This is page numbers 1341 - 1373 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

Topics

Committee Motion 69-12(7): To Amend Clause 1 Of Bill 25, Carried
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1368

The Chair Tony Whitford

Mr. Ningark.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

June 15th, 1995

Page 1368

John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a motion on behalf of the Standing Committee on Legislation. I move that Bill 25 be amended the following after clause 4:

4.1Schools shall provide an academic year containing a minimum of 190 days.

Thank you. That's the motion, Mr. Chairman.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1368

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Ningark. The motion is being circulated and I'm just reviewing it to see if it's in order.

The motion is in order. It has been circulated. To the motion. Mr. Minister.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1368

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a bit of a problem with the amendment. I support the need to identify a standard time for students in the Northwest Territories to receive instruction in the educational program. However, you have to remember than an academic year based on days, rather than hours, would prevent some of the current, innovative practices in senior secondary education. For instance, we now have agreements with the colleges and students that students can attend college courses at night and on the weekend and receive credits for them. When the schools are being renovated, they need to be able to extend their hours or decrease them. They need that flexibility, but they also have to meet, of course, standard, set instructional hours.

We need standard hours and flexibility. Varying the length of the day even by 15 minutes substantially effects the length of the academic year. If the honourable Members would consider it, we are going to be proposing in section 126 -- which is the section expressing standards -- a motion on instructional hours which would provide a maximum for kindergarten, a minimum for grades 1 to 6 and a minimum for grades 7 to 12, which is longer than in the current act of 190 days.

We would rather do it in that section, if the honourable Members would allow us the opportunity to do so.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1368

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. To the motion. Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1368

Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Mr. Chairman, the concern I have about this minimum of 190 days is it doesn't explicitly state whether that includes the professional development days or not. It could be interpreted as possibly 185. Professional days could be interpreted as instructional days, and I would feel more comfortable if they could indicate whether this includes or does not include professional development days.

I believe now, Mr. Chairman, the requirement is 195 days which includes five professional development days. I find that clarity is of importance with respect to this clause. Thank you.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1368

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mrs. Marie-Jewell. Mr. Minister.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1369

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Mr. Chairman, it's really not my amendment, it's the amendment of the committee. Our recommendation would be that we amend section 126, with regard to the definition of hours of instruction. The honourable Member, I believe, is raising an issue of defining instructional days and that definition is not there. The flexibility of whether or not you want to increase the specific time or number of days in the year, depending on the instructional programming you want, couldn't be done by us, as a result. If we added the amendment in section 126, that could be done with the number of hours.

The other thing I raised previously is our programs are not based on days, they are based on the number of hours of instruction per subject. So, it's not easy for me to agree with this; that's all.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1369

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. To the motion, Mrs. Marie-Jewell.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1369

Jeannie Marie-Jewell Thebacha

Mr. Chairman, I think one of the problems the committee had and why they developed this motion -- and I agree with it, I just find the clarity is not there about whether it includes professional development days or not -- is that if you're looking at instructional hours, then who is going to determine how many hours there will be per school day? Whose responsibility is that, and how is a register developed to reflect that? Is it the responsibility of the CEC? Is it the responsibility of the director of education through the divisional boards? Who determines how many hours? I think they wanted some assurance that we can give comfort to parents when they send their children to school that the number of instructional days is this amount: 190 days, in addition to five professional days. So that's the purpose of this clause. I agree with the intent of the clause, but I think the idea of just indicating so many hours is not giving comfort to the parents of the Northwest Territories, in sending their children to school, because it does not determine who is going to be responsible for monitoring those hours. Thank you.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1369

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mrs. Marie-Jewell. Mr. Minister, would you be able to answer that? I do believe the amendment says "instructional days," and I think the question is whether or not the professional development days are included as instructional days. Mr. Minister.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1369

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

This, Mr. Chairman, is really not my amendment. What I've tried to do is articulate our concern with regard to the whole matter of defining the length of an academic year, based on instructional days. I'll give you one example. In the secondary school courses, there's a requirement; for instance, 25 hours per credit. You need 125 hours of instruction for a five-credit course, it's not 125 days. So you have to look at it in that context. That's an indication of the concern I had. We were trying to come back with an amendment to ensure that that occurred, and we would want to do it in 126.

