Yesterday afternoon I attended CBC’s open forum which sought to discuss the topic “is public education in BC broken?” It was moderately interesting to attend and some of the comments and questions raised were very interesting. Some of my favorite moments included Chris Kennedy responding to a Little Flower Academy student, saying that it is not public education’s job to sort students for universities. I couldn’t agree more. Another comment that was inspiring came from a French Immersion teacher from Burnaby who told of the creative, engaging and differentiated learning that happens in her classroom - learning that happens without input from the private sector.
On this past Wednesday’s show of BC Almanac, Niels Veldhuis from the Fraser Institute was the guest and he was speaking about merit pay for teachers (if the CBC link is broken, leave a comment and I can probably post a new link). Once again I was infuriated by the Fraser Institute’s interest in this topic. There are so many flaws with the argument that it makes my head spin. I think Veldhuis’ main points were as follows:
Just for kicks I check out some of the Fraser Institutes Secondary School Rankings yesterday. I was curious as to how of the slightly “alternative” schools rank. However, I noticed something else that really struck me as being important. A casual look at school rankings reveals that if a school has a Special Needs population of around 9% or higher, their school ranking is almost for sure going to be lower than 160 (out of total of 260).
Shortly after I put up my previous post I came across a discussion about merit pay for teachers on CBC’s The Sunday Edition. The discussion was between Peter Cowley, who I have blogged about before, and Ben Levin, a former deputy Minister of Education in Manitoba and Ontario. Peter Cowley seemed much more reserved in this interview than in the previous one that I had heard. The fact is that both Cowley and Levin seemed to agree on all issues other than whether governments should move forward with merit pay (and their respective support for unions in general).
I was livid after hearing Peter Cowley in today’s broadcast of Grading Teachers on The Current. There are so many problems with his argument it is difficult to know where to begin. Standardized tests are universally panned in research, and in fact they are not “better than nothing.” Standardized tests, amongst other things, leads to “teaching to the test.” The UK had massive problems with this in the nineties, where up to a month or more of classtime was spent solely in prepping students for a standardized test.