When I tell people I am running to be a Vancouver school board trustee, I often get mixed reactions. From those who don’t have children—or whose children are grown—the reaction is often some variation of: “I don’t vote for school board. I just leave that blank on the ballot.”
When I ask why, the response is: “It doesn’t have anything to do with me. It doesn’t impact my life.” These interactions and attitudes are why I’ve made it my mission to show people why the school board does indeed matter to all of us.
On a practical level, we all pay for public education, either through our city taxes, or through taxes to the provincial government. The Vancouver school board—the second largest in British Columbia—has a budget of over $500 million. That is $500 million of our money. One would hope that we would, at the very least, take care that there is prudent oversight to managing that money.
An elected school trustee’s role is to ensure that these funds are allocated responsibly in a transparent fashion. Part of that involves consulting and communicating with the public. The B.C. School Trustees Association states “the Board has the dual responsibility for implementing the law, as it applies to public education, and for realizing the community’s desires for educating its youth”.
On a more global note, public education is a fundamental human right. A strong public school system is critical to preserving the ideals of a democratic society. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prescribes that every student—including those with special needs—have the right to a quality education and to attain the highest level possible.
We were all children once. Many of us have memories of our school days that shaped the people we have become. Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow. It’s our civic duty to participate and make sure every child and young adult has access to the quality public education they deserve.
For my part, I am participating by running for Vancouver school board trustee with the Non-Partisan Association. I will listen to the community. I will work hard for all of you, drawing on my background as a former teacher and current consultant in communications and fundraising, as well as my considerable volunteer board experience.
For your part, I urge you to educate yourself on the different candidates for school board, and vote on November 15 (or at the advance polls November 4 to 12). If you are looking for an open, transparent government that listens and takes what you want into account, I hope you will vote for our mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe and the NPA team. And I hope you will vote for me—Penny Noble—for Vancouver school board.