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Friday, 14 June 2013

We Are Here and Working Hard!

I apologize for the lack of information over the last couple weeks. We are working hard in the "back room". Growth and support has been fantastic! Now for some upgrades and less interesting work to support that growth. 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: We are looking for volunteers to help with research. I am creating a portfolio of articles on the evolution of education in BC over the last 25-30 years. If you have information to share, please give me a shout! 


Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Discussion Needs to be on Professional Accountability vs Teacher Quality

We have had lots of discussion here at BC Partners in Education on Teacher Quality. And although we should always strive for excellence in our teachers, the discussion needs to shift to Professional Accountability amongst all in our education system.
_____________________________________________________________________

Professional Accountability

Partners in Education wants to ensure that each part of the education system (elected representatives, administration, systems or processes and teachers) is accountable for their role in the quality of education children receive.
Partners in education will encourage parents to use their electoral rights to hold elected representatives accountable for the decisions they make.
Partners in education wants to see transparency at the administrative level to better understand how and why decisions are made and to be able to address them on behalf of parents.
Partners in education will challenge systems or processes that don’t support transparency, parental input or the best interests of children.
Partners in education knows that we are fortunate to enjoy many fantastic teachers of the highest quality across this Province, but we also want to see professional accountability, to ensure that where standards are exceptional they are recognized and where standards slip, action is taken to remedy the problem for the benefit of the children.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

BC PIE Advocating for Excellence - For the Kids

Education advocacy for BC Partners in Education means working for a stronger provincial system.

We advocate for excellence and stability in education.  BC PIE believes that stability and excellence is paramount to healthy schools. Professionals in the education sector must show all-around superiority in their work history to effectively teach our kids.  Teachers and staff have a great amount of influence over our youth and excellence is of major importance.

An education advocate is NOT someone who advocates for costly, inefficient policies.  We DO advocate for involvement from all partner groups such as, but not limited to: Parents, teachers, admin staff, community leaders, business, government, and union. We DO advocate for fiscal responsibility so our education funds are used wisely.  We DO advocate for stability to ensure our kids have the best possible chances for success.  And we DO advocate for excellence in our professional staff and for them to be rewarded for such excellence.

Education advocacy needs to have the sole purpose of working towards improving our education system for our kids.  And that's what BC Partners in Education is here to do!

We'd love your support!
http://bluecrowd.ca/projects/bc-partners-in-education1/204


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

BC Conservative Party Member Alan Forseth on BC Partners in Education

Thank you very much for the amazing letter Alan! It's time to make some changes and we are very honoured to have your support!


Name: Alan Forseth

E-Mail: xxxxx@gmail.com

Subject: Keep up the work you are doing!

Message:

Alan Forseth
Kamloops, BC

May 29th, 2013

Hello Melanie ...

As you know I am very active politically as a member of the BC Conservative party, and so I
read and follow a number of areas of interest.
Having been through the education system in the mid-60s to mid-70s ... having my own
children go through it ... and now my grand-children ... I know and value the importance of
ensuring that current and future generations MUST be able to receive the best education
possible.
It seems the past two decades have seen an on-going civil war between government and
teachers, and I truly hope that news and more productive ways of creating a healthier
environment can be found.
Let me say, that is one reason I was pleased to see the formation of your group (Partners in
Education) as it appears your Mission statement -- and the end goal of your group -- can
possibly be one of the ways to help in bringing that about:
Mission: Develop the highest level in standards of education, through inclusion and
collaboration.
Please keep me in the loop, as I wish to stay informed on your work.

Sincerely
Alan Forseth

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

What's the Answer to a Healthy Collective Bargaining Process?

How do you feel about the collective bargaining process between teachers and governments? It's pretty clear that the current process is not working for BC. Everybody in the Province feels the impact of a poorly run education system.  Some feel it's the time process is made more public with all of us having a large stake.  

The Premier has submitted a 10 year plan for education as part of the BC Liberal response to some of the challenges. The BCTF has their own "plan" for a better system.

I'm not sure what the exact answer is, but I know we need stability.  We need better services for our special needs kids. We need curriculum choices to fit personalized interests and needs.  We need excellence in our teachers and staff.  And last but not least, we need engaged communities.

I'd like all partners in education to have more input into the policies in education that affect us all.  

We'd love your support!
http://bluecrowd.ca/projects/bc-partners-in-education1/204


Monday, 20 May 2013

Origins of BC Partners in Education

Letter from the Founder


May 20, 2013



Hello Friends,

I am a married, stay at home mom in the Lower Mainland. I have an 8yr old son with autism and a 9 year old daughter.

I first became interested in politics a few years ago after my husband introduced me to Twitter. We were in the middle of a major teacher’s strike and our children were just beginning in the public system, I wanted to be informed.

Initially, I was very judgemental of the way government was handling the negotiations. Most of the active Twitter users were education activists and gave me a skewed view of reality. After being invited by BC Education Plan staff to attend a focus group, I became aware that perhaps the situation is a little different than is being presented online. I asked a lot of questions of teachers, administrative staff, parents, community members and our government. 

I have been a BC Liberal Party member for a couple of years and am very excited about the possibility of a 10 Year Contract with the BCTF. There are many changes I’d like to see to our education system to keep it strong and moving forward. Stability is a key component. I am also hopeful the new BC Liberal team will be able to form a cooperative relationship with the BCTF. I am also hoping for a major review of public education. With a child on the autism spectrum, special needs services are a huge concern to me. 

I’d like to see some of the funding challenges tackled by creating partnerships with other Ministries and businesses in our communities. The Ministry of Children and Families, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education all need to collaborate and come up with practical ways of making sure our children are well prepared for a bright future.

It’s my desire, and that of BC Partners in Education, to help all partners in education acquire the tools they need to effectively and collaboratively solve some of our challenges in education.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting equal representation of all education partners in BCs education system. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes strong communities to maintain healthy schools.

In partnership,
Melanie Anderson
BC Partners in Education


We'd love your support!


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

School Boards Budget Crisis..

It's becoming common for education news to be reporting a new school board is struggling with a looming budget crisis.  Funding shortfalls are common place.  Unexpected costs downloaded to Boards are also a problem. And I will be the first to admit that the schools need some solutions to the lack of services affecting our kids.

I think we really need to look at budget management also. I am not confident the Ministry of Education has the oversight ability they need.   It is not uncommon for local schools who find themselves tight towards the end of the year to "borrow" from the next year's budget.  I'm trying to find out more about how this works, but obviously am having some difficulties. I've heard of a school that was operating a full year behind due to this very type of spending. Unfortunately, haven't been able to get any information on the record yet. Just talk from admin staff/teachers off the record.

When a principal starts at a new school, some are unaware of the budget issues they are walking into.  You assume that you are walking in with a clean slate.  But not always the case.

I'd like to see more information reported about these issues as we see more and more districts in the news for funding shortfalls. Is the balanced budget requirement being observed and monitored responsibly?

Parents are asked what services we'd like to cut to compensate for funding shortfalls. Give parents the full story then. Not just the story you want us to hear.

We'd love your support!
http://bluecrowd.ca/projects/bc-partners-in-education1/204


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Let Me Introduce You to Jasmine. Being Denied an Equitable Education

Please meet Jasmine. She's a wonderful little girl who is being denied an equitable education. Yes, she has some major challenges, but shouldn't we be taking care of her just as any other child in our school system?

https://www.facebook.com/SupportJasminesRightForAProperEducationInBcCanada

There are some situations where special kids can not be mainstreamed.  But this does not dissolve our government from giving her an equitable education.

When our kids are told they must stay home from school for whatever reason, that should not absolve the Ministry of Education from their responsibility to educate.  When any child is required to stay home from school, there needs to be an adequate plan in place to ensure their educational needs are being met.

Jasmine and other kids like her are being denied an education because of their challenges.  Who is going to advocate for these kids?


Update: Jasmine's parents have taken the Facebook page down for personal reasons.

Friday, 5 April 2013

What Exactly ARE Your Parental Rights in Education?

Are you interested in learning more about your parental rights in education? We are having small gatherings across the Lower Mainland talking about parental rights and community involvement in education. Topics vary based on what's going on in your district. 

Personally, I would like to see a more open work history of our teachers. A teacher can be disciplined at one school and transferred to another without parental notification. Sorry, but that's not acceptable. These teachers spend so much time and have major influence on our children, this history needs to be disclosed to parents directly. 

What topics in particular interest you? Any questions about what you can do when you have an issue with school?

If you're interested in joining a discussion, or hosting one of your own, please give us a shout. We'll be happy to help out with any materials we can.

In partnership,
Melanie

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Anybody Care About Their Education? - Special Needs Students Being Told to Stay Home

Spoke to a couple principals and a school board member regarding this issue and received some great feedback.

Kids are sent home when the school doesn't have the ability to properly take care of them or they are a major disruption to classes. This is NOT done lightly and only after consultation with the parents.  My concern would be this consultation process.  There is no set standard. I have heard of no formal District best practices either. It is up to each school to handle as they see is appropriate. I'm not sure I trust this method.  I'd like to see a set of provincial Best Practices. Parents come in a variety of forms and not all with the same social abilities as others.  This can be very problematic to fairness.

The parents I've spoken to, with 1 exception, were unaware they had any choices or input into how it's handled.  They thought they really had no choice so simply accepted what was being offered.  This is not totally the fault of the teacher or the administrative staff. Parents need to step up and ask questions. Complaining to a 3rd or 4th party isn't productive.  Parents need to be educated.

The other challenge I'm finding is the impact on families when kids need to stay home all or part of a day.  It can be a great financial hardship to arrange for this care. A parent or caregiver, who is not a teacher, is now required to pick up the slack.  I wonder if this extra cost is fair to the parents.  And more important, are these kids being denied a proper education because of a disability? That's the big question really here.  Budgets are not there to adequately educate these kids.  And families are not given extra money to help educate the kids.  So, who is advocating for their education?

Serious question here folks.. who is advocating for their education?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sorry, Your Child Can Only Come to School a Half/Day? Really?

When is it OK for schools to tell parents their kids can not attend for more than a few hours? Where can I look for answer?

I'm talking to a woman in Surrey, who says her ASD child is not allowed to spend more time because they don't have the staff. WoW! We have a face to face meeting later in the week. Also have heard from a parent whose child does not have a diagnosis, but is in elementary school and has behaviour challenges. Runs outside, throws things, etc. And that child is told they can't come for a full day.

What are parents rights to getting an education for their kids? I'm going to read through School Act guidelines and see what it says. I know some Districts may have their own rules as well.

I understand that a child can not be in class when they are a danger to others, to themselves, etc. But, what is a reasonable excuse? There seem to be no firm guidelines or formal process. I know that when a child is made to stay home, they do not get additional funding for schooling at home.  


I think this is a big deal people!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Parents Bound to Collective Agreements and Local Contracts?

Nobody has been able to answer me yet, but I'm wondering if parents are bound to the collective agreements and any local contracts.

I'm thinking about this mostly in regards to strike action. But I'm sure there are others areas where it can also be applied. Parents have not signed anything giving up their rights to anybody else.  Any negotiations regarding collective agreements, strike action and local issues that affect me have not gotten my approval.  I am not saying that all areas need to have parental approval, but certainly more parental consultations into what is eligible for strike action, etc, should be allowed.

I'd like to see more efforts made by districts and DPACs to get this type of information out to all parents.  The fact that teachers can refuse to give out report cards is ridiculous really.  The fact that a parent can have an issue with their child and be told, "Nope, bell to bell"  My union won't let me talk to you. I could get in trouble." Seriously? Definately doesn't fly with me and I know many others as well.

I am not really sure how this would look, but definately think more parental input into areas of bargaining that affect them is required.  Big time!

Is Teacher Quality Really Most Pressing Issue Facing #BCEd?

