LETTER: Do we value education?

B.C. students score high in Olympics of Learning

The nations of the world participate every three years in the Olympics of Learning, called PISA testing for 15-year-old students. Canada is one of the few countries which has every province over-sample so that results can be compared with countries.

B.C., as expected, performed extremely well. In reading, B.C. was first in Canada and second in world. In science, B.C. was second in Canada and third in the world. In mathematics, B.C. scored second in Canada and ninth in the world.

It must be difficult for the BCTF president to see that B.C. is one of the elite educational systems in the world. How does he make a case that schools are underfunded?

Of course, the recent court ruling about class size is a potential fallback. More teachers mean more union dues, but does class size reduction improve quality of education?

A few years ago, Alberta was the highest performing school system in the world. That government yielded to its union and lowered class sizes with a steady decline in student achievement.

A surge in teachers brings higher costs but not better results, because the teaching force is diluted by adding too many lower performers. Researchers have only identified Iceland and Greece as countries where lower class sizes improved learning.

Another interesting aspect about these PISA results is how lowly they are valued by the media. Front page headlines would dominate our newspapers if B.C. athletes went into the Olympics of Sport and won more gold medals than virtually all countries.

In our two provincial newspapers, readers may have discovered the few sentences buried in the paper.

Of course, celebrating such success is difficult these days when media is more focused on trying to stir controversy. We really do not value education as much as people like to say.

Jim Dueck

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