Maple Ridge school trustees pan new B.C. education plan

The plan calls for more integration of technology in the classroom, as well as a focus on personalized learning and critical thinking

The province’s new education plan was widely panned by trustees at Wednesday’s Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education meeting, as they questioned the plan’s lack of substance and consultation, as well as the timing of its release.

The plan calls for more integration of technology in the classroom, as well as a focus on personalized learning and critical thinking.

“While we enjoy a strong and stable [education] system, we need a more nimble and flexible one that can adapt more quickly to better meet the needs of 21st century learners,” the plan states.

While trustees noted that for years the school district has been working towards many of the goals stated in the plan, the plan itself offers few specifics.

“There’s no details,” said outgoing trustee Stepan Vdovine. “The details will be the legislative changes that will come forward. Have fun in the next little while, because this will blow up.”

Superintendent Jan Unwin said the plan as it exists now is just a framework, with the details still to be fleshed out. However, she added the timing of the plan’s release couldn’t be worse while teacher job action is ongoing.

Maple Ridge Teachers’ Association president George Serra said the timing of the release of the plan was surely an intentional move by the province to put pressure on teachers.

“This is a huge issue,” he told trustees. “Some of [the plan] is on the bargaining table. It’s all connected.”

Many trustees took issue with what they felt was a lack of consultation with teachers in the development of the education plan.

“I don’t understand how you can do a plan of this nature without teachers at the centre,” said trustee Susan Carr.

There were also few details in the plan as to where funding would come from to help school district’s achieve the goals laid out in the plan.

Vdovine said the province’s focus on technology over class sizes is the wrong way to go.

“We know what parents want,” he said. “Smaller classes is what draws people to private schools.”

The board voted unanimously in favour of requesting the Ministry of Education make the plan more inclusive and consult with teachers, as well as requesting the province fully fund any new innovation in regards to technology and infrastructures for school districts.