School districts in BC are caught in a Catch 22. Provincial carbon neutral measures are forcing districts to pay for carbon offsets that don’t actually reduce the districts’ own emissions AND drain funds from education operating budgets. The bigger the emissions gap, the more offsets districts have to buy; the more they have to buy, READ MORE
An article in Macleans Magazine looks at a decline in manual skills amongst youth and shows that the basics such as how to hold a hammer and turn a screwdriver are mysteries for many youth. The lack of basic skills and work ethic is causing problems in a number of trades from engineering and architecture READ MORE
The belief that adding more traditional playgrounds will encourage activity amongst children has proven to be a false assumption. A study that used GPS (Global Positioning System) to examine the link between environment and activity levels amongst children has shown that traditional playgrounds do little to promote activity. The large metal structures are often intimidating READ MORE
The introduction of all day kindergarten is causing some tension for parents and teachers alike. Although many parents and teachers agree the program will help youngsters with reading and arithmetic they feel the introduction of the program is rushed and poorly funded. The program is meant to address gaps in early childhood education and care, READ MORE
Located on the Adam’s Lake reserve, Chief Atahm Elementary relies on elders for its immersion program that teaches only in the local language, Secwepemctsin, from kindergarten to Grade 3. The school also provides instruction in traditional cultural practices, from plant identification and uses, to preserving meat. The involvement of local elders and parents has created READ MORE
Last Friday the Ministry of Education informed school boards that they are now responsible for paying property insurance premiums. This carves a significant amount of money out of already stretched school board budgets. Vancouver’s school board will have to pay the highest premiums at $291,285.27, amounting to significant cuts to school programs and staff. Read READ MORE
The Burnaby school district has drafted a policy, No. 5.45, to support students and employees who are (or are assumed to be) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit or queer (LGBTQ). While the policy is being met with protest from some parents and church groups, students are overwhelmingly in favour of the policy. Read more READ MORE
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Increases in the number of special needs students and decreases in the number of special education teachers leave unions and parent groups worried that these students aren’t getting the qualified instruction they need. They point the finger at the BC government’s passing of Bill 28 in 2002, which removed funding for special needs services, and READ MORE
Recent measures to override local school board decisions, such as those contained in this spring’s legislation, do not reflect British Columbians’ view about who is doing the best job in public education.
On February 21 the Vancouver board of education unanimously passed a motion of support for Bill C-389, a federal bill that would add gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code. Gender identity and expression are common grounds for bullying and harassment among school-aged READ MORE
Many schools across the province are facing major budget shortfalls, and according to a recent report, it is libraries that bear the brunt of cost-cutting measures. In the 2009-2010 year, parents and schools were able to raise 1.2 million dollars to keep school libraries afloat. However, dollars raised varied widely according to neighbourhood income, underscoring READ MORE
Students from two Vancouver schools recently organized a flashmob to spread the world about the “international anti-bullying day”, or “Pink Shirt Day”, which occurs on Feb. 23. Despite the students’ choice to wear pink shirts with the word “acceptance” written on them, they lack reference to homophobia and transphobia, which are the most common motives READ MORE
New research is showing that BC’s shift towards green schools may be producing healthier, more productive, and more environmentally aware students. Canadian and American studies have shown that the improved natural light, air quality and acoustics required in green buildings help meet the educational and health needs of children and teachers far better than traditional READ MORE
Vancouver Sun journalist Peter McMartin suggests that following the Edmonton model of diversifying schools and offering more choice may help save Vancouver’s public schools. Read the article in the Vancouver Sun .
Two BC municipalities are leading the way when it comes to children and families. Both New Westminster and the City of Surrey are developing strategies to promote the well-being of children in their communities. To read about Surrey’s initiatives, click here . To read about New Westminster’s Children’s Charter click here .
An East Vancouver school on the verge of being shut down due to decreased enrollment is hoping to attract new students by introducing multicultural arts-based programs. Read article in Vancouver Sun.
Surrey business leaders, education leaders and Mayor Diane Watts have joined together to appeal for more education funding. Surrey has the largest public-school district in the province and the local board of trade has argued that education is a cornerstone of a stable economy.The Surrey board of trade recently released a paper titled Education Today, Productivity Tomorrow . Read READ MORE
Faced with declining enrollment, many schools are taking on a dual role, acting as a school by day and a community hub by night. Schools throughout the Metro Vancouver region are now offering ESL classes, art and sports programs plus community services. Read the full story in The Tyee .
A murder in a neighbourhood often lowers the IQ scores of children within a 10 block radius. Although this dip in IQ seems to go back to normal after 10 days, the post-traumatic stress of children who live in violent crime-ridden neighbourhoods accounts for lower IQ scores and poorer academic performance. Read the full story READ MORE
The BC Liberals maintain that education gets more money every year, and that teachers are misrepresenting the situation by asking for more funding. However, a close analysis shows that current funding fails to meet the true cost of sustaining public schools, resulting in a structural funding shortfall. Read the full story in The Tyee .
A recent Angus Reid poll shows that nearly 80% of British Columbians support increased funding for public schools. The online poll was conducted while school trustees across the province were forced to cut programs, staff and services to balance their annual budgets. Read the full story in the Vancouver Sun .
The Vancouver School Board says it’s getting ready to lay off dozens of staff, close at least one school, and shorten the school year by 10 days, citing an $18.1-million deficit it blames on the provincial government. Provincial funding for schools has failed to keep pace with rising labor costs and mandated energy -efficiency retrofits READ MORE
Since 2002, 176 schools have been closed in BC, and over 50 more closures are threatened over the next few years. However, demographic models suggest that closures are only a quick-fix solution. School-age populations have dropped significantly in the last several years but are expected to increase rapidly in the coming decades, meaning schools must READ MORE
The Frontier Centre has recently raved about the values of Alberta’s primarily commercial-based childcare system, while contrasting it against Manitoba’s and Saskatchewan’s not-for-profit systems. Some have criticized this judgement, arguing that commercial systems are discriminatory and government funding should be preferentially provided to not-for-profit systems. Read the full article at the CCPA .
