Editor: In the Guardian’s Letter of the Day on January 3, Patty van Diepen concludes her analysis of the P.E.I. public education system by correctly stating, “We need to put in place greater resources at our schools to support our teachers.” Unfortunately, the present provincial government is determined to eliminate educator positions in our schools, despite recent PISA results which indicate that Island students need more intensive supports in our classrooms.
PEITF President Gilles Arsenault has insisted that cutting teaching positions will result in larger class sizes, and he has argued that money being spent on provincial assessments could be better used maintaining or enhancing teaching positions. He’s right.
The New Democratic Party of P.E.I. believes that assessment of student achievement is best determined by the classroom teacher, within the classroom environment. Standardized testing is a flawed and questionable method of measuring or predicting student success. Authentic accountability should begin at the grassroots level with trained educators who have a good knowledge of their students’ abilities.
These educators need opportunities to sharpen their individual skill sets through professional development days, and they need more, not fewer, human resources at the school level to help them address students’ individual needs and attributes.
A government that eliminates teaching positions is a government that is ignorant of the classroom composition needs of the modern school. Students with a wide range of learning needs demand more teacher attention, not less. Spending taxpayer money on creating more standardized assessments, while simultaneously depriving schools of appropriate numbers of educators, is shortsighted and counter-productive.
The government of Manitoba has cut back on provincially based student assessments in recent years, and now the government of Alberta is looking to follow suit. In P.E.I., on the other hand, the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development has committed to more testing through common assessments, while simultaneously depriving schools of necessary resources which would actually improve the learning environment. This government’s educational policy is clearly wrong-headed, and headed in the wrong direction.
Leader, NDP P.E.I.