Jane Bouey: Count on COPE school trustees to defend public education in Vancouver
When my son began school, he faced serious learning challenges. Teachers, extraordinary champions for my son, shared tears with me as they explained that if he had just started a few years earlier he would have received the support he needed. When I successfully advocated for such supports, I soon realized these scarce resources would be taken from another child. I began to see the big picture.
Gradually I understood that thousands of students—those living in poverty; students for whom English was an additional language; aboriginal students; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students—all faced barriers to having their unique learning needs met.
I joined others in the community advocating for full funding of public education. We were angered by NPA school boards who were reluctant to stand up for our students. Those boards looked to corporate funding, fundraising, and fees to make up the shortfall. But we saw we could count on COPE to defend public education.
Working people—over time, and around the world—have struggled for free, democratically controlled, quality public schools. One of the fathers of public education in Canada, Egerton Ryerson stated in 1847: “Education is as necessary as light. It should be as common as water and as free as the air.” Inclusive, relevant, and engaging public schools teach critical thinking and even have the power to liberate.
This election is taking place with the backdrop of the teachers’ job action, provoked by a premier trying to relive her “glory years”. As minister of education, she presided over massive funding cuts. Students who face barriers to learning were hurt the most. Parents fled the public system. Teachers’ collective agreements were stripped. COPE and Vision trustees have done our best to keep the cuts out of the classrooms, but public education has yet to recover from Christy Clark’s shock treatment.
This is a “make-it or break-it” moment in B.C. We cannot afford a Vancouver school board made up of Liberal yes men.
I am proud to currently serve as vice chair of the school board. Vision and COPE have worked well together—disagreeing sometimes, but always keeping our eyes on the big picture. We have been vocal and visible advocates for public education. Together we have helped force the province to come up with a bit more money for education and seismic upgrades. Together we have worked with the aboriginal community to move ahead with bold new ideas.
With COPE at the table, we have continued the groundbreaking LGBTQ work begun under the COPE board from 2002 to 2005. We have spoken out against child poverty and stopped the closure of five East Side schools.
Whether part of a majority, or in opposition, and no matter who is in power provincially, I will continue to fight for well resourced schools so that every student can learn to the best of their ability. You can count on COPE trustees to stand up for public education—just like we have for 40 years.
Jane Bouey has defended and fought for improved public education since moving to Vancouver and joining COPE in 1993. She has served on COPE’s executive, and its education committee. Bouey was elected as a school trustee in 2002, and again in 2008. She currently is vice chair of the Vancouver school board, and chairs its education and student services committee. Devoted to ensuring schools are more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible for all students, Bouey has played a leadership role in Vancouver and across the country in developing LGBTQ education policy. Bouey works with her fellow COPE trustees to overcome systemic barriers such as poverty and racism. She is proud of the collaborative record of the current Vision-COPE board. She is comanager of People’s Co-op Bookstore.