I am a father of two small children in the public school system in East Vancouver and know firsthand—it’s time for a change at the Vancouver school board. That’s why I’m running to be a trustee.
The desire to improve our public-school system is in my blood. My mother—my inspiration for running—was a lifelong educator and teacher who took endless night classes to better herself and her career. She ran a successful day care when my siblings and I were pre-kindergarten age, she taught remedial reading travelling to many schools, she taught a gifted class and other elementary grades, and eventually became a vice principal and principal at an urban school with a large number of new Canadians. I have had the benefit of direct parental involvement in my education and I will make it a priority to encourage parental involvement in their children’s’ education. We know that active parental involvement in their children’s’ education results in better outcomes for all involved.
I love the school system. However, it can be better. Here are some ways.
First, in some cases, there is a two-to-three-year wait list to get a psycho-educational assessment done. These assessments identify children with special learning needs and are required to obtain additional funding from the provincial government to meet the needs identified in the assessment. Therefore, while there is a two to three year waitlist, the school board is not getting the necessary funds for the children and teachers who need the extra resources. There is no excuse for this unreasonably long wait list and it needs to change. Having students with special educational needs without the proper funding is unacceptable in a city as great as Vancouver. The current Vision Vancouver-led board has had six years to resolve this issue and have not. It’s time for a change. It’s time to get things done.
Second, Vancouverites tell me they don’t want ideology in their municipal politics and certainly not at the school board affecting children’s education. It is time to have a clear and open policy on grants and other charitable gifting to the Vancouver school board. The Vancouver school board turned down significant corporate grants based in ideological grounds. Those same grants were offered to and accepted by the cities of Burnaby, Surrey, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Coquitlam. Why are Vancouver students being singled out for ideological purposes? In addition, the decision making process for the acceptance of grants is neither clear nor open.
Third, there’s a crisis about the availability of day care spaces, even as there are excess spaces available at Vancouver elementary schools including neighbourhood annexes. Instead of talking about closing up schools due to declining enrollment, why isn’t the excess space being used for compatible educational needs of day care for pre-kindergarten children? The revenue generated from the rental of facilities can be used to fund additional programs for the students in Vancouver.
Finally, as a lawyer with a background in construction law, I understand the need and challenges with any seismic upgrade program. It is clear that a new dialogue needs to be conducted with the provincial government to ensure that the necessary seismic upgrades get done as quickly as possible.
It is time for change at our public schools. Our children deserve it.