Change a good idea, but where’s the money?

So we applaud the fundamental idea, but are waiting to see the rubber meet the road.

Any judgement on the new curriculum being instituted in B.C.’s public schools either this year (voluntarily) or next (compulsory) for kindergarten to Grade 9 students would be premature.

In general, we think that giving some new ideas a try in education isn’t a bad move.

There is no such thing as a perfect system and we can always do better.

Doing better requires some experimentation and patience to await the results.

We’re not advocating that the province lose its mind and jam some crazy system into place that will leave kids far behind.

But considered changes with the hope of creating a system where more kids are engaged and excited about learning is a minor risk worth taking.

There always seems to be some moaning from people whenever there are changes.

They seem to harken back to decades long gone by when memorization was king. They often attribute all of society’s ills to the loss of education’s emphasis on “the three Rs”: reading, writing and arithmetic.

Basics are still basics and it is still important for kids to know how to read and write and do at least some simple math.

We would expect any curriculum to take these into account. But there is so much to education beyond those basics.

We live in a different world now.

Kids learn how to look stuff up on the Internet using their parents’ cell phones as they’re learning to walk and talk.

Things like science and history, construction and automotive skills can really benefit from more hands-on learning and less memorization and regurgitation on tests.

We share Trustee Rob Hutchins’ concern, though, about funding to make this whole changeover work.

Superintendent Rod Allen admits there isn’t likely to be any extra funds coming from the province, which seems like a massive oversight in the planning of such a major shift.

If they’re truly committed to the success of this endeavour it’s a no-brainer that cash is needed for proper training and implementation.

Here, the province has fallen down on the job.

We’re also concerned about how special needs will be integrated into the new system.

Have they considered it?

Because the mechanisms we have right now to successfully include special needs kids into the school system are overloaded, if not outright broken.

The stark reality is that we don’t even know how many special needs kids we have in our district and what those needs are, because testing for them is so inadequate.

So we applaud the fundamental idea, but are waiting to see the rubber meet the road.

Cowichan Valley Citizen