Are summer vacations an antiquated practice? This 10-week break for students permitted them to work on their family’s farms and harvest crops during the summer months. It would be safe to say that nearly all children in Canada do not farm.
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark’s Liberal government introduced a series of amendments to the School Act as part of the Education Ministry’s Education Plan that would revamp much of the present school system.
One of the major revisions is to abolish the standard school calendar and replace it with a balanced school year that would include multi-week breaks about every quarter. The present calendar will be eliminated starting Sept. 2013 and will give school districts and individual institutions the options to do whatever is best for their students. This means school districts will not be forced to eliminate the standard school calendar or replace it with a balanced approach.
Much of the argument maintains that students lose their work ethic, knowledge of what they learned and any momentum they had in the closing months of the school year.
“Enabling greater flexibility and choice is a key component of BC’s Education Plan, and these amendments to the School Act will provide school districts with additional tools to support personalized learning,” said Education Minister George Abbott in a press release
Three schools presently operate with balanced school years, according to the Globe and Mail
Another important amendment is to mix online and traditional classes for students between kindergarten and the 12th grade. Currently, only students from grades 10 to 12 have this option. The amendment would also allow school boards to introduce fees for international baccalaureate programs.
“These changes provide greater autonomy, flexibility and recognize school boards as partners in education,” said Laurae McNally, Chair of the Surrey Board of Education. “Every school district has unique needs and challenges, and these amendments mean we’ll be able to provide greater flexibility and choice – and that means more options for students.”
Opponents of the bill argue that this measure is only really about saving money.
“The way they're going to save money is through reduced instructional time for students, and this is the enabling legislation to do that,” said Tara Ehrcke, Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association president, in an interview with the Times Colonist
. “This is about fewer teachers providing less instruction to students.”