Class­rooms to­day need new thought

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

I ap­pre­ci­ate the amount of at­ten­tion that stu­dent teacher ra­tios are re­ceiv­ing in the media. When such a di­verse group of peo­ple is com­pelled to speak on this topic (such as protesters, Molly Doyle’s let­ter etc.), I al­ways lis­ten. Cana­dian Par­ents for French P.E.I. is also in­ter­ested in this sub­ject.

I de­cided to get a bit more ed­u­cated on the sub­ject. Ac­cord­ing to mem­bers of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment, the av­er­age stu­dent– teacher ra­tio is recorded at just be­low 16:1, but ranges from 28:1 in Mexico to 11:1 in Hungary and Lux­em­bourg. Such fig­ures of­ten rep­re­sent av­er­ages and are likely af­fected by skew­ing. For ex­am­ple, if one class­room has a 30:1 ra­tio and another has a 10:1 ra­tio, the school could thus claim to have an over­all ra­tio of 20:1 ra­tio. A school could be in com­pli­ance with the min­is­ter’s di­rec­tive but not with the in­ten­tion of the di­rec­tive.

An ad­di­tional fac­tor is the di­ver­sity among and be­tween stu­dents; such as the vary­ing de­grees of learn­ing abil­i­ties in the class­room. A teacher may have to spend var­i­ous amounts of time with in­di­vid­ual learn­ers in the class­room. This could be quite dif­fi­cult for a teacher with a teacher with the same ra­tio as his/her col­league, but with a greater num­ber of stu­dents with vary­ing ed­u­ca­tional needs and re­quire­ments.

So although P.E.I. re­ports av­er­age stu­dent-teacher, don’t you think it is time to take another look at how we cal­cu­late stu­dent­teacher ra­tios? I be­lieve we can look at de­clin­ing en­roll­ment as an op­por­tu­nity. Wouldn’t it be great to be the first province to throw out the old-school way of think­ing on this sub­ject and jump into the re­al­ity of to­day’s class­rooms - they have changed. Gail Lecky, CPF P.E.I.

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