Vancouver School Board cuts honours programs, cites 'inequality’ among students

In a move to create more equality between students, the Vancouver School Board is cutting its honours programs for secondary school students.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

In a move to create more equality between students, the Vancouver School Board is cutting its honours programs for secondary school students, CBC reports.

Effective this upcoming fall, both honours math and science will be cut from schools, joining the already discontinued honours English program.

The last two schools in Vancouver to offer the math and science programs are Eric Hamber secondary and Magee secondary. Conversations surrounding the cancellation of honours programs began more than five years ago, according to the CBC.

A Vancouver School Board spokesperson told CBC News that the honours courses were creating inequalities for students.

"By phasing out these courses, all students will have access to an inclusive model of education, and all students will be able to participate in the curriculum fulsomely," the emailed statement to CBC News reads.

Students at these schools voiced their disappointment at the decision, with many saying that the programs finally got them engaged in learning.

"I actually flourished, I actually took pride in what I was doing and learned something," said Stephen Kosar, a Grade 10 student at Eric Hamber secondary. He said that before enrolling in the school’s honours program, he was unengaged from his studies.

Kosar’s mother, Lina Jung-Kosar, also took the honours program when attending the same school. She told CBC News that she wouldn’t be where she was today without having that option.

"I know other families may have the advantage to be able to provide extra-curricular or extra tutoring to students to help them achieve their full potential, but my socio-economic background when I was growing up didn't allow me to do that," she said.

Marc Rudolph, the father of a science and math honours program student at Eric Hamber, said that her oldest daughter was engaged and challenged in the courses, something she wouldn’t have found if she went enrolled.

"I'm pretty annoyed that other people are not going to get the benefit of these programs, which are really valuable to kids that are into science and technology," said Rudolph.

Rudolph argued that taking away these programs would not result in the equality educators were looking for, and that its inequitable not to offer the opportunity, according to CBC News.

"Some kids are good at math and science and enjoy it and some kids aren't. I don't know why the intention is to say everybody must be lumped in together in one in one big group. It doesn't really serve any purpose for anybody, really," he said.

The Vancouver School Board stated that mini school would still be an option, as well as advance placement courses for students looking to be challenged.

They added that the honours courses, "do not provide enrichment" because they are merely accelerated courses, and do not have a "unique and defined curriculum compared to regular coursework," according to the CBC.

The school board also stated that the honours program was not tied to honours standing with grades, which is awarded to students who obtained a GPA higher than 3.0 in their best 76 credits.

The Vancouver School Board stated that "Teachers support the diverse needs of all students in their classes through differentiated instruction — and this includes enrichment."

President of the Vancouver Secondary Teacher’s Association Treena Goolieff said that while streaming, or the grouping of students into smaller classes for most of their lessons, wasn’t something that they supported, sometimes opportunities are best served in those cases.

"The idea of streaming as a general principle isn't something that we support," Goolieff said to On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

"At the same time, providing a really comprehensive opportunity to all kids sometimes is best served in a classroom where there is just a select group of kids that are able to handle the intensity of the curriculum or the pace."


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