Monday marked the beginning of Education Week in the Central Okanagan School District.
The board of education appreciates the amount of space The Daily Courier provides for school district news, especially the four pages for Education Week.
Monday also marked the day the Fraser Institute's Elementary School Rankings were published. The headlines on the front page read: "Top grade for private schools."
These rankings, or "report cards," as the Fraser Institute calls them, are based on a snapshot of how students are doing at a particular time, namely the Grade 4 and Grade 7 Ministry of Education Foundation Skills Assessment tests.
The rankings do not give the whole picture of how our students are doing, nor do they show how our public schools strive to meet the needs of all the children entrusted to our care.
It is an undeniable truth that, when the results of the FSA tests are released, the private schools achieve higher marks. This is to be expected.
While private schools may say that they are open to all students, many have entrance exams.
Some are unable to accommodate special-needs students. Most are based on the "prep school" concept - an academic school preparing students for university.
And then, there are the fees to send students to private schools The parents of the students in private schools, whether those are faith-based or not, have chosen that route for many reasons, and I am certainly not espousing the abolition of private schools.
What I am saying, is that comparing any school to another is often unfair, especially with no background information provided.
Our public schools are the cornerstone of a democratic society. We have recognized the differences that children bring to our schools and have put in place programs to meet the needs of all who enter our doors.
The Ministry of Education's statement states: "The purpose of the British Columbia school system is to enable learners to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy society and a prosperous and sustainable economy."
That is why our programs not only prepare learners to attend university, but also to enter the trades or the workforce, or to contribute however they are able in the world after school.
So, while it is important for us know how our students are doing in tests such as the FSAs so that we can use the results to improve programs and their delivery, we do not support the results of such tests being used to publicly rank schools.
We will also not allow arbitrary rankings to diminish the pride we feel in the successes we see and celebrate, not only during Education Week, but throughout the entire school year.
The theme of this year's Education Week is 21st Century Learners - Celebrating Public Education.
With so many exciting things happening this week in our schools and in the community, we hope that many will take the opportunity to find out for themselves what 21st-century Learning is all about in the Central Okanagan's public school system.
Moyra Baxter, chairperson,
Central Okanagan board of education