Vancouver parents who can't read or write English have heard the Ministry of Education has released a report on the future of kindergarten to Grade 12 education only in English. They've phoned Vancouver School Board NPA trustee Sophia Woo to share their frustration, Woo says.
"Fifty per cent of the students in Vancouver, they don't speak English at home," she said.
Woo said fellow NPA trustee Ken Denike called the ministry to see if the recently released "B.C.'s Education Plan, Engagement - What You've Said-" report could be translated into a handful of the most spoken languages.
A ministry spokesperson said in an email the report is being translated into French and it may be translated into other languages depending on ministry resources. He noted the government has no policy requiring it to translate summary materials.
The spokesperson added that a concise overview of the education plan is available online in 13 languages and that translations include information about the variety of ways British Columbians can share their ideas.
Regarding the details of the report, Woo says parents of teenagers favour the idea of secondary school starting later in the day. Changing school start times was a common topic among the nearly 5,000 respondents to an online forum since October about education change in B.C., the report states.
Woo agrees there should be more parent involvement in education and that teachers should have more autonomy to make decisions about curriculum rather than focusing on prescribed outcomes. "A lot of immigrant kids, right, they may be like Grade 1 level in language and they may have reached Grade 3 level in math and science so you give them more choice, more individualized learning so they can learn much faster in areas that they're strong in," she said.
This perspective isn't specified in the report.
Woo said more parents want to participate in StrongStart Early Learning Centres where parents and caregivers with children up to five years old are required to stay and participate. "So the parents and grandparents can learn English while the kids go to school," Woo said.
Nineteen StrongStart Early Learning Centres operate in Vancouver elementary schools, according to the school board website. Respondents want class sizes to be reduced. They also want students to be taught social responsibility, global and cultural understanding and environmental stewardship.
Some say professional development days should be grouped together at one time, perhaps mid or late summer, to minimize inconveniences to parents, but the report notes many teachers prefer the current system. Others say teachers should have more autonomy to choose their professional development experiences.
Respondents appear to be divided on whether schools should switch to a year-round calendar or maintain the two-month summer break. Woo says parents don't want any changes imposed on their children. They want to be involved every step of the way.
The report states the ministry is rebuilding B.C.'s Education Plan website based on feedback from the public. The ministry did not say whether a revised website would include more translated information.
For more information, visit bcedplan.ca.