Teachers union asking why new distance learning Crown corporation is being rushed

The provincial government announced their intention to set up a crown corporation for Distance Learning, which leaves the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) asking…. why?

The STF said the government is “proceeding blindly without meaningful consultation”, according to a media release, and that the aggressive timeline suggests a lack of awareness of the current state of public education in Saskatchewan.

The Government of Saskatchewan announced that Wednesday that they have established a new treasury board crown corporation to oversee centralized online education in the province through a planned acquisition of Sun West School Division’s Distance Learning Centre (DLC).

That centre will be the hub of online education in the province.

“The DLC is a well-established operation with skilled staff, robust technology, and a wealth of courses to provide a ready-made foundation for the centralized model,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a media release.

But it’s a large and complicated project that’s being rushed, the teachers say.

A month ago, the STF said they and their sector partners raised concerns about the process and asked for a chance to provide input on some of the issues. They said they and their partners still haven’t received a response.

“I don’t understand why the Minister is disregarding our advice on such an extremely complicated and important issue,” STF President Samantha Becotte said in a media release. “What’s the rush? And further, why is he hiring an out-of-province consultant with a passion for privatization rather than working with the education partners here who know our Saskatchewan communities?”

Another concern they have is that the Distance Learning Crown Corporation would be directing funds away from local supports.

“The government’s track record is poor when comes to introducing centralized IT systems,” Becotte said. “Look no further than the losses experienced with the SHA and eHealth.”

The main office for the provincial online school will be in Kenaston, with satellite locations created across the province. Student registration is also anticipated to open in the coming months, the government release said.

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