The other point is that there's no guarantee that an instructional day will be four hours. So, in that sense, what we were trying to do is find a way to ensure that there were minimum hours set so that there was no confusion about it. Based on that, there was a suggestion to add more days or more hours; and we could do it very simply by addressing it through a quick amendment through the regulations. So that, Mr. Chairman, was my suggestion to the amendment that had been proposed by the committee. If we could agree to that, I would be proposing the appropriate amendment in 126, if I could get the approval of the committee. But you've introduced the motion already, and my recommendation would be not to agree to it as has been suggested.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1369

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. To the motion. I think there was equal concern that hours would not be the answer, because forms and things were set up to deal with it in days. The chair recognizes Mr. Lewis. To the motion, Mr. Lewis.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

This debate has been going on for some time now about the issue of the length of the school year, as it's sometimes called. It has lead to all kinds of invidious comparisons between countries and provinces and states, as to the quality and the standard of education that exists in those jurisdictions. Some people have tried to make the correlation between the length of the school year and the achievements of the students. Japan, for example, which has a very long school year, a higher number of days, has a very high achievement rate among its students. So the public is lead to believe that if you're in school for 230 days a year, then you're going to get a higher standard of education. I just use that as an example.

But there have been all kinds of debates in the professional educational journals taking one side or the other. This has lead to this whole debate about how you can compare jurisdictions, because the argument is made that although an institution may be in operation for so many days, when you look at the number of hours, they are actually comparable. You're mislead into believing that the days really make a difference.

I recognize that, from the very beginning, we have specified hours of instruction for different levels and so on, especially at the high school level where you're doing things for credit. But the reason the committee wanted to put something in the act which was demonstratable was it and would show the public that this system is going to have children going to school for so many days in the year -- and it's a modest number compared with the numbers that you hear reported in the professional press -- that this is very modest number of days compared to jurisdictions that require children to go to school; in many cases, for more than 200 days in a year.

So I think that since we've made a commitment to comparable standards, then I think the obligation was that we put something in there to give some assurance to the public that this system will have children going to school for a minimum number of days so that you don't get this thrown at you; that our system is substandard, it's wide open; therefore, we continue to operate a substandard, inferior education system where kids don't have to go to school the same as they do everywhere else. It's much more up in the air, much more flexible and so on. Having something definite in the act seems to be one of the ways of at least assuring the public that our students do in fact have a minimum number of days when they would be going to school to get instruction.

The general perception of the public is that over the last 30 years, for all kinds of reasons, the length of the school year has diminished. It's getting shorter and shorter and shorter. It has lead to all this debate about the quality of education, standards, comparability of systems, and you want to avoid doing that as much as you possibly can.

I'm just wondering how 190 days would translate, since the department will have had some notion that this was coming; whether they've looked at the impact of having a minimum number. Could we do a smaller number than 190? Because we've been told already that in our system under the current act, we have kind of a flexible system where already schools are only doing 170. This is what we've been told. So is there some minimum number we could put in there so at least the public will know that in our system, we do have schools in operation in a way that will give the public some confidence that we're not too much different in the way we approach at least the exposure of children to the instructional program to what exists elsewhere in the country?

To be a little bit lighthearted, Mr. Chairman, I don't believe that we've ever considered paying teachers by the hour or by the minute. They're paid to work for a year, and they're paid over 12 months, I believe. And there is some expectation that they will be on duty for so many days in the year. It's very hard to see from this act when anybody would be on duty, when any school would be in operation. So I would like to ask the Minister, through you, Mr. Chairman, because I'm out of touch -- I have to be a bit confessional here -- with the way in which we keep records now.

I know at one time, you had the school year and they would specify the particular days in which a school would be in operation; so that you would know that the legal obligation that a parent has to send their kids to that school is over that certain period of time. If it's 170 days, or longer, is there a way that that is specified in the register, so you know that the legal obligations are met by having that child go to that school on the days specified?

As I understand it, that's a legal requirement under this act. Compulsory education exists in this system and we have an obligation to do it because of all the commitments we've made to make sure that children are going to school in the important, formative years. So, for the benefit of Members, Mr. Chairman, I think it would be useful if we did get a response to the issue raised by Mrs. Marie-Jewell earlier on about how we're going to record all of this.

In each school, will there be different days in which kids have to go to school, and will that be spelled out ahead of time so that we all know that in this jurisdiction, or in a certain district, kids will be expected to be in school on certain days during the school calendar year? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Committee Motion 70-12(7): To Add A New Clause 4.1 To Bill 25
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1370

The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Mr. Minister, there's a question there about days. There was a lot of debate over the amount of time in a school year and the equivalent hours or days. If it were a fixed number of days, it would be easy to do, but if it is not a fixed number, a day could be two hours. On the other hand, if hours were being used, who would be keeping track of the hours? I think those were the issues that were confusing the situation during debate. Mr. Minister.