Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter prom­ises more re­sources for teach­ers

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Front page - BY JONATHAN PAR­SONS Jonathan.par­sons@thep­acket.ca Twit­ter: @je­j­par­sons

New­found­land and Labrador Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood Devel­op­ment min­is­ter Dale Kirby says he’s been talk­ing to teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents while help­ing de­velop plans for the prov­ince’s ed­u­ca­tion.

Kirby pre­sented a speech to the Clarenville Ro­tary club on Mon­day, with mem­bers of the Cham­ber of Com­merce in at­ten­dance.

In his ad­dress, which heav­ily fo­cused on ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy in ed­u­ca­tion, Kirby went over the 2018 pro­vin­cial bud­get, the Premier’s task force on ed­u­ca­tion, and the soon-to-come ac­tion plan re­sult­ing from the task force.

An ex­am­ple of one of the up­com­ing im­prove­ments in schools is funds al­lot­ted over the next three-year pe­riod for more teacher li­brar­i­ans, as well as teach­ing and learn­ing as­sis­tants (or teacher’s aides who work along­side the teach­ers), and read­ing spe­cial­ists.

“It’s a re­newed fo­cus for the prov­ince for the K-to-12 sys­tem now on ba­sics, by-and-large, read­ing and math­e­mat­ics,” said Kirby in his speech.

In an in­ter­view with The Packet, he elab­o­rated on these plans.

“If you go back and look at the task force re­port and what they rec­om­mended, there’s no doubt there are de­fi­cien­cies in the in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion model that have been iden­ti­fied long ago,” Kirby said. “One of the things we’re go­ing to do now and catch up with the rest of North Amer­ica is in­tro­duce this new role in schools called teach­ing and learn­ing as­sis­tants.”

Kirby says these re­sources will help teach­ers de­liver their les­son plans, and while there won’t be one in a given class­room 100 per cent of the time, each teacher will have sched­uled num­ber of hours with an as­sis­tant through­out the school week.

“That will go a long way to al­le­vi­at­ing some of the pres­sures be­cause you’ll still have stu­dent as­sis­tants as well.”

Kirby says, in ad­di­tion, with school-based read­ing spe­cial­ists prob­lems can be ad­dressed at an early grade, with the in­ten­tion of pre­vent­ing stu­dents from ad­vanc­ing fairly far through school with de­fi­cien­cies in read­ing be­low grade level.

He added, these po­si­tions will help free up time for other po­si­tions in the schools.

He says they’re also go­ing to en­sure teach­ers have the tools they need to ef­fec­tively teach the stu­dents in ar­eas like tech­nol­ogy and other in­no­va­tive sciences.

“We’ve got quite a lot that’s hap­pen­ing, now we’re go­ing to pro­vide more re­sources,” he said in his ad­dress to Ro­tary.

Kirby also claimed that the pub­lic per­cep­tion the prov­ince is “go­ing bank­rupt” is not based on “sense or fact.”

Us­ing up­com­ing spend­ing in his de­part­ment as an ex­am­ple, he added there were five brand new schools opened in the prov­ince last year, two re­pur­posed or re­fur­bished fa­cil­i­ties and one in Mi­aw­pukek First Na­tion in Conne River.

He says there is $200 mil­lion marked by the gov­ern­ment for new school in­fra­struc­ture and re­pairs and main­te­nance over the next five years — $43 mil­lion this year alone.

Lo­cally, while over the past cou­ple of school years many par­ents have lob­bied for so­lu­tions at River­side El­e­men­tary — which has had com­plaints of over­crowd­ing — both Kirby and Terra Nova MHA Colin Hol­loway, who was in at­ten­dance, say they be­lieve the mat­ter is set­tled for the time be­ing.

In the in­ter­view af­ter the meet­ing, Kirby said the mod­u­lar class­room ad­di­tions ad­dressed the ca­pac­ity is­sue.

He says there are no fur­ther ex­pan­sion plans, but he doesn’t know what the school dis­trict will pro­pose for up­grades next year.

“The way it hap­pens is the school districts… will sub­mit their pro­pos­als for in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments, or what­ever, and then they pri­or­i­tize it.”

Hol­loway added this year there are 100 fewer stu­dents in River­side and the cafe­te­ria sched­ul­ing has helped.

“That con­ges­tion is­sue is not the same to­day as then,” said Hol­loway.

The school has re­cently re­ceived a new gym­na­sium floor as an in­fra­struc­ture up­grade.

“I’ve talked to the par­ents (and ad­min­is­tra­tion) and I don’t think they have the same level of con­cern as they had last year. But if it be­comes an is­sue again, it’s some­thing that we will work with school board to (rem­edy).”

The prov­ince’s ed­u­ca­tion ac­tion plan is ex­pected to be re­leased be­fore the end of this school year.

JONATHAN PAR­SONS PHOTO

Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dale Kirby at Ro­tary in Clarenville on Mon­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.