See the latest news update on the B.C. School Trustees’ Association Annual General Meeting and teacher bargaining in British Columbia.

Full article here: The Report Card by Janet Steffenhagen, April 30, 2012. 9:44 am

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read a North Vancouver teacher’s proposal for quality B.C. education and his opinion on the BCTF‘s action plan:

Full article from the Vancouver Sun’s Education Blog, The Report Card here.

Vancouver Sun article by Janet Steffenhagen: April 15, 2012. 3:32 pm • Section: Report CardSTAFF

© The Vancouver Sun

Is Our Education System Headed for Success or Failure?

Review the Vancouver Sun’s Education Blog The Report Card for today’s forum of the future of education in British Columbia.

The forum is free: register here.

Guest speakers: 


The Vancouver School Board is has an article on the public opinion’s effect on the future of public education in Vancouver.  Find out more here.

Vancouver School Board Sectoral Review: Our Schools, Our Programs, Our Future pdf here.

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

The Vancouver Sun  

January 2, 2012. 3:01 pm • Section: Report Card, STAFF

My picks for the top newsmakers in B.C. education 2011:

1. George Abbott. Re-appointed education minister in March, Abbott received a surprisingly warm reception from all stakeholder groups, including the BCTF. But relations with the union have cooled since then as a result of difficult contract talks and discussions at another table to settle thorny issues of class size and composition. His biggest accomplishment in 2011 was winning unanimous support in the legislature (and quiet acceptance everywhere else) for legislation creating a new B.C. Teachers’ Council to replace the dysfunctional B.C. College of Teachers. We should know later this year if he has found a winning formula. Eyes will also be on Abbott as he creates a plan for so-called 21st century learning in public schools. (Add your views:

2. Susan Lambert. She was a force to be reckoned with in 2011 as BCTF president, but her real test will be this year  as she continues efforts to win a wage increase for teachers despite the government’s firm commitment to its public-sector wage freeze. The union has been involved in a work-to-rule job action since September but that’s unlikely to be sufficient pressure to win the kind of deal her members are expecting. The question now is, when will the BCTF move to a Phase 2 job action? And will that be a full-scale walkout? Lambert is also facing a showdown with government over Bills 27 and 28, which ended the union’s ability to negotiate class size and composition. The court declared the bills unconstitutional and gave the Liberals until April to resolve the issue. Government and the union do not agree on what sort of action the court ruling requires.

3. Patti Bacchus. While she didn’t have the same profile in 2011 as she did in 2010 when she went head-to-head with former education minister Margaret MacDiarmid, Bacchus continues to be the most recognizable and outspoken trustee in B.C. Whether you like that or not, depends on your politics because she isn’t Liberal friendly. That said, Bacchus topped the polls in Vancouver during trustee elections in November, as she did in 2008, and was once again elected chairwoman. Her challenge this year will be the same as it was last year: leading the board as it cuts millions in spending without closing schools.

Read full article here.

By Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

BCTF  Teacher Newsmagazine:  Volume 24, Number 3, November/December 2011  

Like lambs to the slaughter: The erosion of the cultured citizen 

By Sean M. Douglas  

“I have never let school interfere with my education” wrote Mark Twain as he considered his own understanding of the world; but how long before someone holds a mirror up to public education and realizes that the reflection of the students staring back is not the one they thought they would see? It is a shame to see Mr. Clemens’ (Twains’ dual persona) fears become a reality as education becomes lost within the school.

Perhaps what first needs to be asked is, what should an education look like, versus what kind of learning is currently shaping the next generation?

One can hardly deny that education has changed since, say, the days of Socrates, and it is clear that the age of texting and self-corrective technology has led to a decline in communication skills, and while the decline of such proficiency is unfortunate, it will not be “the way to a dusty death.” What is unfortunate, however, is education’s digression from culture in the classroom, for it is through the process of being cultured that all skills follow; “ay, there’s the rub!”

There is, however, a great irony in such a digression of culture, for what often brings culture to a standstill is what occurs in the school itself, the same institution that one would assume seeks to shape the hearts and minds of the future. Then again, it is the ministry whose three objectives “focus on establishing high levels of student achievement; reducing the gaps in student achievement; and ensuring high levels of public confidence in public education.” When the emphasis of education is based around statistics and external perception, it is no wonder that students are not developing a sense of personal identity, citizenship, and culture.

Perhaps schools no longer know how to effectively implement the values of culture, for now that we have become so immersed in politics, we are so overwrought with tensions that our sensitivity and our fear of being unpolitically correct has eroded culture itself. One’s ability to teach classic literature, art, music, history, philosophy, and theory, is successfully being eroded, and it is these disciplines that are necessary for students to become cultured citizens.

Read full article here.

British Columbia Teachers’ Federation Teacher Newsmagazine,  Nov-Dec 2011

New York City education officials are developing more than a dozen new standardized tests, but their main purpose will be to grade teachers, not the students who take them.

Read the full New York Times article here.

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