Vancouver teachers upset about the 1200+ classes over size and composition guidelines



    VANCOUVER, Oct. 16 /CNW/ - At its October 15 meeting, the Vancouver Board
of Education (VSB) considered the report presented by Superintendent Chris
Kelly on the state of class size and class composition in Vancouver elementary
and secondary schools.
    In the Superintendent's report, 451 secondary classes enroll more than 30
students, and 1193 secondary classes include more than three students with
ministry designations requiring an Individual Education Plan (IEP). At the
elementary level, the Superintendent reported that there are 80 classes with
more than three students with an IEP. These numbers do not take into account
the hundreds of English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) students spread over these
classes as well.
    Teachers are understandably upset by these numbers. Anne Guthrie-Warman,
President of the Vancouver Secondary School Teachers' Association (VSTA)
comments: "The VSB needs to do more than simply comply with the bare bones of
the School Act. At the moment, it looks like we have the highest number of
overloads in the province."
    Some of the class organizations are of particular concern. Anne
Guthrie-Warman offers the following examples:

    
    -   a Grade 11/12 Metalworks class with 27 students, 13 of which have
        IEPs
    -   a Grade 9 Basic English class with 37 students, 8 of which have IEPs
    -   a Math 9 class with 37 students, 4 of which have IEPs
    -   another Math 9 class with 37 students, 5 of which have IEPs
    -   a Planning 10 class with 29 students, 10 of which have IEPs
    -   a Geography 12 class with 30 students, 7 of which have IEPs
    

    "How can teachers meaningfully implement these students IEPs given the
number of students with them in individual classes?" asks Anne Guthrie-Warman.
"How much attention will be given to the other students in the class? I'm
worried that this Grade 11/12 Metalworks class might have serious safety
issues."
    "What could is consultation if there isn't remedy?" she also asks. "The
Grade 9 Basic English class actually became worse after the consultation with
the principal. Originally it was 33 students, 8 of which had IEPs; after, it
became 37 students, 9 of which had IEPs. That seems completely counter to the
intent of Bill 33 and Section 76 of the School Act."
    This situation is even more outrageous, teachers feel, given that the VSB
has close to 7 million dollars in its Local Capital Reserve, a so-called
"rainy day fund" which teachers feel should be used to address the 1200+
overages in our elementary and secondary schools.
    "We have no doubt that at the individual school level, principals and
teachers tried their best to organize their schools given the limited amount
of staffing provided to them," says Glen Hansman, President of the Vancouver
Elementary School Teachers' Association.
    "But the documentation provided by teachers indicate that they have asked
for more classroom teachers, more ESL teachers, more resource support for
students with special needs, and more teaching assistants," continues Glen
Hansman. "But the VSB cut dozens of these positions in its budget last spring
to compensate for the funding shortfall from the Ministry of Education. In the
consultations at schools, the alternatives identified by teachers are often
met with their principal's refrain of 'There's nothing we can do' or 'We have
no other choice given the amount of staff provided by Human Resources.'"
    "We don't fault the principals," says Glen Hansman. "We think they're
trying to make the best of little, too. But what about the money the VSB has
in its bank accounts?
    "We understand that the VSB needs to keep afloat in its Local Capital
Reserve for emergencies," concedes Glen Hansman, "but given the scandalous
number of classes in this district with students not having their needs met,
certainly the lion's share of that money should be directed at the classroom
as soon as possible."
    What teachers are not asking for is what is being referred to as
"hokey-pokey" staffing - additional teachers put in mid-year, only for them to
be taken away. "Support needs to be continuous for it to be meaningful," says
Anne Guthrie-Warman. "How this is being handled by the VSB simply isn't good
enough."
    VESTA and VSTA have been collecting their own data related to class size
and class composition, and have more recent figures than what the
Superintendent presented Monday evening.
    Here is the most recent class size and class composition figures for
Vancouver's secondary schools. As of 2007 October 15:

    BRITANNIA
    Classes with more than 30 students: 16
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 42
    Classes with both: 15

    LORD BYNG
    Classes with more than 30 students: 40
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 71
    Classes with both: 17

    CHURCHILL
    Classes with more than 30 students: 94
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 28
    Classes with both: 9

    GLADSTONE
    Classes with more than 30 students: 9
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 42
    Classes with both: 7

    HAMBER
    Classes with more than 30 students: 17
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 25
    Classes with both: 1

    JOHN OLIVER
    Classes with more than 30 students: 37
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 31
    Classes with both: 9

    KILLARNEY
    Classes with more than 30 students: 22
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 63
    Classes with both: 1

    KING GEORGE
    Classes with more than 30 students: 20
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 7
    Classes with both: 3

    KITSILANO
    Classes with more than 30 students: 3
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 59
    Classes with both: 2

    MAGEE
    Classes with more than 30 students: 2
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 14
    Classes with both: 0

    POINT GREY
    Classes with more than 30 students: 10
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 67
    Classes with both: TBA

    PRINCE OF WALES
    Classes with more than 30 students: 6
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 52
    Classes with both: 2

    TEMPLETON
    Classes with more than 30 students: 21
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 92
    Classes with both: 5

    THOMPSON
    Classes with more than 30 students: 23
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 27
    Classes with both: 5

    TUPPER
    Classes with more than 30 students: 13
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 56
    Classes with both: 6

    UNIVERSITY HILL
    Classes with more than 30 students: 8
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 11
    Classes with both: 0

    VAN TECH
    Classes with more than 30 students: 20
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 126
    Classes with both: 13

    WINDERMERE
    Classes with more than 30 students: 13
    Classes with more than 3 students with an IEP: 41
    Classes with both: 0

    "A minority of the secondary classes that have more than 30 students are
band classes, where sometimes a teacher will agree to somewhat larger
classes," says Anne Guthrie-Warman. "But it is important to remember that
these are the minority. Most of the overages in class size and class
composition have nothing to do with 'acceptable learning environments,' and
are more likely due to two things: lack of proper funding by the provincial
government, and misplaced priorities within the VSB for the funding that is
available."
    "This simply isn't good enough for Vancouver students," she concludes.





For further information:

For further information: Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association: Anne
Guthrie-Warman, President, at (604) 873-5570, or anne@vstaweb.ca; Shaun van
der Hoop, Vice-President, at (604) 873-5570, or shaun@vstaweb.ca; Vancouver
Elementary School Teachers' Association: Glen Hansman, President, at (604)
873-8378, (604) 813-5318 (cell), or glen@vesta.ca; Patricia Gudlaugson,
Vice-President, at (604) 873-8378, or patricia@vesta.ca

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VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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