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Superintendent's Report - October, 2009
Published by Karen Delaney [Karen Delaney] on 10/27/2009 (1608 reads)
Superintendent's Report - October, 2009

Fair and adequate funding helps to ensure success for every student in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Last month, I called for the assistance of all stakeholders in the educational communities. I directed my public request to the: Nova Scotia School Boards Association, Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union, Home & School Federation of Nova Scotia, Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators, local School Advisory Councils and the regional school board. These partners, along with all communities around the Province, have an obligation to lobby for change, awareness and support for a better deal in the years ahead. Our focus on the impact of educational cuts was explained to you in my September monthly report. Again, one has to begin creating strategies that will prevent further erosion of public education funding.

Impact on regional boards in respect to inadequate funding has to find its way to the Department of Education. We have felt the impact here in Cape Breton-Victoria and the aggregate impact of all regional boards has to be conveyed to the Government of Nova Scotia.

Investing in quality education is one of the best investments we can make as a society. This was the battle cry of the partnership in education over the last three years. Apparently, it has fallen on deaf ears. When you are faced with higher class sizes, reduced program initiative funding, 50% reduction in instruction resources and fewer support staff, one must conclude that our excellent school system is at risk. We have to responsibly speak out about the impact on learning conditions for students.

Reduced student enrollment has always been used to justify reduced funding. This is a false concept which is better substituted with the idea that now is the time to enrich and expand the opportunities for students who remain in our trust. The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is grappling with untenable budget decisions that affect staffing and ultimately the students in the classrooms.

The analysis of educational funding calls for adequate funding. The voice of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association captured this cause by asking for fair funding for education with an additional amount of money to be used as a catch up reserve for enriching the lives of our students.

One of the key strengths of high quality education is the emphasis on local decision making. The local school board is the body closest to the community and reflects the community’s commitment to its schools. It must have adequate funding to fulfill its responsibilities.

A visit to Cabot High as well as North Highlands & Cape Smokey Elementary schools by myself; Ambrose White, (Director of Operational Services) and Jackie Organ (Board Member) produced a request from one of the students to reflect on the importance of homework. It was my promise to a student at Cabot that generated these following words on homework.

Homework - Too Much Too Little

There are at least two views on the subject of homework. Parents are never sure that there is enough of it. Students feel that even a little is too much. Schools generally attempt a compromise on these two stands. In many schools, the amount and type of homework is left to the discretion of the individual teacher.

Parents often presume that students don=t have enough time at school to complete all of their assignments. Homework helps parents keep in touch with what their children are learning in school. Yet, due to the diversity or complexity of the subjects their children may be studying, parents may sometimes feel intimidated by homework when it does arrive at home. The resolution of this quandary lies in making homework a topic for parent-teacher-administration discussion.

The purpose of homework should be to practice previously taught material, not to introduce new material. Teachers’ management of time in the classroom can eliminate much homework by providing students an opportunity to do this practice and application in school, where teachers and materials are readily available. Secondly, homework allows students to become independent. Teachers with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board have taken the time to engage students in the importance of homework. Students are encouraged to learn to organize their time, work independently and more efficiently. These study habits should remain with the student throughout high school and into post-secondary institutions.

Some students need more practice in particular skills. Some assignments or projects require longer preparation, which result in homework. However, if students seem exceedingly burdened – or never have any kind of homework, parents have reason to be sceptical. If homework is used as punishment or appears consistently to be the same for every student (two things educators frown upon), parents ought to find out why.

Some teachers and parents will still confuse quality with quantity. It is possible to over practice or to be bogged down in trivial, Abusy work@ assignments. We can all recall having such assignments when we were students.

It should be remembered that school is hard work. A student who tackles two or three hours of homework every night is consistently putting in eight-hour days. Here are some ways to help your children:

  • Provide a place for children to read and study;
  • Limit the television or its sound level at least;
  • Be a facilitator in their learning schedule time. Say, for instance – “Do you want to study before dinner and then a suggested activity for 7:30”;
  • Encourage them to work for an interval, take a break, and then go back to it;
  • Ask about their assignments - discussion reinforces learning;
  • Schedule trips to the public library;
  • Encourage their independent reading; and,
  • Set an example by continuing to study and learn yourself.

Homework: It is not an proposition. Somewhere there is a happy medium and parents have an obligation to be partners in deciding with teachers where that point rests. One thing is for sure: Homework has not yet gone out of style.

At a time when schools are pressured to improve, homework should not be allowed to persist as a relic of the past. There must be a deliberate, thoughtful decision about the purposes of homework and school sites must ensure those purposes are fulfilled in a way that best serves the educational needs of students.

Remember, there are generally four types of homework: preparation, practice, extension and creativity:

  1. Preparation: Helps students to inform themselves about the next day=s lesson;
  2. Practice: Provides the students with the needed review and reinforcement about materials presented in a previous lesson;
  3. Extension: Guides students so they expand on concepts that were taught in class; and,
  4. Creativity: Includes analysis, synthesis and evaluation. This type of homework is innovative and resourceful. Students come up with their own ideas related to a class topic and share that with the class.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to direct your attention, and that of the board members and staff, to read the comments from our school principals that are forwarded to you as Board Chair and are placed on our Board’s Website ( These items represent the awards, achievements and successes of our students and staff within the boundaries of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Again, I ask the Principals to ensure that the Board Chair is kept abreast of these important communications.

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