Yukon children under the microscope

Education Minister Patrick Rouble is sitting on a report that recommends massive changes to the territory’s education system, say opposition…

Education Minister Patrick Rouble is sitting on a report that recommends massive changes to the territory’s education system, say opposition critics.

The Education Reform Project final report draft should be released before the legislature sits later this month, said Liberal education critic Eric Fairclough.

Elected members of government and the public have the right to review recommendations made in the report, he said.

The reform project has been a two-year, $1.5-million partnership between the Yukon government and the Council of Yukon First Nations.

It was designed to address the difference in academic achievement between First Nation and non-First Nation students.

“We have to encourage the government to release this report to the public because there’s a lot in it that the public should be commenting on,” said Fairclough.

“I think the minister should release the document to the public without any changes or amendments, to let them see what’s in the document.”

There is little point in holding back the report, because it has already been leaked to the media as well as opposition parties, he added.

Yukoners should get to review the report as drafted by the authors, before what’s acceptable for public consumption has been “interpreted” by Rouble, said NDP education critic Steve Cardiff.

 “I think there may be things in the report that are going to be controversial, but I think in a lot of ways that can be a good thing,” he said.

“More important than my position on what’s in the report is what the government’s position is on what’s in the report, especially on the matter of governance. I think the minister needs to be clear on that.”

The draft of the Education Reform Project’s final report was completed in August, according to a copy obtained by the News.

The 150-page report recommends scores of changes to the territory’s education system, including shared decision-making powers between the Yukon government and First Nations and the creation of an aboriginal secondary school.

The Yukon government and First Nations should establish a body to work out a shared-governance model, the report states.

An independent committee should also examine: the establishment of a First Nation high school; expansion of trades programming in secondary school; catchment areas and programs; and the demand and capacity of existing schools.

The report also recommends that more aboriginal Yukoners be trained for leadership positions in the education system, including principals and vice-principals.

It also suggests that First Nations’ representation on school councils be guaranteed to match population demographics in the Yukon.

More classroom minutes should be set aside for the instruction of First Nations curriculum, including languages, according to the report.

The Yukon government should also increase funding for early childhood education, lengthen the territory’s school year, examine the high rate of First Nation absenteeism and establish a policy on student discipline that includes out-of-school suspensions, restorative justice and mentoring by elders, according to the report.

There should also be an increased collection and sharing of information on students, the report states.

“The Yukon department of Education should collect reliable, comprehensive, long-term data about students, keyed to student ID numbers, from kindergarten to post-secondary years.

“This should include data that is already collected electronically as well as other indicators that may affect performance, including elementary report cards, departmental exams and post-secondary student grant information.”

The government is not releasing the draft report because it’s not ready yet, regardless of the fact that a copy has been leaked to the media, said Rouble in a news release Tuesday.

“A work plan, including a consultation process, was developed after lengthy discussions between CYFN and the Yukon government. We are committed to seeing that process through to completion.

“What we have before us at this stage is a draft report, which is undergoing review by a technical review committee.”

Vuntut Gwitchin leader Joe Linklater concurs.

It is not yet time for the report to be made public, he said, according to the release.

Rouble could not be reached for comment.