The pros and cons of school choice in B.C.March 1, 2014
School choice has been a priority for the Liberal government since it was elected in 2001.
As a result, B.C. students are now able to cross boundaries easily to attend schools outside of their neighbourhoods and have opportunities to pursue their passions in arts and sports by attending an array of special academies within the public-school system.
The Liberals have also been firm in their support for independent schools and have boosted funding over the years (although the operating grants for independent schools remain unchanged at 35 to 50 per cent of those in the public system).
The government’s commitment to school choice is mentioned as part of the BC Education Plan.
While many are thrilled to have more options, some worry about the impact on neighbourhood schools. In a recent blog post, Langley principal Chris Wejr said he fears school choice has led to a competition that will result in winners and losers.
“To provide what some families want, many districts have created specialized schools and academies to try to attract (and beat out other schools/districts in competition for students). By doing this, neighbourhood schools often lose students and staff with strengths in certain areas,” he writes on his blog, The Wejr Board.
“For example, if we have school(s) that specialized in music education, they will attract many students and teachers with strengths in music. How does this impact the music programs in other schools? How does this impact the music education of the students who cannot access the specialized school?”
Those are among the questions posed by Wejr that prompted a good discussion, which you can find here. Wejr is principal at James Hill elementary and was a guest presenter at the BCCPAC leadership conference in the fall.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization.