Trustee motion for teaching material approval fails in Chilliwack

School board sends amended policy back to superintendent for clarification

The question of who approves curriculum and teaching resources came up last week at the Chilliwack school board meeting.

Trustee Heather Maahs brought forward a motion that would give the board the power to approve teaching resources, but her motion was quickly amended and she ended up voting against it.

Maahs’ motion put forward that the board “begin the process of the drafting of a policy, as per Policy 200:Development of Policies and Regulations, entitled Learning Resources and governing educational resource materials in support of education programs, as directed by the Ministry of Education, July 1, 2017 Order 333/99, the Educational Program Guide Order, section 5.”

Trustee Silvia Dyck pointed out that they already have a policy in place to put the superintendent at the head of decision making for curriculum. She made an amendment to Maahs’ motion that the board refer the issue back to the superintendent, Evelyn Novak. The motion asks for the superintendent to seek clarification of the roles and responsibilities of school boards in “with respect to the evaluation and selection of learning resources.”

Both motions were made as a rally for inclusion took place right outside the boardroom, with hundreds of supporters chanting and cheering in support of the learning resource SOGI 123.

“We do have procedures for selecting materials and learning resources,” said Trustee Dan Coulter. “Given what’s happened over the last few weeks, I do not relish having political fights around this board table over books. I think our educators know best the learning resources to pick and that they should do that.”

Trustee Barry Neufeld, who has recently spoken at a rally for a group that does not want to see learning materials that include language that explains non-traditional sexual orientations and families, said he thinks boards should have final approval in teaching materials.

“I think the reason that school boards were organized historically and still exist is to reflect the values of the society,” Neufeld said. “I realize we could get into some really lively discussions, but I think that’s what democracy is all about. I think the board has a right to look at new curriculum and new materials that are coming into the district.”

Neufeld and Maahs voted against Dyck’s amended motion.

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