Draft Discussion Paper: A Status Check on Rural Education

The following discussion paper is posted online using a new technology that allows for citizens to comment on a document on a paragraph by paragraph basis. Comments can be added by clicking on the bubble next to each paragraph. Each comment will be moderated so your comment will not appear immediately. Please read the B.C. government moderation policy prior to posting.

Maintaining the health and strength of rural education in British Columbia requires a clear understanding of where we stand. Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Education Linda Larson is currently undertaking a public status check, asking British Columbians to paint the picture of rural education as it exists today. The findings will help guide next steps in planning for the future of rural education.

Participants are being asked to provide input in a variety of ways, through an online discussion with the public (November 23, 2016 – January 9, 2017), surveys from superintendents and secretary-treasurers (under review), stakeholder submissions (currently being received and under review), regional open houses (beginning January 26, 2017) and input on this draft document (until March 15, 2017).

This paper is a summary of key themes identified during Phase 1 of the online discussion. These themes will help guide the conversation at regional open houses taking place across the province between January and March 2017.

Comments will be accepted on this draft paper until 4 p.m. on March 15, 2017. All feedback will be considered for the final report.

6 responses to “Draft Discussion Paper: A Status Check on Rural Education

  1. Doris

    Individuals are making uninformed decisions for the rural people. Though the intention is good – the depth of understanding is limited. The remarks at times are offensive – stating you chose to live where you live – so get over it.
    I am a rural resident that lives with my family on our cattle ranch. We are contributors to the economic development of our community and are environmental stewards of our land. We contribute to making our province a better place. Our communities are important to us and our schools are our vascular system that gives us life. Our rural schools are an extension of our well being. Without our schools many of us would live in isolation. We are restricted with limited internet services and in some cases the source of our communication is via the school. The challenges we face are different than our neighbours in urban settings. It is important that we are recognized for our contributions to making our communities, province and country a better place. If you are looking for an investment invest in rural education and communities. ( You will not regret it).

  2. Doris

    Because communities are so diverse and challenging the definition of rural can be problematic. For instance some communities and districts are made up of an urban rural population, where they live in an area that once was rural but has become more populated due to migration. Then there are the schools that are attached to that district that are in fact rural. 75%- 95% of their student population is being transported to the closet school in their area, riding the bus in some cases over one hour. These rural schools are vital to the existence of the community as well as to the students well being. Though cultural challenges are present and opportunities may create a challenge the community and teachers remain positive and focused on providing an optimal education. How can they achieve this is by regular consistent funding. It is vital for investment in the future of our leaders. It is important that when funding is given to rural bussing and initiatives that the funding actually goes to those students. For individuals to understand the life of a rural family or student an exchange should be made where there can be a shared experience, thus allowing a greater understanding. Look beyond the boundaries of your environment and come experience a therapeutic, supportive paced climate that will change you for ever.

  3. Mike

    To some degree, folk have options concerning where they live. Communities form and continue to exist for various reasons including the development of economic resources such as mining, forestry or agriculture or as transportation hubs. Serviced land may be available in such communities at low prices thereby offering lifestyle choices at family income levels that are attractive compared with living in major urban areas such as Vancouver and its satellite communities. Furthermore, some folk welcome the freedom for their children with living close to nature. The downside to living in such communities is that education and healthcare facilities may compare poorly with urban choices. Is it reasonable to expect the provincial government, through the taxpayer, to provide equal educational opportunities to both urban and rural students? As an extreme example, think children of lighthouse keepers on the remote BC west coast. I think not. Clearly there is a duty to provide educational opportunities to all children. The existing system of centralized community schools, which offer facilities for other community services work well. The existing rural school bus services, to service outlying communities are a necessary and reasonable solution to the needs of children from rural areas. Where a low population density dictates, it is unreasonable for such schools to offer specialized learning and training opportunities such as advanced courses in math and science and trades training for students with these aptitudes? In really remote communities, support for effective home schooling of children should be provided. This model has its proven successes, but needs an unusual level of interest and discipline on the part of both parents and students! David Suzuki did not suffer greatly from his early learning experiences in rural British Columbia.

