--> Getting It Right: Teaching what?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Teaching what?

Every once in awhile a public sector union does something so over the top that I can’t help but react.

Yesterday, Kid #1 arrived home from school with a flyer in her backpack proclaiming “FSA testing can be harmful to students”. The material, put together by the BC Teacher’s Federation, was highly critical of the standardized testing that takes place in BC schools in grades 4 and 7.

We then spent €a very enjoyable hour explaining the concept of sensationalistic literature to a nine year old in a way that maintained respect for her fantastic teacher, while at the same time exploring the mysteries of baseline research, curriculum development and the need to benchmark general student achievement over a period of time.


The BC Teacher’s Federation, which put together this alarming piece of propaganda, is perfectly within its rights to politically engage around the issue. The BCTF can take out newspaper ads (which it has) and the leadership can discuss, debate and decry the measurement student progress on talk radio and in newspaper articles.

There are many avenues of advocacy and activism open to the union without the group needing to stoop to employing our children as their messengers.

Teachers have a sacred trust with students and parents. We hand over our most precious treasure and expect that they will be taught the curriculum prescribed by the province in a way that best suits their learning style. We hope they will learn “the rules” and will emerge from the public system with a democratic and broad-based education

We do not want them caught up in the middle of a political fight between the union and the government. It is just not appropriate to insert children into a policy discussion of this nature.
And in cases where the parents disagree with the BCTF, it puts children in the position of feeling uncertain about two very important sets of people in their lives.

Our family has had an amazing experience in Vancouver public schools which is why I find this action so profoundly disturbing. I know the teachers we have worked with put kids first. They want them to be successful and support them at every turn. Some teachers feel compelled to go along with their union, rather than rock the boat.

Personally, I support the Foundations Skills Assessment. I think it provides valuable data about the state of the education system in BC with year over year information. But until the BCTF ceases this inappropriate and, frankly, bullying tactic, it is difficult to debate the guts of issue at all.

I hope the BCTF will see the error of this ill-considered action and circulate a formal apology to parents of students who received the material.


At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the FSA's are inaccurate way to assess schools because you don't know the environment in which the test is taken. While some teachers may take it seriously, there may eb others who give hints during the test so that their students do better. In other instances, only the strong students are allowed to take the test while the ones who are weaker in their learning are not allowed to take it. Because of this, the results you see in the newspaper do not paint an accurate picture of how the schools are acutally doing.

In addition to that, to ensure that their students do well, teachers will be forced to teach to the test and that is not the way to teach.


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