Wiping The Slate Clean Won’t Solve School Testing Wars



Wiping The Slate Clean Won’t Solve School Testing Wars

Because of the teacher union opposition to annual standardized testing many parents have been persuaded to withhold their children from the Foundation Skills Assessments (FSAs) in British Columbia.  The Principals Association has now joined in to request dropping the annual FSA as it has been so undermined it “is no longer able to do what it was designed to do” – that is, rendered meaningless.

Some people aim to placate or conciliate and say we must move on, but I and others have said this would be giving in to bully behavior.  The Vancouver school board chairperson wants out of the dispute.  Below is my answer to those who seek to “move on”.


To Move On or Zero-Out is an Utter Cop-Out 

(by Tunya Audain 20110123, comment to blog Report Card by Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun Education Reporter on story “Jameel Aziz gets mixed reviews on anti-FSA statement 20110121 http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/reportcard/archive/2011/01/21/jameel-aziz-gets-mixed-reviews-on-anti-fsa-statement.aspx)

Being the grandmother of four grandchildren in the BC education system I believe I have the credentials to be involved in this discussion.  I have said before that those who aim to be mediators or enablers in this FSA fight are just emboldening those who oppose standardized testing. We mustn’t submit to authoritarianism and to those with vested interests trumping the public interest.

Those who decry rhetoric are often the best exponents of rhetoric!  Why does Susan Lambert, president of BCTF, say the tests are “superficial”.  The 3R’s are never superficial to me!

We now have the chairperson of the Vancouver School Board saying VSB “wants out of the dispute.”  

I kept hearing all day Saturday on News 1130 that Patti Bacchus saw the fight as being between the Ministry, the teacher union and the principals. I heard this broadcast repeated over and over on my background radio.  Bacchus kept repeating, “It’s time to move on.”

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.  She was involved in the deed from a long way back.

See the News 1130 write-up here:  http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/173048–vancouver-school-board-wants-out-of-fsa-debate    What you won’t get is the vocal interview.

I will maintain, that if it wasn’t for the VSB efforts of over the past few years, we would not be in the position we are in now.  It was largely because of the FSA opponents within the VSB structure that the campaign to undermine the tests has been so successful. Vancouver’s success in achieving withdrawals is substantial. I don’t have the numbers, but it has been a model and inspiration for other opponents. Vancouver achieved a lot in getting that ball rolling.

I was at that pivotal meeting on Jan 7th, 2009 where the groundwork was laid and the push turned into shove. See the details here on Janet’s blog:


The meeting included Committee I and III members (Management Coordinating and Education & Student Services) totaling about 20 people around a table, chaired by Mike Lombardi, and 50 people in the audience.  Read the blog post referred to above, and all the comments.  The details are there.  

My comments said I felt the whole thing was pre-planned. A fait accompli.  The public meeting was staged for show.

From that meeting, my understanding was that a recommendation was to be prepared by a drafting committee proposing that DPAC produce a letter to parents to include the three Ministry options for withdrawal and that VSB would allow this to be distributed.  That this was a recommendation that would go before the next full regular board meeting, January 19th.

Imagine my consternation when I went to the January 19th board meeting to find the DPAC letter had already been produced (it was available for pickup with other papers) and that it had already been sent out to some schools.

In question period I asked why the approval of this letter did not come before the board as a whole and Patti Bacchus replied, with Roberts Rules of Order in her hand, and said that the Rules covered that.  I was dumbfounded.  

I still think this was a deceitful move, not going before the regular board for debate and discussion.

Furthermore, I think it was really a slick move by the committee members to have the DPAC be the ones to be seen publically assisting the parents with decision-making on this critical issue.  I see a lot of VSB people complicit in this initiative.  VESTA was a big player and had many members at that Jan 7 meeting as committee members.  (I think it’s a bargaining victory in Vancouver to have union members on all VSB committees.)

Certainly the BCTF article detailing why a “Parent Boycott” was required would have been read beforehand by committee members. “So, if a teacher boycott isn’t the answer, what is?

Simply put, we must strengthen and refine our existing efforts to undermine the tests and support a powerful parent boycott.”


Parents being used and manipulated again by the teacher union for their causes!

That was only two years ago. Much has been accomplished since in undermining FSAs and VSB should be credited for much of this present state of affairs. That meeting was an education for me.  I was rather naïve before, but VSB politicking at those meetings opened my eyes.

So please, people, don’t say, “Let’s forget all that.  Let’s move on.”  There’s some pretty atrocious politics involved. I think we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in how our society values are being undermined by some very dedicated vested interests.

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