Both the N.D.P. and B.C. Liberal parties have failed to address key issues in early childhood education and childcare, and their potential link to childhood poverty. B.C. ranks last in Canada in a measure of children’s economic health, and is inherently tied to inadequate and expensive childcare. Read the full article at The Tyee .
This issue of Our Schools/Our Selves examines childcare and early childhood development as the multifaceted and diverse topic that it is. It includes contributions from top Canadian researchers, writers and activits and provides insight on how communities can best care for children and families. Find more information at CCPA .
Why are school districts cutting staff and laying off teachers? A new research report, finds growing evidence that the funding formula does not cover the costs of public education, can be read here .
Scientific research suggests that socioeconomic status affects cognitive development and performance in children. Poverty causes social and biological stress that may affect the brain, causing low academic performance among children and youth living in poverty and impaired memory as adults. Read more about the findings of this study at Wired Magazine .
Why are school districts cutting staff and laying off teachers?A Centre for Civic Governance research report finds growing evidence that the funding formula does not cover the costs of public education. The Centre for Civic Governance at Columbia Institute reviewed the 2008-2009 preliminary annual budgets developed by boards of education across the province. The study READ MORE
A recent study conducted by the Univeristy of British Columbia found an alarming link between child poverty and poor academic performance. Such findings further highlight B.C.’s high child poverty rates. Read the full story in The Tyee .
As part of an overall environmental stweardship objective, the school district of Richmond BC is currently working towards energy sustainability with the following goals in mind: Reduction of energy consumption Sourcing energy from clean renewable sources and Reducing the environmental impact of energy consumption. Read more here .
Despite having a strong economy for the last decade, British Columbia has the highest poverty rates in the country. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) has laid out a Poverty Reduction Plan that would reduce poverty in the province by one third after four years and eliminate street homelessness within 5 years. The plan calls for action in 7 key READ MORE
Shirly Bond, BC’s minister of education has just announced a new environmental school initiative. Individual students or groups of students are being offered prize money if they can design and implement school-based brojects that benefit the environment. The Government has so far commited $160,000 to the Green Games .The prizes are available to grades k-12 and are READ MORE
As more municipalities consider banning bottled water from municipal facilities, Canadian university and college campuses are moving in the opposite direction. A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) titled “Corporate Initiatives on Campus: A Snapshot” reveals that since the implementation of beverage exclusivity contracts with Coke and Pepsi, drinking fountains are on the decline.
As children head back to school today, many BC parents are scrambling to make arrangements for their after school care. A lack of funding, space and providers has left many parents with little choice but to be available at 3pm to pick their children up from school. Read more here.
Many rural school districts across the U.S. are considering switching to a 4-day week mainly to save on transportation costs. 100 schools in 16 states have already made the switch. One school district reports saving $65,000 on transportation alone. Other districts report better student performance and improved school attendance. Read an article about the switch over .
On May 14, 2008 the Cowichan Valley Regional District passed bylaw amendments that restrict the use of school lands, in the hopes of discouraging school closures. The bylaws prevent the sale of school lands for private development in order to keep the lands for public use. Read an article from the Vancouver Sun about the role parents played in getting the bylaw READ MORE
The Auditor General of BC has released its report on literacy in BC schools. One of the report’s conclusions was that more could be done to reach out to potential literacy learners and that better support through data and funding is needed, as well as improved monitoring and performance reporting. Click here to link to the READ MORE
The Langley Special Education Inquiry Report , released in January 2008, was a joint project of the District Parent Advisory Council, CUPE Local 1260, and the Langley Teachers’ Association. Key findings of the report include that there has been an historical underfunding of special education in BC that has led to overcrowded classrooms and unmanageable caseloads for teachers. The Inquiry READ MORE
On October 18th, the Ministry of Education announced changes to the education funding formula. These changes are to come into effect immediately, despite the fact that school boards have already established their budgets for the current school year. The changes being made to the funding formula apply to students in grades 10, 11 and 12. READ MORE
A lesson guide developed by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness, the BC Federation of Teachers, SPARC BC and the Vancouver Art Gallery, this guide is designed to engage teachers and students in learning and activities related to Homelessness Action Week. Download the guide here .
A new study from StatsCan has found that young men are far less likely to attend university than young women. The study found that differences in study habits and academic performance at the age of 15 contributed to this trend, as well as parental expectations. To read the study click here .
An interesting study released by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University shows that high quality, discover/play-oriented pre-school programs lead to a 44% improvement in math skills, an 85% improvement in print awareness and knowledge of letter-sound associations, and gains in vocabulary that were 31% greater than children who did not attend.
In October of 2006, the Saanich School Board formed a Commission of Public Education, which included three trustees, the Superintendent of Schools and a respected community member. The Commission was tasked with receiving feedback on the Board’s declared values, programs, priorities and services; addressing the ongoing funding shortfalls facing the Board and receiving ideas on READ MORE
The Idle Free BC website contains information and resources for any school district, municipality or fleet interested in implementing an idling reduction program. Check out the resources section for example by-laws, school programs and promotional material. Click here to go to the Idle Free BC website.
The American Archictectural Foundation’s Great Schools by Design initiative promotes innovation in school design to improve the overall quality of schools in the US. Click here to read more.
Want to go idle-free? Natural Resources Canada and Better Environmentally Sound Transportation have each produced resource websites to assist in your anti-idling actions. Click here for more from Natural Resources Canada.