Very good blog post on Teacher Quality by @mrrcho on Twitter.  He is an excellent follow if you're on Twitter.  Very insightful, a genuine advocate for education.  Thank you for letting us repost your article!

The Misconceptions, False Assumptions, and Unasked Questions that Drive “Teacher Quality” Discussions in #BCED

I agree with the author that Teacher Quality is not the big issue it's made out to be concerning our education system.  Although there are some areas related to Teacher Quality that I feel really need to be addressed, overall, I'd say that it's not even the most pressing. The most pressing issue in BCs education system is the dysfunctional relationship between the BCTF and the government.  Hands down.

The majority of teachers in BC are top-notch and worth much more respect than they're currently getting.  I think if the issue of this dysfunctional relationship can be tackled, we'd see teachers and their noble profession getting the respect it deserves in BC.

I'd like to hear your comments.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Premier Christy Clark for BC Partners in Education - Thumbs Up

BC Partners in Education is very honoured to receive a letter of support from Premier Christy Clark.  The BC Liberal government recognizes the vital role parents play in our education system.

I am pleased to share her letter of support with you!



Teacher Has "Flirtatious" Online Relationship w/ Student - No Charges

Wow. Just Wow!  Following is an article from the Vancouver Sun regarding an ex-Olympian charged with having a "flirtatious" online relationship with a student.  So many things wrong with this story.

The boyfriend of the student reported the disgusting emails from the teacher.  The teacher then creates a private email address and CONTINUES the relationship after being confronted by his school.  Wow!

Guess what happened to the teacher? Charges were dropped!  And the student states how "gross" she feels and transfers schools.

Please read the article HERE

I want to know who is standing up for these kids?  Disgusting!


Related Article: Who is Teaching Your Kids?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Advocating for Your Special Needs or LD Child

Had a very familiar conversation with a parent of a special needs child, Jane, today.  She has a daughter with autism and spent a couple years in the public system and then transferred to a private school. It's been quite a challenge finding all of the services her daughter needs to give her the best chance for a happy, fulfilled life.

Like myself, Jane was a bit overwhelmed when her daughter went into the public school system. Your autism funding drops drastically when your child turns 6 years old.  The assumption is that the school system picks up where autism funding has been reduced.  The reality is that there just aren't the services available within the school system to meet all of these needs.

Necessary speech and occupational therapy is at a premium.  Occupational therapy is almost impossible to get at school.  So, even though doctors and therapists will give recommendations, schools are not able to comply.  So, what does a family do?  That's a good question that many parents struggle with.  What do we do? You end up making some tough choices on how to use your funding. Sometimes secondary insurance plans will provide some help and community services. You need to be a really strong advocate for your child and research programs.  This isn't easy for lots of parents to do for a variety of reasons and end up frustrated and confused.

My friend Lisa has a couple children with learning disabilities. They have had major challenges getting what they need at school. I have another friend Sue, who is told to keep her child home 1/2 day because the school isn't able to deal with all of her son's needs. Because of this, Sue is unable to work and they need extra help from the government to get by.  You may be surprised, but schools telling parents to keep their kids home is not as uncommon as you might think. I need to check and see if there are any stats on this.

How do these kids get what they need? Who is advocating for them? There has to be options and there needs to be somebody helping these families through the maze of education and community services.

Programs for special needs kids need to improve. Childcare for special needs kids needs to improve. With lack of funding in education and community service sectors, we need to build stronger relationships with businesses and our communities.

I'm not sure exactly what the answers are, but I'm looking forward to hearing what candidates propose in this upcoming election.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Who Is Teaching Your Kids?

I wanted to repost this article over here from my personal blog. I think it's very applicable to Parental Rights in BCs education system.

I highly encourage you to read it and understand what little you know about who is teaching your kids. I'm very interested in discussion on what information parents are entitled to know about their kids' teachers.  What information should be kept private?

Not so sure I'm happy with the Teacher Regulation Branch quite yet either.  The disciplinary measure is very weak in a few of these cases.  Makes me question the impartial judgement of who is overseeing disciplinary proceedings. Very happy with the progress in transparency, but clearly there is lots more work that needs to be done.

