Parent pans ministry’s education website

Learning tools, updates don't fill families' needs

The Ministry of Education has launched a new website to prepare parents in the event the teacher strike lingers after Labour Day.

The website at www.bcparentinfo.ca states a variety of resources are available at no cost through Open School BC and LearnNowBC, so parents can help keep their children engaged in learning.

It also offers the updates on the labour dispute, and if it continues into the fall, a portal where parents may register to receive the promised $40 a day for each child under 13.

Local parent Lori Dodds says she thinks government is offering this money as an olive branch to keep some parents happy.

She adds it won’t be paid out until up to 30 days after the month the teacher’s strike ends – and only for “eligible” children.

“That doesn’t really help most people with children in day care because most day-care centres collect funds every two weeks or once a month.”

She has a son attending 100 Mile House Elementary School, where she is a longtime member on its Parent Advisory Council. Dobbs says she has not decided if she will apply for the day care money.

“It outlines this is to help with learning and supervision of children under 13.”

Dodds says she believes this actually means day-care supervision, but she thinks there should be more concern for structured learning that also applies for older students, such as her other son who attends Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School.

“I don’t feel they are really concerned about the learning part, as much as they are keeping the kids safe and in day care, which kind of disappoints me because I have a child going into Grade 12. So, if I could get this money, I could give him extra support in areas that he might need it.”

Dodds explains she phoned Service BC and outlined her concerns, and asked “what about my child’s education, above age 13?” They advised her to call 1-877-387-3332, a tax credit line, she adds.

When that number is called, its automatic phone system states it is an income tax credit information line, she notes.

Dodds says she also phoned the Ministry of Education, which transferred her to a representative in Deputy Minister of Education Rob Wood’s office who indicated she has received a large number of similar calls.

“They have passed on the information – that above [13-year-olds] need to learn also.”

However, the local parent encourages others to express their opinions to the ministry, the school district, its trustees, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the local MLA.

“I assume once you get hit up by a whole bunch of people, you end up getting the message and passing it on.”

She adds that, in her opinion, the education resources offered on the website offer limited support and learning options.

“I would prefer to have a teacher any day over those resources. That’s only teaching my child one way, and not every child learns that way, and not every parent and child has access to computers and the Internet.”

The local library allows only a limited time each day on its online computers, she adds.

“That only benefits certain ways of learning, that’s why I prefer my child to be taught by someone who knows his style of learning.”

The website also offers updated information on the labour dispute, but Dodds doesn’t find that much help, either.

“I figure school’s not going to start in September. I’ll look for a tutor. That’s what I plan on doing for my son [in elementary school].

“Children lose so much knowledge during the summer, so when it goes past September, they are going to lose even more.”