Teaching the Vancouver Olympics

B.C. has spent $500,000 to create an Olympics education program

Teaching the Vancouver OlympicsShould B.C. kids be learning about the Winter Olympics in school? The provincial government says yes, but teachers are fuming.

The government has spent more than $500,000 over the past three years to create an Olympics education program-, which includes a website and DVD with curriculum recommendations for teachers, incentives for schools to ensure children stay active, and webcasts about student issues such as diversity, disability, and inclusion.

But teachers are wondering where that money came from—the effort was launched just after the government cut $130,000 from sports programs and $110 million in facility grants, which are used for the physical upkeep of schools. “We should be channelling money into school classrooms,” says Susan Lambert, vice-president of the B.C. Teachers Federation, “not wasting it on useless public relations exercises.” And besides, she claims, a free Olympics education program already exists: “Teachers will naturally use the opportunity of the Olympics to design lessons.”

B.C. Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the project is worth its cost for the resources it provides to teachers. Furthermore, she claims that cuts had to be made regardless: “This year we were really under very serious budgetary challenges and we thought that this was the most reasonable choice to make.” MacDiarmid also points out that government spending on schools is at its highest level ever.

But Lambert takes issue with that line as well. “The new budget has frozen operating budgets at the same time as increased costs have been downloaded onto schoolboards.” The Olympics education program, she says, is just “rubbing salt in the wounds.”