British Columbia

B.C. teachers' professional development standards to be set by government

The B.C. government is proposing a series of amendments to the School Act to set professional development standards it says do not currently exist.

Government says proposed amendments to the School Act will improve teacher satisfaction

The B.C. government has announced legislation to set professional standards for teachers it says they don't currently have. (CBC)

The B.C. government is proposing a series of amendments to the School Act to set professional development standards it says do not currently exist.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender says it's time professional standards for teachers were defined.

"Most professions — such as lawyers, accountants or nurses — set detailed standards for ongoing learning," the minister said in a statement. "Early childhood educators have clear requirements. It's time to put teachers on the same footing."

The legislation calls for a new professional development structure. Currently, although teachers are required to attend professional development sessions, what those sessions cover, is not determined by legislation.

Fassbender says the province won't be increasing funding for professional development, but will use the current budget "better."

The legislative changes proposed by the ministry would also allow school districts to save money by sharing services with other government offices and it gives the minister the authority to require school districts participate in specific sharing arrangements.

The ministry says it is also enacting legislation to allow it to disclose and use student data to to make improvements to the K-12 education system. In order to do this and ensure confidentiality, it says the legislation will align the School Act to incorporate current safeguards in the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act.

BCTF worried about new government powers

The B.C. Teacher's Federation said it was worried about several aspects of the legislation.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference, President Jim Iker said teachers were not consulted on the bill.

Iker said he wasn't too concerned about the professional development announcement because government has committed to work with teachers on the issue over the next two years.

However, he said he is worried about changes that give the  government new powers to issue directives to school boards and replace those who don't comply, with appointees.

He said it means government plans to continue to underfund education. Iker said the BCTF will have more to say about the legislation after it's had a chance to study it.

With files from Richard Zussman

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