Chilliwack shop teacher quits over safety concernsJanuary 10, 2014
Class composition is generally more of a concern in B.C. public schools than class size.
The difficulties for teachers with classes that include four or more special-needs students but no additional support are easily understood; the challenges associated with large classes depend on the subject, the grade, the students and the teacher.
But on Friday, class size was front and centre when the Chilliwack Progress reported that shop teacher Eric Munshaw is quitting his job at the end of January because of unresolved concerns over large industrial-arts classes.
Munshaw, a teacher at Mt. Slesse middle school, has been advocating for smaller classes for several years, while warning that a single slip-up in shop could have dire consequences.
“We just need one accident and that’s negligence,” he told the newspaper. “We’re not talking insignificant injuries. We’re talking life-altering, amputations, or worse – and that’s where we’ve been coming from since Day 1 on this.”
He says industrial education classes should have no more than 24 students, but he’s counted 28 such classes in Chilliwack that have more than two dozen students.
A district spokesman insisted safety is paramount and told the newspaper that schools take great care in organizing classes in collaboration with staff. Read the story here.
Munshaw, a veteran teacher who won a Prime Minister Award for Teaching Excellence in 2008, also threatened to quit over safety concerns in 2012, but he was persuaded to stay and lobby for change. He and several industrial education teachers subsequently developed a best practices guide for industrial education.
That guide says shop classes should be capped at 20 – fewer, if the class includes ESL and/or special-needs students.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.