As a retired teacher attending the polygamy reference hearing, I was deeply concerned when I heard evidence from several witnesses about the woeful educational standards that exist in the Bountiful community. Low to non-existent high school graduation rates, the BC curriculum ignored or taught in a perfunctory way, poorly qualified teachers, and no critical thinking skills taught (as prescribed for Grades 6 and up).
Today, Robin Trask for the BCTF castigated the government's inspectors of independent schools for allowing the situation to deteriorate to the incredibly low standard that pertains today.
Daphne Bramham in today's Vancouver Sun gives some of the flavour of the lawyer's critique:
The B.C. government got another blast Friday for its failure to deal with the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful during the closing arguments in the reference case to determine whether the current law prohibiting polygamy is valid.
Robin Trask, lawyer for the B.C. Teachers Federation, said the government has failed in its duty to ensure that the children in the polygamous community are getting a proper education. She blamed both the Independent School Act and the people who administer it.
On Thursday, Cheryl Milne of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights accused the government of six decades of “acquiescence” when it comes to Bountiful.
She said it has violated the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by failing to protect them from sexual exploitation, abuse, trafficking and by failing to provide them with the educational opportunities they are entitled to.
Several experts testified during the trial that poor educational outcomes are common in all polygamous communities worldwide. Witnesses who remain in Bountiful and who have left the community indicated gaps in what they were taught.