June 13 LETTER: Questions of value and consent raised.

What did school district really get for their money?

Editor, The Times:

I read in the May 23, 2013 issue of the Boundary Creek Times an article called “Schools get health update” that made my blood boil and if you have a child in school, so should yours.

While School District 51’s treasurer Jeanette Hanlon’s proposed and rejected budget included, reductions to teaching staff and their support people, along with the district’s “unrestricted surplus”, the article continues on to announce SD51’s approved of $7,000 to participate in the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). Something they failed to mention is that it’s a $2,000 increase from last year’s participation cost.

What did they really get for their money last year? With approximately 60 school districts throughout B.C. invited to pay to participate, the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) stands to make large from the privilege of collecting intrusive information without active consent, while our kids are the first to feel the suggested budget cuts.

Director of Instruction Maxine Ruzicka says, “This is an authentic way of getting the voice of students…”; however, the teaching and support staff positions are the voices of the students in many cases. Their first responders so to speak. Where’s the wisdom behind cutting support positions for people over surveys?

Superintendent Michael Strukoff says, “We are finding out a lot of them are not getting adequate sleep.” Well, did they really need to spend $7,000 to find that out? How much research does it take to figure out that if you put a kid on a bus at the crack of dawn to be transported miles from home because their school has been closed is going to be tired.

Nothing but a waste of school district money.

In February the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association wrote to HELP, UBC’s Research Ethics Office and SD51 on my behalf about the unethical use of passive consent in obtaining the MDI surveys and requested they revise their participation protocol. I sent a copy of that letter to the Boundary Creek Times in February along with numerous other media outlets.

This isn’t the first time. In February 2011, Helen Ward, president of Kids First Parent Association of Canada, contacted the Civil Liberties Association also to request help with making a ethics complaint.

If you have concerns about this intrusive information collection please call me for more information at 250 446-2156 or email erikatafel@live.ca

Erika Tafel, Rock Creek