Columnist doesn’t do homework

Penticton letter-writter doesn't agree with columnist Tom Fletcher on BCTF

When my brother-in-law attended journalism school, he remarked repeatedly on the need to research and double check on sources that he used for corroborating his position or his arguments.

In order to lend a voice of authority or validation to one’s position, evidence-based research is a very valuable tool. I fail to see how Tom Fletcher exercised such journalistic rigour in his op-ed piece in the March 7 Penticton Western NewsBCTF indoctrinating our kids.”

You cite a Harvard study as proof that class size makes no difference in the learning outcomes of our students. Did you read beyond the headline, “Study: Class size doesn’t matter” in order to determine that the BCTF was force-feeding lies to our children? Or, did that simple Google exercise on your part convince you of how easily the real “truth” can be found?

Did you notice that the afore-mentioned study was of 35 American charter schools and not the B.C. public school system? Besides the fact that charter and private schools do not have the poverty issues, the high numbers of ESL students and numerous war-damaged and illiterate immigrant students, the compulsory allotment of untold numbers of unfunded special needs students, nor the unbridled discipline problems that the public school system is legally required to sustain and educate, you also missed a few other facts quoted in your “stack of scientific evidence.”

Firstly, the study that you cited identified five policies or practices which accounted for 50 per cent of learning success. (One notices that what the other 50 per cent is attributed to is not mentioned.) Of the five policies mentioned, two are, indeed, directly related to class size. One — frequent teacher feedback and two — high-dosage tutoring. A third, namely increased instructional time, is not a factor which an individual teacher or school has any power to influence.

If class size doesn’t matter, a logical extension of your argument would indicate that a school of 1,000 students could just as effectively be serviced by say five teachers? Why not two or maybe only one?

After all, it is of no consequence. The amount of frequent teacher feedback and high-dosage tutoring could hardly be affected.

Lastly, you make reference to the supportive B.C. students’ voices as being “led by budding campus radicals.” It should be the practice of a real journalist to present other views in a respectful and reasoned manner and to oppose those views with a logical, well-supported argument. This kind of comment insults the students who have come to their own conclusions based on their own experiences (which, I am sure, are closer to the related issues than your own). I recall a similar stand taken in the House of Commons recently when opponents of the present government’s initiatives were labelled as radicals and extremists in order to silence their critics. Surely, you debase and demean yourself and your readers when you stoop to such tactics.

Persuade us with fact, not unfounded mudslinging.

Brian Schroeder

Penticton