Sunday, February 01, 2009

Nine classrooms in Prince Rupert above the 30 or less rule

Both Prince Rupert High schools feature classes above the normal guidelines listed by the Ministry of Education, with both Prince Rupert Secondary and Charles Hays tipping the totals in nine separate cases, mainly in the Grade 10-12 range.

For the most part each class is over the fixed number of thirty by one or two students, with a number of reasons provided for the exemption from the rule, a situation that isn't quite as dire as in other locations in the province, but still one that is an issue of concern for local educators and their union.

The report from the Ministry outlines a number of findings and is broken down by District and is available on line for those seeking out further detail on the number crunching in the province's classrooms.

Across the district, the average class sizes include 15.4 for kindergarten, 20.3 for Grades one through three, 23.7 for Grades four to seven and 20.4 for grades eight to twelve.

The findings provided some of the background in the Daily News article from Friday's paper, which highlighted the reaction to the report from both the BCTF and North coast MLA Gary Coons.

Crowded classrooms breaking provincial gov's rules
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, January 30, 2009

Pages one and two

The numbers are in, and they show that more than 3,300 classrooms across British Columbia have 30 or more students in them, a figure that has teachers unions outraged.

The Ministry of Education recently released a report on class sizes for all 60 school districts in the province, acknowledging that nine Grade 8-12 classrooms in Prince Rupert violate provincial legislation by having more than 30 students.

The report also showed that nearly 11,000 classrooms across the province have four or more students with special needs, with 126 of those coming from Prince Rupert's 361 classes.

The British Columbia Teachers' Federation said the data is proof that the government has "no plan to help students in overcrowded classrooms," and that the data shows "students are worse off today than in 2005 when B.C. teachers first went on strike."

"Once again, the government is breaking their own legislation," said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger.

"Even worse, Premier Gordon Campbell and Minister of Education Shirley Bond are once again breaking their promise to B.C.'s students, parents, and teachers.

"There are more overcrowded classes now than in 2005-06 when the government first created the Learning Round Table and set limits in legislation. The data put forward by the minister shows her government has no plan and the round-table continues to fail."

But B.C.'s Education Minister Shirley Bond countered by highlighting the fact that overall class sizes are smaller today than in the 2005-06 school year when the class size legislation was enacted, dropping from 9,253 to 3,336 in 2008-09.

"We are the first government to enact class size and composition legislation, and all 60 school districts are meeting the requirements," said Bond.

"Schools need a degree of flexibility to organize classes that best meet the needs of students, and these decisions are best made locally," added Bond.

"When classes exceed 30 students, administrators are expected to provide appropriate, educationally sound rationales for these decisions, and the province will continue to review and monitor these classroom arrangements."

The NDP also took notice of the increased number of classrooms with more than four IEP students, commenting that Gordon Campbell was leaving children behind.

"The number of classrooms with four or more special needs students has ballooned to a number greater than post-Bill 33 numbers in May 2006," said North Coast MLA Gary Coons.
"A dismal failure of a bill that had so much potential.

"These appalling numbers show that this government has done nothing to improve our children's education in the last eight years. When all eyes are on the federal budget, the Campbell government tries to sneak in the latest numbers."

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