Fraser report cards don’t measure up

In today’s paper you will find the local results of the Fraser Institute’s annual report on B.C.’s schools.

In today’s paper you will find the local results of the Fraser Institute’s annual report on B.C.’s schools.

Usually these results would be first released in the Vancouver Sun and Province, but this year the Fraser Institute approached the Trail Rossland News’ parents company Black Press about getting the exclusive rights to run these report cards before any other media in the province. I was initially opposed to the offer because I believe these “report cards” are really nothing more than fodder for this province’s over-zealous right wing.

I still believe that.

You can’t create a report card on B.C. schools because comparing them is impossible. There are too many factors, such as affluence, poverty, language and population. Maybe this report is relevant from a socio-economic perspective, but that would mean the Fraser Institute should be grading communities and regions rather than schools.

The negative impact of these reports should also not be undermined. Because of its flaws, this report casts what are likely very good schools, and ultimately very good teachers, in a bad light. For example, schools in very poor communities are compared with schools in wealthy communities, and while the schools may be equal in size, that is where the equality ends. There might be wonderful things happening in the poorer school, but that day’s biggest challenge might be maintaining a breakfast program so that students learn on a full stomach.

The decision to run these results was made because they would be released regardless of whether or not this newspaper ran them, and running them would give us the opportunity to provide our readers more than just the Fraser Institute perspective. It would give us the opportunity to write a balanced, fair story on what these results really mean at the local level. I think we have done just that.

Another reason is because I hope it leads to positive and important discussions between parents and their child’s teachers and the school’s administration. I hope that by presenting both sides of this issue, parents will take the time to find out more about their child’s education and the many successes that are happening within our schools, and I truly believe the successes far outweigh the failures. Ultimately, that might be the best report card any school could get.

— Chuck Bennett

Group Publisher, Black Press, Kootenays

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