The latest update on questions about the recent announcement in Saskatchewan (for those who have not been following this issue, please refer to here, here, and here). In this instance it is the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) who are asking the questions.
November 22, 2022LLOYDMINSTER, Saskatchewan
Samantha Becotte, President of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, is expressing concern that the Government of Saskatchewan is moving too quickly to establish a new Treasury Board Crown Corporation for distance learning. The volume and complexity of policies, potential legislative changes and technological implications that must be considered cannot be accomplished on the government’s current aggressive timeline while maintaining vital and meaningful consultation with all education sector partners.
“This is an extremely complex process, and if the goal is to ensure a consistent high-quality education for all students accessing online classes, it needs to be done right the first time,” Becotte said. “At this time, government doesn’t even have a distance learning policy in place outlining where they are going and where they eventually want to be. Many students from all over Saskatchewan can benefit significantly from a well-run, well-funded and closely monitored online public education system that offers quality instruction from certified Saskatchewan teachers.”
To continue reading, visit https://www.stf.sk.ca/about-stf/news/stf-urges-consultation-transparency-provincial-distance-learning-crown
Much of what is included in this release from the STF is what you would expect from a teachers union on K-12 distance and online learning in Canada… For example, strong support of the concept.
“Many students from all over Saskatchewan can benefit significantly from a well-run, well-funded and closely monitored online public education system that offers quality instruction from certified Saskatchewan teachers.”
But a general concern for what this means for their members and, in particular, a desire to have meaningful input into the process. Interestingly, they provide their own list of questions for the Government of Saskatchewan on this move.
- Whether a Crown corporation is the best structure to deliver online public education and whether it is fiscally responsible?
- When the provincial distance education policy will be finalized and if education sector partners will be consulted in its development?
- What legislative and regulatory are required changes?
- What is the governance structure of the new Crown?
- What adjustments must be made to structures currently in place for funding, staffing, contracts, roles of principals and capital requirements?
- How connections will be maintained between local teachers and their nearby schools?
- What is the IT capacity required to build, distribute and train users of a new centralized online education platform?
- What potential screening criteria will be used to ensure prospective students have the time-management skills needed to benefit from online course instruction?
- How technological barriers, including computers and reliable internet access, will be removed to provide equitable access to all Saskatchewan students?
- Will a plan be developed to address possible negative consequences for students, such as increased screen time, reduced physical activity and mental health?
Adding to our running list of questions on these developments:
- Will all online programming have to go through the centralized hub or will divisions be able to maintain their own online programming?
- How can divisions that have existing online programming become involved in centralized online learning?
- How will centralized online learning accommodate the rights of religious schools?
Note that this news article suggests that Catholic schools were exempt.
- Will all divisions HAVE to use the centralized learning management system?
- Will the centralized online learning model be able to accommodate more flexible models of distance learning?