I'd like to hear your comments on  Who Is Teaching Your Kids?






Parents and Schools..Should Not Be Us vs Them

I was quite offended at a principal and trustee in BC who retweeted the following article regarding "horror parents" and said "Exactly" along with it. CNN Article Here





I was quite disappointed to see some of the comments following.  We all know some parents very clearly fit that description, but it's really unfortunate to see the proverbial "high fives" afterwards.  I was also disappointed in seeing the Vancouver Sun pick up the article without really mentioning the other part of the story.

Parental rights in education are really dismal right now.  Parents have virtually no say over who teaches their kids.  Teachers are disciplined, suspended and often just shuffled off to another school.  Parents are virtually unaware of this past history of their teachers.  Parents with special needs kids are subject to the local school and school board determining what is best for your child, with very little history or knowledge of your child.

I posted the following link that I received from @MichaelIStuart on Twitter  and the backlash was very hypocritical.  News Post Here

Our kids are so quickly used as pawns in political battles between the BCTF and whatever government happens to be in power.  Just amazing the lack of respect there.  Amazing!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Article from Sanford on Effects of Teacher Quality on Learning

Thank you to L.M. from Salmon Arm for forwarding me this document, THE NEW EDUCATION MALPRACTICE LITIGATION by Ethan Hutt & Aaron Tang.

I have finished most of it and found it quite interesting on the effects of teacher quality being paramount to a successful student.

I highly recommend you read it, but understand it could take awhile!

THE NEW EDUCATION MALPRACTICE LITIGATION




We Are Expanding..Like to Help?


The interest around Partners In Education has been developing stronger and faster than we had expected and we are now experiencing the “joy” that comes with growing pangs.  We are in need of help in seeding start-up costs of what many have called a “much needed” and “refreshing” effort to open the dialogue in BC’s education system to students and parents. Administrative costs are now presenting as a challenge to effectively and efficiently continue the great work and success we have been achieving for parents as we partner with them for the betterment of BC’s education.

We are currently looking to raise $1,000 to file the necessary paperwork for non-profit status and better set up communications efforts in reaching out to the many partners in education throughout the province.  

There are many ways you can help!

·        Financial contributions, to help seed our accruing start-up costs. 
·        Starbucks gift cards, to help with face to face meetings that occur with our partners.
·        Gas cards, to help with the growing interest in presenting regional round table meetings.
·        Financial contributions are not the only way to help. We are also looking for help with researching issues relating to parental rights and community involvement in education in BC.


 Partners In Education is excited to expand our organization and start assisting with more projects in the Lower Mainland and across the Province. We have had amazing feedback and are continuing to grow daily!  If you're interested in helping us out at this exciting point in our development, please send an email to:  Melanie@bcpartnersined.ca


If you have any stories you think we'd be interested in knowing about, please drop by our “Contact” page above.


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

All Kids Created Equal?

I spoke with a Mom from the Lower Mainland who has a child with Down's Syndrome.  Her son has communication challenges as well as behavioural challenges related to his diagnosis.  I found out that her child, who has way more struggles at school than mine, gets way less for support. And she says it's due to diagnosis.  Autism gets you the cornucopia of help from the school and government.  Kids with a different diagnosis may not be so lucky.

Her neighbor has a child with ADHD who is impacted quite severely by this and a psychiatric diagnosis as well.  She gets NO support from the government or from school in regards to his illness.  She says her principal has had to be really creative with hours and help for her son in class. She is choosing to keep him home from school next year.  But, with all of the media attention on human rights cases, she's thinking about exploring that option.

Neither of these parents are interested in challenging the system because they feel it's just too big of a task.  Too intimidating.

These stories are good examples of why I like the idea of loosening diagnosis restrictions on getting extra help for the student and teacher.






Monday, 25 February 2013

PIE Needs You!


We at Partners In Education (PIE) would love your help! We are inviting guest bloggers to submit posts here at our website. Our mission is to increase the representation of parents, students, and other private groups.

