Theme 5: Quality of Education and Diversity

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There was a lot of conversation about the quality of education a student receives in a rural school. While many felt the rural educational experience is superior to urban schools, others felt the opposite and described a large divide between the experiences of students in rural versus urban districts.

Some talked about the lack of diversity in small rural schools, and felt more cultural experiences and lifestyle teachings could be brought into rural schools to help prepare students for the world outside the rural community. Also mentioned was the need for English as a Second Language funding so that the school system can make room for these children in rural communities.,It was also felt that schools need funding to help refugee students settle in.

There were also mixed feelings about what can be accomplished in a small school. One commenter who has lived rurally his whole life and has experience  in a rural school as a student, teacher and  administrator said he is witnessing declining enrollment, which is resulting in real challenges in delivering educational programming. In contrast, a commenter in the Thompson Okanagan felt their small numbers have inspired a progressive approach and a reimagining of school, which has resulted in hosting 31 school visits over the past few years on their creative approach to personalized education.

Consistently, there was tremendous pride for students coming from a rural school who had succeeded.

Question: What can government do to protect the quality of education at rural schools and support diversity?

14 responses to “Theme 5: Quality of Education and Diversity

  1. Jennie

    Rural high schools do not have the number of students to justify the number of teachers needed to offer a variety of classes. Basics are only offered, and at some times, offered every other year. That may mean that to get into university, a student might need to take Grade 12 classes, such as Physics 12, in their Grade 11 year because the school may not offer it the next year (unless they choose to do it through correspondance.) High schools should be given a different funding ratio so that students have the ability to get the classes that they need to graduate and for their future.

  2. Wayne

    Teacher student ratios tend to be lower in smaller communities. Education research shows that lower ratios are correlated with better outcomes. Modern education models include online learning and new approaches to timetables and course scheduling. Support for rural schools to keep small classes and to develop effective online learning should be top of mind. Diversity and culture can be part of the curriculum if the community does not have a variety of cultural groups.

  3. Rhonda

    I believe that if every student in Rocky Mountain School District #6 has reliable, supervised internet access – we will continue to have students meet with phenomenal success!! There is not one question that can be asked that does not have dozens of answers on the internet!! Critical Thinking to ascertain the best answer to your question will always accompany the use of the Internet.

  4. Alexander

    The question, in other words, asks how governmental policy could influence education in a rural district to the effect that it is able to take measures similar to the Thompson Okanagan example. Small is not only beautiful, as Eugen Schumacher observed, it also imparts a measure of curricular latitude and attention to the individual that is not feasible at large urban institutions. To make use of that opportunity, resources are required in excess of the provincial average. Small remote/rural schools require and deserve a greater share of per capita resources. There is also the potential for such schools to learn from each other's experiences, something that the Ministry could facilitate.

  5. Tania

    Thank you Kathleen for your comments. Yes we choose where we want to live and that choice is many times lifestyle or even financial. Why should where we choose to live limit our children's access to the education they require. Plus as a government agency their comment was shocking but this is the attitude of our government it seems. I know we moved to a Rural area as we wanted to own our own home but couldn't afford the prices so had to move further out to have this.

  6. Tania

    I agree with the comment made by Debbie. Per student funding is not always the best formula for funding as needs in a Rural school can be different then the Urban schools. Most times they are smaller schools so the number of students is less meaning less funding, but still these students require the same level of education and this should be provided to them. We needed to support and educate our children or we are going to be in trouble when we have uneducated adults looking after us because we are all going to get old and will be dependent on our youth now to make decisions for us later.

  7. Adrienne

    We have had many great experiences with our children out in our rural school. I find that our community has a great level of involvement in the school, and I feel that makes all the difference. The whole community if proud of the kids and the school, that is an amazing thing for kids to be a part of.

