Canadian Education News

Math Results Show Two Decades of Malpractice
The Edmonton Journal reported that, “Math education in Alberta has reached a new low. Our rate of math illiteracy has doubled for Grade 4 students since 2011, with our most vulnerable students hit hardest.”

The trend is reported as a serious one. The international tests show low math scores. In the past, Albert ranked far higher than Ontario, for example, but has since sunk below. And is nowhere near the rankings of top performing countries such as Russia and Japan.

Those students most affected were the youth without math training in the home. Whether that be because the parents are unable to, or are unwilling or unable to pay for tutoring. Education Minister, David Eggen, said that this is a “bright red flag” for students in math with some socioeconomic groupings as more disadvantaged than others. Many professors and math teachers blame the lowered results on a new style of teaching math, called “discovery math” which discourages memorization of basic math facts such as multiplication tables, and instead encourages students be guided as they attempt explore multiple strategies for simple math problems.

$75 Million on the Table for School Proposals
“Alberta school districts have until Dec. 15 to submit proposals on how to spend their portion of the province’s new $75-million classroom improvement fund, Education Minister David Eggen said Tuesday,” The Edmonton Journal reported.

The announcement was made with the president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Mark Ramsankar, and the associate superintendent of Sturgeon Public School Division, Thomas Holmes. Eggen stated that the funding will improve the learning experiences of Alberta students, immediately upon implementation.

The $75 million fund was announced in May when Alberta school boards voted to accept a 2-year deal with 46,000 teachers in Alberta and is not a recurring fund. . It will be for the 2017-18 school year. Edmonton Public Schools get $10.6 million, the Edmonton Catholic Schools get $4.6 million, and the Calgary Board of Education gets $13 million.

Alberta political party leaders urge NDP to enforce LGBTQ policies
According to CBC News: Edmonton, the political party leaders of all stripes have been insisting that the NDP government of Alberta protect the LGBTQ rights of students. David Khan (Liberal, leader), Greg Clark (Alberta Party, leader), and Doug Schweizer (United Conservative Party, candidate) called for its enforcement.

The enforcement of the legislation and policy are meant to protect gender and sexual minority students. The appeals to government were prompted by a leaked report from CBC News. The report “suggests up to 22 per cent of school boards may not have policies in place.”

Clark said, “It just shows how much work there is still to do. I think people think these issues are settled and they’re clearly not.”

“It’s the law of the land. If they’re not complying with the law, they’re acting illegally,” Khan said.

Ontario schools’ sex ed seen as “progressive” and “forward-thinking” example for Alberta
The Daily Herald Tribune stated that JoAnn Cazakoff, vice chair of the Grande Prairie Public School (GPPS) board, noted the need for Alberta’s sex education to alter to modern standards. GPPS District superintendent, Sandy McDonald, presented an outline for the Human Sexuality curriculum.

McDonald said this is to modernize it. When Cazakoff requested the information, she was impressed by Ontario’s new sex education curriculum. She said that Alberta can follow Ontario’s example, where she views Ontario as “progressive” and “forward-thinking.”

The current Health and Life Skills curriculum emphasizes identification of external body parts and their function in the early grades, the human reproductive system at grade 5, and, in grade 7, the social influences of sexuality in addition to gender roles and equity.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is AUSU’s VPFA. He works with various organizations, and runs In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, and In-Sight Publishing.

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