Education report still on hold

Education Minister Patrick Rouble is avoiding debate on education reform, says the Liberal’s education critic. The $1.

Education Minister Patrick Rouble is avoiding debate on education reform, says the Liberal’s education critic.

The $1.5-million Education Reform Project committee has finalized its recommendations and completed its report.

Waiting until the legislative assembly finishes its fall sitting to release the report and avoiding open discussion on the topic is an old tactic, said Eric Fairclough.

The government followed a similar approach last spring, sitting on a controversial $80,000 school facilities study that recommended the government not proceed with a school it had promised to build in the Copper Ridge subdivision.

That report also called for a programming study to be completed before a decision on replacement or refurbishment of FH Collins was made.

“The Hold Fast report was delayed until two days after the house recessed in the spring,” said Fairclough. “It was a draft final report and then it became the final report.

“I don’t think they want too many questions on the Education Reform Project report either.

“I don’t think we need to delay this any more, it needs to be tabled.”

An Education Reform Project draft was completed in August and leaked to the media last month.

The reform project has several recommendations, including a new aboriginal high school, increased funding for teaching assistants and students and a lengthening of the school year.

At the beginning of November, the government issued a tender for a $200,000 study of programming at Whitehorse schools. The tender call closes next week.

It will take an inventory of existing programs, gather input from education staff and stakeholders and seek assistance in the drafting of a “vision” and strategic plan for secondary school education.

Commissioning a new study before the Education Reform Project report has been fully assessed by First Nations doesn’t make sense, said Fairclough.

“It’s looking at secondary programs. The reason I pointed this out is the draft Education Reform Project report talks about full involvement of their partners, the First Nations, in any review of curriculum in schools.

“So, why are they jumping ahead and doing this before they even table the reform project report?” he said.

On Tuesday, Rouble said he has not released the Education Reform Project report because that would contravene an agreement he made with Yukon First Nations.

“What I will not do is break an agreement with the Council of Yukon First Nations and unilaterally release a report, even though (Fairclough) wants me to,” Rouble said in a discussion in the legislative assembly.

“I will not break that agreement.”

The new $200,000 report was recommended and will involve all education stakeholders, said Rouble.

“It was clear from the school facilities use study (by Hold Fast) that was prepared this past spring that a recommendation was put forward that said to review the program directions of FH Collins Secondary School and prepare a vision for the future; that’s exactly what we’re doing now,” he said.

“We are looking at involving all our stakeholders and partners in education in preparing a vision of what Whitehorse high schools should look like so that we can build the best one for Yukoners and generations to come.”

Rouble’s decision not to release the report is the right thing to do, said Joe Linklater, chief of the Vuntut Gwitch’in First Nation.

When the Education Reform Project began, all the parties involved in the project agreed to certain timelines, said Linklater.

Neither he nor Liard MacMillan, of the Liard First Nation, have had a chance to “catch up” on all the information contained in the Education Reform Project report, so it won’t move forward until the First Nations are up to speed, he said.

“The minister’s not delaying, that’s not the case at all. The minister has been very good at living up to the whole concept of the partnership,” he said.

“The minister would actually like to have it released sooner than later.”

Recommendations from the reform project can still be moved forward with or without the report, said Linklater.

“It doesn’t stop anything from going forward.”