I was pleased this week to see some healthy debate at the Victoria School Board meeting about the continuation of the Outdoor Kindergarten Program of Choice. While I strongly support outdoor time and learning, I have said publicly before that I believe this should be provided for all children, not a select few. My commentary appeared when the program was first introduced as an Op-Ed piece in the Times Colonist.
Here is Trustee Diane McNally's report from her blog about the debate on renewing the program. While the Board did agree to one more year, the discussion is clearly beginning on the nature of programs of choice, and how they are, in essence, anti-equity - diverting resources away from students with learning disabilities or in other equity seeking groups towards those whose families have the resources and wherewithal to enrol and (sometimes pay for) a program of choice.
McNally: .I like this idea : children outdoors, connecting with the environment and with the traditions and language of the people whose traditional territory we’re on. But these activities .On many occasions a teacher, administrator and class will present their school-developed activity / program at an Education Policy or a Board meeting. This and as a great idea it is being emulated in other schools as parents and staffs collaborate.However, other schools and school communities don’t require that an , when that EA could be supporting children in classrooms that demonstrably need EA support. Salt Spring schools do these activities with parent support. As a special education teacher for 22 years in this district I have seen the provincially instigated erosion of support to children with designated special needs. I saw children with very different needs put in groups of two or three or more in one classroom so one Education Assistant could do what he or she could to meet all their needs with resulting untenable schedules for CUPE workers. I can’t support when students in some schools are struggling to survive at whatever level you’d care to define “survival”. The BC Ed Plan emphasis on for the $6,900 per student funding that comes with the student. Schools that lose “customers” lose that entire per pupil amount though the school’s infrastructure costs remain the same. In SD61 13 “Programs of choice” and 155 Board authorized courses are scattered around various schools. Middle schools and Secondary Schools schedule exciting and glitzy open houses early in the New Year at which they showcase their “brand”, to entice customers. Are we going to see this in K-5 schools as well? Obviously, there is an can attend these “programs of choice”, while others face barriers to access. Highly respected US education writer has written extensively on the The “who works for theobviously working toward Is this the kind of support SD61 wants?