Discretionary hiring to recruit, retain aboriginal teachers

The Central Okanagan board of trustees agreed to do some discretionary hiring this week to specifically recruit and retain aboriginal teachers.

“It’s part of our graduation rates,” said board of education chairman Rolli Cacchioni.

“We’ve raised it to 85 per cent now, but the rate for our aboriginal students is still down around 60 per cent.”

Evidence given to the trustees to date indicates having a breadth of role models in schools is critical to students’ success.

The school district has already set aside their normal hiring practices to hire aboriginal teachers’ assistants, Cacchioni said.

Many more students self-identified as aboriginal in this year’s enrolment figures—some 600 more than last year—but only 10 teachers, one school-based administrator and one senior staff member have claimed aboriginal ancestry.

There are now 2,100 students in the system self-identifying as aboriginal.

Test scores from Ministry of Education mandated courses show that the aboriginal students not only have a much lower graduation rate, but also correspondingly lower grades while in school.

The number of aboriginal students to pass Applications of Math 10 with a C- or better, for example, was 86 per cent compared with 96 per cent for their non-aboriginal counterparts.

And the discrepancy really starts to show when one looks at aboriginal students receiving good grades.

While 94 per cent of those who self-identify may be passing English 10, compared with 98 per cent among the mainstream population, only 54 per cent are receiving grades in the C+ or higher ranger, compared with 72 per cent.

In Communications 12, it’s a similar story. Only 39 per cent received a grade of C+ or higher, compared with 62 per cent of non-aboriginal students and only 25 per cent of those identifying as aboriginal in Applications of Math 10 hit that good grade threshold, compared with 48 per cent of non-aboriginal students.

The decision to actively pursue finding aboriginal teachers will require a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal Special Program application, but follows on the heals of similar requests from school districts around the province.



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