CAPSC - giving parents a voice

Since 2001, CAPSC has acted as an independent voice for parents and school councils on issues in education.
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MATH LEARNING – WHEN
IS THE CONVERSATION OVER?

Feedback

Position Statement | Open Letter to Minister Eggen:
Math Learning and Parent Voice

Dear Minister Eggen;

A recent letter from Deputy Minister of Education Curtis Clarke states the department has cut off communication with Dr. Tran-Davies on the issue of math education.

“We consider the matter of how mathematics is taught at individual schools closed at this time and will not be communicating further with you on this topic,” Clarke says.

CAPSC executive is very concerned by this move, as the response seems to downplay the concerns of many Calgary parents who need solutions. Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies has gathered 18,000 signatures on her petition requesting changes to Alberta’s math curriculum.

Respected educators have echoed these concerns. Dr. John Bowman, professor of mathematical and statistical sciences at the University of Alberta, says significant problems are appearing at the post-secondary level in math-centric programs.

“In recent years, the high-school preparation of students enrolled in first-year Engineering Calculus and Honours Calculus courses at the University of Alberta has noticeably deteriorated,” Bowman says.

“Students are not coming in with the same level of skills. Exams that were the norm 20 years ago are too difficult these days. Ten years ago the discussion among the Math 100 and 101 instructors used to be where between 50 and 55 the cutoff for a passing grade should be.  The discussion now is where between 45 and 50 that passing grade should be.”

As a voice for students, parents are the primary stakeholder in education. Parents don’t have the luxury of public financing for advocacy issues that other stakeholders do. Considering this, government should make every effort to ensure meaningful access exists, even when the opinions expressed do not support government’s current direction.

Parents are worried. CAPSC executive has heard from parent members who, in a financially challenging time, feel forced to engage math tutoring outside of school at their own expense. This is not accessible public education. Although CAPSC has requested the results of the Student Learning Assessments (SLAs) that were meant to replace PATs, and the curriculum redesign modules submitted in January, Alberta Education has not yet released them.

Transparency and access are critical to a system of checks and balances. Providing this key information to all stakeholders, including parents, is essential to meaningful consultation.

We believe the Minister cannot delegate responsibility for math performance away from the Department of Education. If a school is underperforming, parents have no effective way to hold a school accountable. If the Minister will not hold school boards accountable, then who will?

In February, CAPSC organized an event to discuss ‘Keys to Math Excellence,’ inviting educators from across the system to participate in a positive discussion about best practices in math. Feedback from that event indicated that although parents are seeing the results of poor math curriculum, school boards have not been responsive enough.

Parents speak on behalf of children, whom the education system exists to serve. Research shows that parent involvement has a positive impact on student achievement. A continuing meaningful conversation between parents, school councils and educators serves to improve our education system.

Our parent members have clearly demonstrated that they consider parent voice, independent of school boards, to be necessary.  We hope that our democratically elected officials will continue to work with all parents to develop the best possible solutions.

We ask the Minister to re-open the discussion with parents, and to release the SLA results and curriculum redesign modules submitted to Alberta Education. We believe this is in the best interest of transparency and engagement with parents.

As the Minister just announced a complete overhaul of curriculum, we also look forward to hearing how CAPSC may assist the Minister in ensuring adequate consultation exists with parents.

Further information

Dr. John C. Bowman, quoted here, is Professor at the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, University of Alberta, BS Eng (Alberta), MA (Princeton), PhD (Princeton).

Link to access Dr. Tran-Davies response to Minister Clarke’s letter.  

TRANSPORTATION UPDATE

A note to CBE parents – The CBE has posted some bus maps and schedules for the 2016/17 school year, and more will be added. Check the bus maps and schedules link for more information.

CBE releases transportation plan for 2016/17 school year

CAPSC requests that the CBE invest in the technology and training recommended in the independent technical review, and that Alberta Learning provide additional short-term funding to support transportation of special needs students in the CBE system.

Improving public consultation on issues affecting Alberta’s largest public school system is a step in the right direction. Recently, the CBE brought forward six possible scenarios to manage the gap in transportation funding.  On May 31, 2016/17 transportation fees and strategy were announced. Parents will pay $335 per student, keeping costs manageable, but walk distances of 1.6 km for young students will remain, along with a reintroduction of congregated stops.

All of the scenarios presented to the public in early May were designed to fit the limitations of budget allotted to transportation. As a result, all compromise service or require higher fees from families, but provide minimal benefit. With the current plan, we anticipate that more families must drive, reducing the number of students paying into the system and making it even less viable. Traffic congestion and impact on the environment will continue.  Read CAPSC’s full recommendation here.

About the Alberta Fires

Thanks to those caring for Wood Buffalo’s evacuees

Parents know that teachers make an enormous difference in the daily lives of our children, but may not stop to think about what happens when crisis hits. As fire devastated Fort McMurray, school staff made sure that children in their care were safe. 

Kudos to the schools, community organizations and corporations who have opened their hearts and doors to help the residents of the Wood Buffalo region, as well as the first responders who are on scene. If you would like to share a similar story about school staff or parents who went above and beyond the call of duty, or what your school community is doing to help with the wildfire crisis, please let us know and we will post the information here and on our website.

Link here to access the full post, including how to find and give help.

STEM Talk & AGM

Wednesday, April 20
7 PM | Connect Charter School | 5915 Lewis Drive SW

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) in Education | Dr. Gina Cherkowski

Dr. Gina Cherkowski is a mathematics educator and researcher, a STEM professor and educational game changer. She earned a double cognate Ph. D. in mathematics education and culture studies. Dr. Cherkowski believes all students can, and should be, mathematically literate in the 21st century.

Link here to access the full post.

IN BRIEF

UPCOMING EVENTS

Transportation
Advocacy

Use these links to advise stakeholders of how transportation services are working for you.

School Traffic Safety Tools

Take advantage of these resources for improving safety around schools.

Lend A Hand

CAPSC is a volunteer organization.  Help us grow by donating your time and talents! We need:

  • Assistance with organizational tasks
  • Presenters on topics of interest to parents
  • Organizers for the School Council Volunteer/Traffic Safety awards.

Can you spare some time? Please e-mail info@capsc.ca.

Bill 10

CAPSC executive is hearing from many parents in regard to Bill 10. CAPSC is not taking action on this issue. We agree that individual parents are best positioned to provide input to policymakers, and as such we are not making any representations on behalf of parents on this issue. Our executive voted to make information sent to us available to allow parents to form their own opinions about the legislation and related concerns. If you would like to share a link that outlines an opinion in favour or against this legislation, please contact us.

Background Information on Bill 10
www.cbe.ab.ca/news-centre/Pages/Board-passes-second-reading-of-policy-changes-related-to-Bill-10.aspx
education.alberta.ca/media/1626737/91383-attachment-1-guidelines-final.pdf

understandingtheguidelines.ca

Parent-Led Response
concernedparentsofcbe.blogspot.ca/
familyshouldknow.com
parentchoice.ca/bill-10-petition/