Share your views with an active community and get your voice heard. The blogging opportunity is also a terrific way to build your writing portfolio.

Posts about the importance of the community in solving educational issues are ideal. Examples of current issues in the public education system that would make excellent posts are:

* Underfunding issues
* Special needs services (or lack of)
* Suggestions for how private businesses can improve the school system
* Suggestions for how to increase the roles of parents and students in the system

Do you have a related idea? We welcome well-written posts with a word count of approximately 400 words. Please send your ideas using our PIE Contact Page or by emailing us at Melanie@bcpartnersined.ca




Thank-you,
Melanie Anderson

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Handling Parental Complaint Framework Locally

The following document shows what areas are bargained locally. I am concerned that Parental Complaints are in this list. With each district operating a fair bit differently from the other, I'm concerned this could greatly impact parental rights in the process.

I'd like to know if there are any provincial guidelines that Districts must abide by.

I'd also like to know if the process each District uses us public. This will be another item in the P.I.E. staff (me) to look into!

If you have any information about this process, I'd love you to share t with me!



Saturday, 23 February 2013

Improving Outcomes in Schools by Ryan Cho - Guest Post

The following post was pulled from our Facebook page. Excellent post and wanted to share it over here. Thank you Ryan.

You can follow Ryan Cho on Twitter here

------------------------------

Hi All,

I am a teacher in the lower mainland. I went to a pro-d session on basic neuroscience and neuroplasticity yesterday, and found out that the five pillars of brain health (and hence the foundation of cognitive ability) in order of importance are:

1. Physical fitness
2. Nutrition
3. Stress Management (and sleep)
4. Socialization
5. Diverse forms of mental stimulation

Community social services work to improve the first 4 outcomes for high needs kids before they even get to school. Schools and teachers are orders of magnitude less effective in improving the states of those first 3.5 outcomes (and most important) without resources to do so, or without strong community social services working in tandem.

If we want to improve outcomes in schools, we need to recognize the interconnectedness of school to other societal spheres, and make poverty and equity a investment for the social good. If we don't we will pay for it both in finances, and stories of human sorrow in the long term...



BC Budget Disappointing for Social Services


----------------------------

Education by Michael Stuart - Guest Blog

Follow Michael on Twitter here


Education.  It’s a small word, but a big topic in today’s landscape.  In British Columbia, it seems that education is becoming increasingly political.  Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or does it even matter?  That’s not for me to decide.  Before going any further with this little piece I’ve agreed to write for Melanie, I’d just like to take a moment to introduce myself to any readers who either don’t know me, or would like to know a little bit more about me.

My name is Michael Stuart, and I’m a second year student at the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.  Born and raised in British Columbia, I spent 13 years as a student in BC’s public education system.  Politically, I am a staunch fiscal conservative with a great desire to protect taxpayer interests while furthering the efficiency of our expenditures.  Simply put – I want your tax dollars to go as far as they possibly can.  After all, you worked hard for them, and it’s important that you get value for your money.

Like I said in the opening paragraph of this piece, education is a big issue.  It seems that we can’t get through a school year without word of a dispute between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the sitting government.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this isn’t an overly effective arrangement for students, parents, or taxpayers.  Where’s the community involvement?  Who’s out there truly advocating for kids while the BCTF advocates for two billion dollars in teacher benefit increases?  Who’s looking out for your kids while the government cuts funding to key areas in our system while ignoring teacher quality issues and inefficient spending practices?  To me, that’s where Melanie and her initiative come in.

I’ve seen numerous teachers attack Melanie for being anti-teacher because of her initiative, but the reality is that if you, as a teacher, believe that more parent and community involvement in education is a bad thing, you probably shouldn’t be teaching at all.  After all, education is a community good; it doesn’t belong to the BCTF or politicians in Victoria.  As the old saying goes – “it takes a village.”

