Saturday, November 22, 2008

Machinations of the Ministry baffle School district trustees

As they sat in final session before last Saturday’s municipal election, School District 52 trustees had to try and make sense of the latest decision of the Ministry of Education, one which takes back a commitment to fund early learning and literacy in the School District, leaving the initiative very much in the air and definitely not on the agenda.

Frustration, disbelief and bafflement are just a few of the sentiments that the trustees expressed as they voiced their concern over the latest update from Superintendent of Schools Eric Mercer, who had the unhappy chore of relaying the latest thoughts from the Ministry of Education.

Mercer updated the trustees of the latest decision of the Deputy Minister of Education James Gorman, who has advised the province’s superintendents that the government was planning on a cautious path for expansion of the initiatives and for the most part it seems there will be no further updates on the issue until we get closer to the May election period.

The Daily News outlined Mercer’s message to the trustees as part of the Thursday edition of the paper.

Trustees slam funding decision
School board discusses loss of money for early learning initiatives
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, November 21, 2008
Page one

Trustees were left scratching their heads on Tuesday night after learning the Ministry of Education will not commit to fund its own early learning and literacy initiatives.

Because the regular November School District 52 Board Meeting fell on Remembrance Day, the final meeting of the existing board took place Tuesday night. With both outgoing trustees Brian Johnson and Barry McDonald absent and a smaller agenda than usual, everyone involved was happy to conclude the public portion of the evening well short of the typical three-hours. But not before Superintendent of Schools Eric Mercer reported back on the Oct. 16 and 17 meetings between Deputy Minister of Education James Gorman and British Columbia district superintendents.

Deputy Minister of Education James Gorman reported that the government would be very cautions of expansion in early learning because it would be very costly and the province’s current priority is health. Gorman also said that participation in early learning will be choice-based and not mandatory, and that it programs will be play-based with no curriculum.

Superintendent of Literacy for the Ministry of Education Jacqui Taylor also reported to the district superintendents that they should not expect any additional literacy programs. Taylor also announced there would be no expansion of services outside the Kindergarten to Grade 12 boundaries, and that present funding support for literacy initiatives will disappear over the next three years as the existing funding has only been for implementation.

Mercer’s update was met with a chorus of groans, and trustees took turns expressing their displeasure at what they perceived to be a complete lack of vision on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

Janet Mirau, shook her head in disbelief, stating it seemed as if the costly implementation of early learning and literacy programs has been a waste. Bart Kuntz agreed and said the ministry has yet to find anything long enough to even measure success. Louisa Sanchez was baffled by the news, claiming the ministry’s overall inconsistency and constant revisions to programming is “just ridiculous.”

Tina Last also expressed her frustration with early learning and literacy funding being pulled, and even Mercer said he was at a loss to explain the reasoning, behind the change. Mercer added that the superintendents were advised by Gorman no to expect any further updates until closer to May’s provincial election.

No comments: