Curriculum roll-out criticized in Kootenay Lake

Superintendent Jeff Jones, trustee Curtis Bendig and Nelson-Creston MLA express concerns

The new curriculum will aim to support transformational education initiatives such as the toilet bag program run by Krista Lynch’s Wildflower class (above)

Critics are concerned the Kootenay Lake School District won’t have enough time to implement the curriculum for Grades 10 to 12 before students walk into class in September.

“We’ve seen the roll-out of K-9 across the province, and that’s something our district has been working through,” said trustee Curtis Bendig.

“Our board and our curriculum committee are anxiously waiting to see what the new curriculum looks like, but we haven’t seen any details yet.”

The board pressed education minister Mike Bernier on the topic when he visited Trafalgar Middle School earlier this year, but they’ve yet to receive a response. Next year the new curriculum will be optional, as it will be considered a transition year, but they wanted a better idea of how exactly it would work.

“We asked him when we would receive the details and he said ‘soon’, which is the answer we’ve been getting for almost a year now…Certainly we know the broad strokes and the general direction we’re hoping to take with the province, but what it will actually look like, we haven’t seen.”

Bendig’s frustrated because the curriculum will have far-reaching implications, including on their facilities plan which they finalized on Wednesday without seeing the final curriculum.

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall isn’t surprised by this turn of events.

“We have school districts in the position of making these extremely difficult decisions with very little information,” she said. “They have very real issues they need to consider, including the chronic underfunding from this government, and they’re doing it without all the information.”

She said the government is dragging its feet on rolling out the new curriculum, and “our kids flat out deserve better.”

Superintendent Jeff Jones has also expressed concerns about the implementation timeline as well, but he feels confident Grade 10 students walking into L.V. Rogers and Mount Sentinel next year will have a clear trajectory laid out for graduation.

“I’ve been very open about the fact I’m very concerned there has been very little or no information about what the completed curriculum will look like or how we’re expected to implement it,” he said.

“My biggest concern is we’re asking teachers to take a leap, to explore and implement a new draft curriculum, without having some sort of acknowledgement that if they change the expectations for student completion there also needs to be a shift in provincial graduation requirements.”

Online, the provincial government wrote on their website that “to allow schools to adjust to the new curriculum and new provincial exams, only modest changes to the graduation credit requirements will be made for now. Further changes to the graduation program are currently being discussed with education partners and post-secondary institutions.”

Those changes started on July 1.

During the school board meeting on Tuesday where they voted to finalize their draft plan, trustee Bob Wright argued the overcrowding of L.V. Rogers could be ameliorated by the new curriculum, since there will be more opportunities happening outside the school walls.

That’s an argument that wasn’t bought by trustee Bill Maslechko and others.

“All schools are going to be looking at how they can use their space differently to meet the needs of students,” Jones said, but he noted he believes the curriculum and L.V. Rogers potential overcrowding are “two separate issues.”

“I don’t want that to be confused. Because the students will be more integrally involved in the community doesn’t mean we won’t have space for them at the school. But a significant amount of learning will happen in partnership with the community.”

He mentioned the Atlas program at L.V. Rogers and the Global Connections class at Mount Sentinel as existing classes that utilize space outside the classroom for learning opportunities.

“I want to assure our community that we’ll be working with parents to help them understand the curriculum. They’ve seen it happening at the K-9 level, now we’re moving into 10-12 and there’s a transition plan.”

He envisions “information sessions driven largely by schools and their parent community” that will tackle the new curriculum and figure out ways to make it work for each facility.

To find out more about the new curriculum visit curriculum.gov.bc.ca.

 

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