, which replaced the B.C. College of Teachers this month. It’s responsible for regulating 67,000 B.C. educators who work in public, independent and First Nations schools.

While on the topic of appointments, I need to correct an earlier post that said Theo Vandeweg is B.C.’s  new independent schools inspector. In fact, he has been acting inspector since the unexplained departure of Ed Vanderboom. The competition for the full-time position closed Dec. 20, and the ministry said it’s received applications from a number of very qualified people.

Including one from Vandeweg, my sources say.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Use DataBC to search data and make informed decisions, inspire change or develop ideas that will improve government policies. DataBC isn’t just data – it’s access to data that drives our province forward. The data is here for you – to answer questions, to improve decision making or to help build government services that matter most to you.

Find data from across the province in DataBC’s data catalogue. Access various types of datasets and tools designed to help you conduct your own research, analyze statistics, develop apps or satisfy your curiosity. You might like to know:

What is the government spending money on?
Have sustainable changes impacted carbon emissions? Find out what’s working and what needs improvement.
Which schools have the highest student scores on tests? Does that impact which schools I consider for my children?
What do municipal tax rates look like across the province?
There are minimal system and licensing requirements so you can easily access what you’re looking for. In fact, we’ve even developed apps to help organize and translate some of the data for you. Check out what DataBC has to offer and get started on your project. As you do, keep in mind that others are interested in hearing about your experience – contact us, blog about your findings, or join an online community.

This type of information sharing is governed by legislation and policy that makes provision for the release of public information.

-from the DataBC website

Data Catalogue on Education here

Citizens @ the Centre: B.C. Government 2.0 Publication here

Vancouver Sun January 11, 2012

Provincewide tests of reading, writing and math will proceed as planned in B.C. elementary schools next week, with principals and vice-principals reluctantly taking on the work that’s usually performed by teachers.

The B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association asked government to cancel this year’s Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), which is administered annually in Grades 4 and 7, so as not to increase the workload for administrators who are already exhausted from the effects of the teachers’ job action, president Jameel Aziz said. But the ministry insisted the tests must go ahead.

As part of their job action, which began in September, teachers are refusing to write report cards, attend staff meetings, supervise students outside of instructional hours, complete paperwork, communicate with administrators or administer provincial tests.

That means principals, vice-principals and other excluded staff will also be responsible for delivering and marking provincial exams in Grades 10, 11 and 12, despite the fact they may not have the necessary expertise in the subject being tested, Aziz said.

Read full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

5:00 PM 01/10/2012

DELTA – A feast was held today to celebrate the signing of a second Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement (AEEA) for Delta, with partners committing to support Aboriginal student success and bring a greater awareness of Aboriginal culture and history to all students.

Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements are a commitment by school districts, local Aboriginal communities and the Ministry of Education to work together to support Aboriginal students. Delta’s first agreement was signed in 2005, and the initiative has proven to be successful. Over the past ten years, six-year completion rates have risen for Aboriginal students in the district from 37 to 60 per cent.

With the new AEEA, the commitment to Aboriginal students is being enhanced. During the past year, community members, students, parents and educators came together to develop this second AEEA for Delta. The new AEEA is based on information learned from the first agreement and answers to the question, “What would success look like for our students?”

Read full article here.

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