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Part 8: Chilliwack Teachers’ Association questions school board candidates

The CTA asks potential trustees if teachers should be free to determine their classroom resources
The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association has presented Chilliwack School Board candidates with 10 questions leading up to the 2022 municipal election Oct. 15, 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Black Press Media)

The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) sent a questionnaire to the 15 candidates running for the Chilliwack School Board in October’s municipal election.

The CTA posed 10 questions, and the Chilliwack Progress will publish the questions and answers one at a time. See links to previous questions and answers below, and we continue today with part eight. The remaining questions and answers will be released as election day approaches on Oct. 15.

Today’s question is, “Ministry of Education policy states, ‘Educators are best suited for determining the resources that are most appropriate for use in their classrooms.’ Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?”

Answers below are presented in alphabetical order by first name. Candidates Elliott Friesen and Richard Procee didn’t provide responses before the CTA deadline.

RELATED: Part 1 - Chilliwack Teachers’ Association questions school board candidates

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Barry Neufeld:

Educators certainly have a unique skill set and their ability to determine the most appropriate resources is important. But I am a firm believer in a multidisciplinary approach. While a resource might be effective in a classroom, educators might be blind to other unintended effects. There should be an open, collaborative effort to select resources involving parents and other professionals.


Brian Van Garderen:

I agree with this statement, the reason being is through each teacher training program teachers are taught how to use information and resources that students can connect with and help them draw their own ideas and conclusions. Resources are also ways teachers can connect with student experiences and help foster a more inclusive environment. As a teacher, I believe it is important to keep teachers’ autonomy as professionals, as long as it creates a safe, respectful and inclusive learning environment.


Carin Bondar:

I agree with this statement. While ministries can make blanket guidelines and recommendations, it’s always best for decisions about immediate needs to be made at corresponding levels. Teachers know their own students, the level of comprehension and interest that they have towards specific subjects. At a large scale (i.e. for graduation requirements/successful completion of each grade) there should be guidelines, but teachers and educators should have some leeway for selecting resources that they prefer, and ones that they know will be useful for particular groups.


Darrell Furgason:

I agree with the statement, but with the following caveat…. Educators must still be accountable for what they teach… the parents, to the School Board (aims values, and policies) and to Canadian law.


Darren Ollinger:

I agree with the statement that teachers or educators, parents being included in that set; are best suited for determining appropriate resources in the classroom because their [the educator’s] watchful eyes are on the frontline to witness how the student relates socially at school and at home. Up to a certain age the educators are entrusted to make the decisions regarding the child, for example: as the parent provides censorship on the family television set and to implement security features on the internet. Likewise they decide on whether the relationships with the child and their friends are appropriate, or more succinctly, socially healthy. Teachers can report to the parents at PTA meetings not only on academic issues but those including the disposition of the student and his or her social development


David Swankey:

My position is as it was in 2018. “Teachers are professionals and have the autonomy to determine the resources they use in their classroom. This flexibility is essential so educators can connect the material with the student.”


Greg Nelmes:

Yes, I agree with this statement. However, teachers must be very familiar with the Ministry Curriculum Strands and the Resources available.


Heather Maahs:

The Ministry of Education also says Board of Education will approve learning resources. The Ministry has done this as it understands the need to set parameters around expectations for the children in regard to appropriateness and science on behalf of the communities they serve. Please see Legislated Order July 1, 2017. Teachers also have professional autonomy in their classrooms as it should be, however controversial topics need top down parameters providing continuity in the school district.


Kaethe Jones:

Years ago I might have agreed but not now. Now I would say that some of the resources teachers have access to cross the line when it comes to appropriate material especially if it has sexually explicit/deviant content. Let’s face it. The majority of parents do not send their children to school to learn about sexual behaviour.


Margaret Reid:

Absolutely. The teachers I know are passionate about their work; about children, education, and excelling at their jobs. Teachers also receive the most up-to-date professional development to ensure they’re making research-driven decisions. I also think we can continue to provide teachers with great resources to ensure they have access to fund new classroom purchases to include fresh materials that reflect our community’s diverse backgrounds, experiences and needs. I am also mindful of the job description for Trustees, and that approving/denying specific curriculum is outside their purview.


Teri Westerby:

I agree with this statement. Educators are the experts, and they know their students and all the individual nuances of their learning styles. They would best know how to deliver the education to those students! However, there are times when a teacher may be ignorant of how best to support certain students, or how best to create a classroom that is accessible to all of their students. This is why the district and staff must continue to push education for teachers as well so that they can understand how to best select the resources that can support all of their students, which I know, they all want to do their best!


Willow Reichelt:

I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Teachers and librarians are trained to select resources that address curriculum and that generate student interest and create a love of reading. It is preposterous as well as impractical for anyone to suggest that trustees (the majority of whom have no background in education) should have control over learning resource selection.


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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