In February 2018, the Minister of Education —Rob Fleming— appointed a panel of seven members to develop recommendations in regards to how funding is distributed in BC’s K-12 education sector. The Independent Funding Model Review Panel has interviewed numerous groups and individuals on their perspectives of the current funding model and they concluded that it is this review is well overdue.
The Panel’s review on the education system funding was to update the current system’s algorithm from its version in 2002 and to adapt it to help all students including those from populations like Indigenous cultures, those with unique learning needs and children in care. The current system focuses more on general funding rather than personalized funding for students and geographical considerations (the physical area that a school/ district is located in. For example, high-density cities and wide-spread rural cities will differ in funding needs for their schools). Along with the focus on tailored funding, the purpose of a new funding algorithm is to align more appropriately with BC’s new curriculum.
The Panel has identified several issues that they hope to address with their 22 recommendations* that are centred around three main themes:
Equity of Educational Opportunity (Recommendations 1-11)
Distribute financial resources that will support students towards success by fairly providing educational opportunities
Student outcomes should be monitored with an effective system in order to determine whether the educational needs of students are being met
Financial Management (18-22)
Addressing the costs of the continuing price inflations of resources puts strain on the current financial formula that does not factor inflation in. They want to recognize these costs to ensure that educational services are adequate.
*Although there are 22 recommendations, I will highlight the most pertinent suggestion and summarize information that may affect you as many of the suggestions affect administrative duties or do not affect the majority of the student body.
—The 9th Recommendation suggests that the cut ties from course-based funding and move towards one that focuses on the number of students. The recommendation advises that they should phase out this course-by-course models by year 20/21. This recommendation raises several red flags that us, as students, should be aware of. Firstly, the 9th recommendation, as noted by SD43’s review, will limit students’ choices to only eight blocks. The consequences of this recommendation is that it reduces the flexibility for students to change their educational path for both trades and post-secondary thus potentially hindering student success and/or graduation rates. This recommendation also poses a probable issue towards students who are vulnerable and/or have special needs as the lack of flexibility may tend towards a higher result of failure. This recommendation may also limit the amount of fine art courses. By limiting the opportunities of the fine arts, the 9th recommendation encounters some conflict with the Policy for Student Success —guidelines and principles to prepare students for the future— that expresses the component of an educated citizen (Human and Social Development) as an appreciation of the fine arts; with limited course selection opportunities the recommendation is essentially stabbing themselves in the back.
As a secondary student who has had course loads that exceed the necessary 8, I feel that these courses often provide the most unique experiences that a student be involved in. For example, this year I participated in Theatre Production and I was able to exercise and learn a practice skill set that included both the construction of theatre sets and other skills that teach how to combine the use of fabric, paint, wood and screws to create a functional and attractive set piece as well as enable my proficiency in technology by learning how to set-up a projector, conferencing with clients who use the theatre space and learning how the sound and lighting systems work. Compared to mandatory courses like math that are seen as foundational courses, the math curriculum arguably teaches skills that are less particle, and more theory andfact based. I have also taken fine arts courses like band, where the learning capabilities are not capped unlike other courses where the theory is that students are able to continuously evolve and make stylistic choices to the music one plays.
Though the impact of this recommendation is not fully understood, one may suspect that this recommendation will affect other courses like Agility, other outside of the timetable music courses and theatre courses.
It is important to note that none of these recommendations are written in stone and the panel will be interviewing with stakeholders (students, school boards, parents etc.) to collect input on all 22 of the recommendations.