Allan Wong: Advocacy only works when we do our homework

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      I believe in a strong public education system. It is about ensuring an environment and support for all Vancouver students to succeed. In the last two decades, I have advocated continually, diligently, and objectively for a strong, properly funded public education system.  

      To me, objectively is a very important word. It is crucial to ensure that the board (and therefore the public) receives accurate information concerning district education before decisions are made. 

      Armed with objective reports, the board can now effectively advocate and lobby the province for funding for seismic upgrades. These reports lay a crucial, fiscally responsive business case for a seismic upgrade program that will keep our kids safe in our neighbourhood schools.

      As chair of the board's planning and facilities committee, I successfully brought together community groups, the provincial government, and the VSB in initiating the seismic mitigation program to have all our schools seismically upgraded. I would like to continue to see this on a strong path to conclusion. To me, it is not only about student safety—which should always be our first priority—it is about fiscal responsibility to ensure all our aging facilities are maintained properly.  

      Moreover, with district and provincial reports we can bring stakeholders to advocate to the province to be fiscally prudent to upgrade deferred maintenance while seismically upgrading our at-risk schools.  This is an issue upon which I received unanimous support from the British Columbia School Trustees Association as well. Advocacy and relationship-building works well when one does their homework, and I’m excited by the possibilities presented by a new provincial government, which seems willing to work with Vancouver to ensure our students can succeed.

      Vision Vancouver has released our 10-point plan for education on our website, and it includes issues that are important to parents, teachers, and the community.

      We must ensure and properly manage the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling regarding class size and composition contract in Vancouver—and how this impacts enrolling and nonenrolling students, and support programs such as special needs and ESL. I look forward to building a positive, planned, and consultative education environment.

      Your Vision Vancouver education team is committed to bringing in an ambitious capital plan to have all schools seismically upgraded by 2025.

      There’s a real danger of electing an NPA board. We can’t afford to go backward to the NPA board of 2005–08, where not a single seismic upgrade was approved. We know their track record, and voters should, too.

      I was part of the team that developed the Long Range Facilities Plan to ensure our schools are fixed in a timely manner.

      Your Vision Vancouver candidates have a strong track record of supporting all our students—in fact, it’s why I chose to join the team in 2013 after being elected for 14 years. I'm proud to have been part of the board that passed policy that protects students: our district’s anti-racism policy, anti-homophobia policies, and recent updates to include transgender community.

      Let’s not turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made together. On October 14, I hope you’ll consider voting for me and my Vision Vancouver colleagues.

      Allan Wong is a father of four and former teacher in Vancouver schools. He was first elected in 1999, and is running for re-election with the Vision Vancouver Education team.