Minister of Education confuses the facts about FSA, say Vancouver Teachers

    VANCOUVER, Jan. 12 /CNW/ - In an article in today's Vancouver Sun
entitled "Vancouver school board to defy province over test," Minister of
Education Shirley Bond conflates different pieces of legislation when she
claims that parents cannot opt their children out of the Foundation Skills
    "The FSA is an assessment tool - not curriculum," notes Glen Hansman,
President of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association. "The
Ministry's Alternative Delivery Policy and Ministerial Order 295/95 (Required
Areas of Study in an Educational Program Order) do not provide for schools to
omit instruction of any Learning Outcome, and make explicit that parents may
not excuse their children from any Learning Outcome."
    "The legislation pertaining to FSA is different," he continues. "It is
true that the Minister has the right under the School Act to require school
districts to administer a test of her choosing such as the FSA. However, there
is nothing in the School Act, orders, or policy that prohibits students being
withdrawn from participation in the FSA based on a parent's choice. The
guidelines that come with the FSA are just that - guidelines, not law."
    In the spring of 2007, some Vancouver schools such as Bayview Elementary
School and Bruce Elementary School saw FSA participation rates as low as 7%
because of parents choosing to opt their children out of the FSA. Recently,
however, some Vancouver schools have not honoured parents' requests to opt
their children out of the FSA because the guidelines accompanying the FSA have
been given an elevated status and because of inconsistent messages from the
school district and other bodies.
    "We are pleased that the Vancouver Board of Education will be bringing
some consistency in the honouring of parents' discretion with regard to the
FSA," concludes Glen Hansman. "Vancouver schools serve diverse constituencies.
There should be a respectful, streamlined process that is consistent at every
elementary school in Vancouver and mindful of students' home language that
will allow for parents to exercise their discretion with regard to their
child's participation in the FSA - without having to justify their choice."

For further information:

For further information: please contact Glen Hansman at (604) 873-8378

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