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Teachers flunk Campbell on education announcements

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation wasted no time in attacking Premier Campbell's Wednesday night speech to the province. In an emailed news release, BCTF president Susan Lambert said, “Teachers will be disappointed with the lack of substance”:

“The premier’s address lacked depth and demonstrates he doesn’t really understand how children learn,” Lambert said. “Teachers and parents know that children learn at their own pace, and we need to support them according to their own learning needs and skill levels.”

His announcement of “voluntary early childhood learning assessment” for children entering full-day Kindergarten is meaningless without additional funding to meet those children’s needs once they are identified, Lambert said. “Kindergarten teachers already assess all of the children coming into their classes, but we no longer have the specialist teachers in schools to work with them. More testing doesn’t help children learn.”

She pointed out that this is the premier who has cut almost 700 special education teachers, and 250 English as a Second Language and Aboriginal education teachers.

Lambert also commented on Campbell’s statement that 20 percent of grade 4 students are not reading, writing, or doing math at their grade level. She said 20 percent of children in B.C. are growing up in poverty: “There is a direct correlation between poverty and school success. Hungry kids can’t learn. This government needs to look at a comprehensive poverty reduction plan and assistance for low-income families.”

In his speech, Campbell made “a commitment to ensure that, within the next five years, every child that graduates from Grade 4 in B.C. will be reading, writing and doing math at a Grade 4 level.” He did not suggest that students would remain in grade 4 if they failed to achieve that level. Nor did he explain why this state of affairs exists when his government has controlled B.C. education for a decade.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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