Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Prince Rupert Teachers' Union leads the charge to boycott FSA’s

The British Columbia Teachers' Federation, acting upon a resolution introduced by the Prince Rupert District Teachers Union, has come out in favour of a boycott of the Foundation Skills Assessment tests for next year.
Teachers attending the Federations’ 92nd annual general meeting this week, met behind closed doors to come to a decision on how best to approach the controversial FSA tests. The province wide standardized tests in reading, writing and math introduced by the Ministry of Education; the results of which end up controversial when they are used every year by the Fraser Institute to rank schools.

And it's those rankings in effect that are at the core of the dispute. The resolution introduced by the Rupert local is designed to put an end to the Fraser Institute practice. Many of the teachers would prefer to go back to the standard in place prior to 2000, where random samplings were taken instead of the province wide testing process that the Fraser Institute extracts its reports from.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the Prince Rupert resolution stated: "That unless the Ministry of Education changes to a random sampling with neither schools nor students identified, in the 2008-09 school year, teachers will not prepare for, administer or mark the provincial FSA.

The final vote was close and the debate emotional with moderates and hardliners outlining their positions and impressions as to how their resolution will be received by the government, local school districts and parents.

The Vancouver Sun quotes BCTF President Irene Lanzinger as stating: "We're going to have an FSA campaign next year . . . [but] I'm not prepared to discuss the details with you."

Toward that end, the BCTF had tried to keep the results of their deliberations quiet until they have had time to work a plan to put forward to parents and School councils. But in a group as large and diverse as this, that might have been a rather optimistic goal.

With the results now made public, unofficially as they are, the Federation will need to get to work in providing details to parents and school officials. Taking the lead on the controversial issue and working to build support from the parents and public at large for their plans. It’s a decision that will clearly put them on a collision course with the Provincial government.

With an election coming up in 2009, Education will no doubt become a key ingredient to the May campaign, with their vote regarding the FSA’s, teachers have sent a signal that they intend to become more vocal and indeed add more intervention to the issues that they are most concerned about.

The move on the FSA’s is likely the first in what will be a number of initiatives that the BCTF will undertake to make Education a priority for voters as May 2009 comes around.

A number of reports today outline details on the events of the week thus far, providing us with a preview to some of the debate that will come from the adoption of the BCTF resolution.

** CKNW's Christy Clark program featured discussion of the story, you can access that by using CKNW's Audio Vault, select today's date and the 1-2 and 2-3 pm hours for some of the feedback on the issue.
Update--items marked ** above added after initial posting of article to this blog

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