Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Friday 27 April 2012

More on Bill 36

Last night I wrote about the elimination of standard school calendars and briefly mentioned some other problems with Bill 36.

Last night I had a tough time digesting this and tried to imagine what these proposals may mean for education, not only as a teacher, but as a parent and how this will impact my daughter as a student!

Today I ready Parents Take Note - Bill 36 is an attack on you! which summarizes how Bill 36 can impact parents and students if passed:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Parents take note - Bill 36 is an attack on you

Having successfully removed teachers as an "obstacle" to the BC Education Plan, yesterday George Abbott introduced enabling legislation to change the school year, day, and total instructional time provided to students.

Bill 36 removes the requirement for School Boards to follow the standard school calendar, and most importantly allows the Minister to change, through regulation, the minimum number of instructional hours in the year. It also enables more online and blended learning for all grade levels and the introduction of fees for International Baccalaureate programs.

Although the media has focused on the school year, the scariest part of this legislation is the change to the minimum number of instructional hours through regulation. Here is the actual section of the Bill, which allows the Minister to:

prescribing the minimum number of hours of instruction that a board must offer to students enrolled in the schools in its school district, including prescribing that there is no minimum number of hours of instruction for prescribed classes of students, schools or educational programs;

If parents are wondering what this might look like, then look no further than the changes that have taken place in the delivery of Planning 10. In some schools in BC, every grade 10 student goes to the gymnasium once a week for a lecture (this can be in excess of 100 students). There is no or little further instructional time for these students. The remainder of the course is taught through a "blended" model with online components or simply assignments that are done on the student's own time and handed in. The instructional time goes from 240 minutes per week in a class with 30 students, to 80 minutes per week in a class with 100 or more students. Typically this can reduce the teacher hours needed by half.

<Continue Reading Here>

I worry for the students who slip through the cracks, I worry for how diverse learning needs will not be met, I worry about what this will look like and how this will change education for the worse.

I have taught Planning 10 online (though only for a month) and I had dozens of students coming in confused, behind, struggling. As part of that contract I worked 2 blocks Planning 10 in class and Planning 10 online and the difference was night and day. Planning 10 in -class involved far more engaging activities and group work and interactive options, while online was individual, self-paced work.

While I agree that there are students who may prefer one method or another and having choice is important, I fear the government's implementation of this is not to provide "choice" but to save money and that this is just the first step in a future that eliminates the actual classroom and overlooks the importance of that structure, in favour of a cheaper alternative that sounds fancy on paper but is more about making students a commodity and privatizing education than actually improving it.

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