British Columbia

Report slams B.C. College of Teachers

A new report on the B.C. College of Teachers raises serious concerns about the organization's credibility and independence, according to B.C. Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.
B.C. Education Minster Margaret MacDiarmid launched a review of the B.C. College of Teachers in May. ((CBC))

A new report on the B.C. College of Teachers raises serious concerns about the organization's credibility, independence and internal conflicts, according to B.C.'s Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

The report was written by lawyer Don Avison, a former senior public servant and university administrator, at the request of the college board.

"Mr. Avison's report into the B.C. College of Teachers raises some serious issues and concerns," MacDiarmid said in a statement released with the report. "In the coming weeks, I will be meeting with our education partners, including the BC Teachers' Federation, to review the report and discuss options for going forward."

The B.C. College of Teachers was created by the provincial government in 1987 to set standards and regulate professional conduct, qualifications and education for teachers. Its governing council has 20 members, including 12 elected by teachers.

According to MacDiarmid, Avison found the college:

  • Is not regarded as independent or credible.
  • Is impaired by its own internal conflicts and by meddling from the B.C. Teachers' Federation.
  • Lacks a balance between public interest and the interest of its members.
  • Has not taken responsibility for developing teacher competency.
  • Has lost the confidence of the education community.

Avison concluded the college needs to be reformed by the government, replaced by a new certification board or folded back into the Education Ministry.

Internal troubles brewing

The review was launched in May after the college chair Richard Walker said internal problems, which had been brewing for months, needed to be addressed.

According to Walker, 270 complaints had been made against B.C. teachers since 2003 and none had resulted in disciplinary action against a teacher.

Avison found in his report that "many of these complaints had been reviewed by the Registrar and had been found to be either beyond the Council's jurisdiction or not sufficient to warrant 'further action.'"

But he cited three instances where teachers had their credentials restored or upheld after serious wrongdoing. One had been convicted of sexual offences against students, another of drug trafficking and a third of forging court documents.   

"I found it remarkable frankly," Avison told CBC News.

The college's mandate includes assessing applicants for admission, issuing certificates of qualification, conducting reviews of certificate holders, and suspending or cancelling certificates when necessary.

The minister said the review is supported by the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, the B.C. School Trustees Association, the Federation of Independent School Associations, the B.C. School Superintendents' Association, and the BC Principals' and Vice-Principals' Association.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation, a labour organization representing teachers, was not listed among the supporters.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies

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