  8. Debbie

    Unfortunately smaller rural schools lack resources that larger urban schools have. Technology is a huge factor. Schools are funded on a per student basis. Small school, less money. Technology is expensive. In my experience, small schools end up being the "have not" schools. Not only with technology- but with gym equipment, teaching resources such as reading anthologies, text books, etc . I believe it sets the rural student back from their counterparts in urban schools. Funding formulas need to change- every schools needs to be equipped fairly.

  9. Tim

    my school district has 3 small high schools. Often some grade 11 and 12 core subjects are not taught forcing kids to wait until next year or taking them by correspondence. Either we need to close a highschool, convert 2 of them to a jr /sr high only or part technology in the class so the calculus 12 teacher can teach in one school with some students in the other school seeing her via video conferencing. Also kids that transfer in in the summer are not left with many choices e.g. my daughter could not get any gym classes in her first year here after we moved to this town. Class sizes need to be more flexible.

  10. tim

    other than ticking off a box to make some people feel good, I don't see any real benefit to a white, christian teacher for example talking to white, christian students about another groups "experiences" Reminds me of going to school in the 60's. My teachers tried but what I heard was not accurate.

  11. Ross

    The Ministry's funding formulas are critical to rural education and have the potential to be adjusted to drive improvements in the educational experience at rural schools. Funding should enable and encourage innovative approaches to delivering curriculum, particularly at the secondary level. Relatively cost effective approaches including blended learning, video conferencing, and hybrid course delivery could enhance the curriculum and enable greater course diversity in smaller schools. Sustaining small rural schools will require school districts to look beyond the traditional school models and encouraging this sort of innovation should be part of the rural education strategy.

  12. Kathleen

    One of my daughters recently graduated from high school and the other is still attending. Both have spent their whole lives in Kitimat, B.C.. There are currently only 426 students in grades 7-12. Therefore, the number of students interested and capable of taking academic courses like Physics 12, Biology 12, Calculus 12, Francais Langue, Science Humaine etc. is bound to be limited. Likely, we may not have 25+ students which make it economically feasible to run such classes. However, I think it is extremely important that our children have access to them.
    Firstly, I believe every child should have access to quality education regardless of location. Moreover, while universities do not require these courses for entry, I believe it is extremely helpful for students during that initial first year. My older daughter said that she would have found First year calculus incredibly difficult without calculus 12, even though it wasn't actually required. University is a hard adjustment for any individual. I think it can be even harder for students from very remote areas, unused to larger centres and very far from home. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to set them up for success.
    Secondly, Kitimat and other towns are possible locations for industrial expansion and development. My husband worked in human resources at RTA and can speak from first hand experience about some of the difficulties experienced in the recruitment of engineers and other professionals. It is even harder to recruit these individuals if the school system is unable to offer quality and diverse education.
    Thirdly, people who grew up in small towns will often return following post secondary school. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that our youngsters today get what they need to develop their skills and return as doctors, nurses, engineers, occupational therapists and the myriad of other professionals needed in our community.
    On a purely personal level, I have seriously considered having to move with my family due to limitations during my second daughter's final secondary years. I am not alone in this sentiment. Nor do we have the go to solution of private schools. The only one in town does not extend into grades 11 and 12. When I spoke to the ministry of education about my concerns, I was told 'you chose to live there'. This is true. However, I did not anticipate that the choice might limit my daughter's educational options.

  13. Morgan

    The government needs to make sure a student in the rural setting can access the same field trips that a student in a city can ie. trips were the student engages with hands on and visual learning.
    This should be paid for by government money and not by local fundraising efforts by the students or the parent advisory council's that many schools have. I know fiscal responsibility is at the top of th list for government, but we should not take it out on the young students.
    Not all of the parents come from privileged back grounds and can afford the best education for our children becouse we can. So rural schools can produce real leaders in the world if they get equal opertunity.

  14. Dan

    This is the crux of the matter in a nut-shell — the ability of rural school to deliver a viable educational program based upon current funding formulas which are skewed towards larger schools.

    Rural education is not necessarily 'better' but it is certainly 'different' .

Comments are closed.