My fight for education reform begins and ends with teacher quality.  I believe that, as a community, we have to stand up to ensure that our children (well, your children) have the best educators at the front of the classroom.  The BCTF continues to talk about class size and composition as though they are the only things affecting your kids’ learning; the reality is that neither of those things is of consequence without an effective educator standing at the front of the class.  I often find myself asking this question to those who seek me out (not naming any names) on Twitter – what’s better for a kid, an effective teacher in a class of 29 or an ineffective teacher in a class of 25?  The answer is so obvious that this question really doesn’t need to be answered.

The problem, right now, is that neither of the major parties in our education system today seems ready to fight for teacher quality.  The teachers’ federation is unwilling to admit that some of its members are better suited for careers outside of the classroom, and the government is unwilling to fight against the teachers’ federation’s well-oiled machine.  It’s a vicious circle.  That’s where community comes in.  You pay the taxes.  You’re the client.  Your children and their futures are at stake.  You, yes you, can take a stand.  Melanie’s initiative, Partners in Education, is a great avenue for folks like you and me to take that stand and fight for teacher quality.  As a former student, I know the difference that a good teacher can make in the classroom.  It’s like the difference between night and day.  So, with that said, why don’t we start talking?  Let’s start the conversation.  Let’s make sure that no child is left at a disadvantage because of an ineffective educator.

Thanks to Melanie for giving me the opportunity to write here.  I’ll continue to advocate for teacher quality, and I won’t give up until we see some change.  You can follow me on Twitter - @MichaelIStuart

Friday, 22 February 2013

Parents, Grievances, Collective Agreements.. Oh My!

I spoke to someone today and found out what could be very disturbing news.

If a guardian has a grievance with a teacher, the guardian must go to the teacher involved first, according to the collective agreement.  If the guardian goes to the principal or any other staff, the grievance can be tossed out. I'm told this is in their contract.  At first, I didn't think it was really all that bad until I realized that the grievance can be tossed out permanently and this decision can not be appealed.  Why wouldn't the principal or other staff member simply inform the parent of the proper procedure? Doesn't seem right at all.

I understand that not all BCTF locals will enforce this requirement.  However, I do know that it is not uncommon.  If true, I'm wondering if the collective agreement is legally binding on a parent. I've asked the Ministry for clarification.

Through Partners in Education, I'm learning quite a bit about the lack of rights parents really have at school.  And it's disturbing.

If you have had situations like the above, I'd like to hear about them.  You can contact me anonymously through the Contact page on our website.  You can also give me a call and I'll be happy to take the details over the phone anonymously.

I'm very interested in seeing how this story pans out..

Politics and Campaigning In Elementary Schools?

The following article from 24 Hours illustrates how politics are invading our classrooms and schools.  Adrian Dix and others have been caught distributing promotional materials in the schools.  What really bothers me about this is that the principals of the schools allow this to occur and has been occurring for quite some time now.  I applaud Patti Bacchus on her firm position that this should not happen regardless of who you are.

I'd like to know what the regulations are on the distribution of materials in school districts.  There needs to be a provincial conversation.  As we see by what's happening in Chilliwack with the distribution of Bibles, we need provincial regulations.  This can not be left up to the districts anymore.

"Promotional" Material from NDP Distributed in VSB Elementary Schools




Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fundraising Burdens on Families

I really like this article. Parents are asked to pay for so much in school nowadays. My kids' school asks that they bring in kleenex on their yearly supply list. Will they ask for toilet paper next? I wonder what happens to those kids that can not afford the lengthy and VERY costly supply lists each year? What if a PAC can not fundraise enough for uniforms or playground safety upgrades?

This is an area where I think we need to involve private enterprise. What partnerships can we create to help ease the burden on school districts and families? We need practical solutions to some very real problems. Our kids safety is being compromised. And many families are concerned about their next meal, mortgage or the astronomical school field trip fee coming up. Do they need more?

Premier Clark..I hope that you have put some big consideration into Families First when putting your budget together. Families need relief and we all need to pitch in for your kids.

CTV Article Here - Parents Footing the Bill?






LIF Fund Gets an A+

Great for SN kids! LIF Fund getting high marks. Ministry of Ed is on the right track.. But more help is needed. 

What would you like to see for services for SN kids? 

BC Government Online News