  4. Shirley

    I live on Cortes Island, one of the discovery islands on the coast of BC, with a year round population of around 800. The most important thing we need in our community is a backup power system for the school and gravity feed water storage so that the school can operate during the many power outages we experience. So far in the month of February alone there have been at least four days that the school was closed due to outages. When combined with the scheduled days off there was a week when there was only one day that the school was open. Its a huge burden to working parents to have to find last minute childcare or to not be able to work because the school is closed. Especially when, as often is the case, the power is restored by 11am yet the school is closed for the entire day. Even worse than the burden on parents is the impact this has on the students to receive the education outlined in the curriculum.

    The school in my community operates from K-9. Starting in Grade 10, kids are expected to board in Campbell River to complete their highschool. Previously our school extended to include grade 10 but no longer does. The school here needs to have a senior teacher to provide an option for parents who need to remain in the community for work and want to be able to continue raising their children (many children are sent to board in town and are expected to get themselves to school and to bed on time. As a result there are many kids who either fail to graduate or graduate late). The ability of students to remain at home with parents until the completion of grade 12 is a huge advantage students in rural communities are not getting and would really benefit from.

    The other major issue at our school is that due to low numbers they are not able to provide separate classes to all the various grades. For the older students this works okay to be in a mixed grade class. Currently there are three classes in the school, k-3, 4-6, and 6-9. The way the grades are split between classes varies each year based on the number of kids in each grade.
    The biggest issues with mixed grade classes exist in the 'primary class' of grades k-3. The kids in grades 1-3 do not get to sit in a normal classroom environment where they have individual desks and personal space. They are essentially in a kindergarten environment for three years which is not good for them educationally, developmentally, or psychologically. Instead of having desks the kids sit at group tables like they do in kindergarten and this causes a lot of distraction. The kindergarten kids get to play at various themed 'centers' while the grade 1-3 students are expected to be able to ignore the noise and activity around them and do independent work at a group table. Because there is one teacher trying to teach 4 different curriculums at once the teacher is not able to provide adequate educational support or supervision to the different groups of kids. As a result the classroom is hectic, noisy, and poorly disciplined, which leads to a very difficult learning environment. Having some extra funding to provide separate classroom spaces for these lower grades would greatly improve these students chances of succeeding in later grades.

    Another thing that would really help improve the education in rural communities like mine would be the creation of a pre-kindergarten program. In my community there is only one pre-school available to enroll children who are too young for kindergarten. Many parents are not satisfied with the level of supervision or education provided there and many kids simply do not attend any formal education program until they are able to enroll in kindergarten. Having pre-kindergarten incorporated into the public school system would increase the number of students in the kindergarten class and could provide more funding to the school in order to create the division needed between kindergarten and grades 1-3.
    Parents whose children are born after the new cut-off date for kindergarten enrollment of December 31st would also have more options for their kids if pre-kindergarten were introduced. It is really frustrating that parents are no longer allowed to tell the school if their child is ready to start kindergarten. My child would have benefited from starting school at age 4 and would have turned 5 during that year but due to her february birth date she had to wait until she was 5.5 to start school. If there was a pre-kindergarten program it would have provided a solution for us other than preschool which for us was not adequate to meet her learning, social, or basic supervision needs.

    In summary: back power system so the school can operate during the many outages in our region, implementation of pre-kindergarten program, and funding to provide separate classrooms and teachers for kindergarten(with pre-k) and grades 1-3.

  5. Caitlin

    My two children attend school in a very isolated community – Bella Coola, BC. We currently have two schools: K – 5 and 6 – 12. I have three main concerns:

    1) Children as young as 11 and 12 are attending school with young adults up to the age of 18. This is not an ideal learning environment for either age group and they should be separated.

    2) There are constant struggles to recruit and maintain teaching staff especially in the senior grades. This results in a tumultuous environment for students in the senior grades as they are working towards university preparation, etc.

    3) There are currently senior level subjects (i.e. Biology 12, Chemistry 12, etc.) that are being "taught" to senior students through a "self-directed" learning model because there is NO staff to teach these important subjects. This results in many students leaving the community in the senior grades to attend school elsewhere just to get the basic instruction they need to graduate. This is unacceptable and places unreasonable demands on students and families.

    Thank you.

  6. ModeratorLynn

    This test worked.

Comments are closed.