trad_school 

Traditional school proposed A traditional school educational movement in B.C. has found its way onto the table of the Howe Sound School Board. A group of parents have asked local trustees to study the possibility of creating a traditional school in the district. The group made a presentation to school trustees on Wednesday as a movement which gained steam in Surrey this year made its way up the coast to Squamish. Marcia Martin, spokesperson for the Proposed Traditional School, says they already have compiled an "enrolment interest list" which contains names of 90 prospective students throughout the district, most of them from Squamish. The local traditional school proposal contains a mandate which says some children "require a structured, consistent, teacher-centred environment with high expectations for behaviour and academic work." In September, the Surrey Traditional School opened its doors to students and eager parents, against the wishes of the Surrey Teachers Association. Complete with flag-raising ceremonies and uniforms, the school was heralded by organizer John Pippiths as a break through in a system which overlooked the educational basics for Ministry of Education intervention, direction and a lack of parental input. Martin says she started the drive for a traditional school in Howe Sound after seeing news stories on the Surrey facility and looking into the issue. "The more I saw and read about it (the traditional school), I thought, ‘This is for me,’" she says. According to Martin, the traditional school would be based on "high expectations in academic achievement and behaviour," with a primary objective to develop core discipline. "We have a lot of parents who would like to see more structure and more discipline in the school coupled with higher standards for students," she says. "We have some great teachers in the district, but in many cases they aren't given the framework by the Ministry of Education." A traditional school, with its focus on structure and recognizable uniforms, is actually a "tailored facility" much like the French immersion schools already operating in the district at Mamquam Elementary in Squamish and Brackendale Secondary. The aim, Martin says, is to create a variety of educational choices throughout the district so parents can choose a facility tailored to their children's needs. Martin says a "lack of consistency in methods and classroom environment" often doesn't allow parents to be as involved in their children's education and creates a separation between the home and the classroom. "It's necessary to have the expectations created at home backed up at school and vice versa," Martin says. Alex Miller, president of the Howe Sound Teachers Association, says local teachers feel a lot of the changes proposed by the traditional school are already taking place in classrooms. "Our mandate is to the children, not to the ministry (of education)," Miller says. "Teachers in this district are very clearly student- and family-oriented." Miller says there has to be a "sound educational basis" to any proposal to change the way students are taught in the district. "There is nothing documented that says this is a clearly better system for dealing with the demands society puts on children and adults in this day and age," Miller says. According to Martin, the proposed traditional school would not create any additional operating costs per pupil to the district. She added it is almost impossible to envision creating a new facility for the traditional school so the group is asking the board to evaluate any suitable surplus facilities. She says the school would have an open enrolment for any student in the district, from Squamish to D'Arcy. "We would like to have anyone be able to enrol on a first come, first serve basis, but that is kind of hard if you live in D'Arcy," she says. A public information meeting on the proposed traditional school will be held Jan. 31 at Howe Sound Secondary. Guest speakers will include John Pippiths of the Surrey Traditional School and Helen Raham, the executive director of Teachers for Excellence.

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