Education Committee (Oct 3)

This Tuesday’s Education Committee meeting continues our visits to district schools and program sites and includes a presentation from Qayqayt Elementary school on Cross Curricular Learning.

As well the Board will continue and perhaps conclude our work on Mission, Vision and Values statements.

We have adopted the Mission and Vision statements:

Mission Statement “To enable each student to learn in a safe, engaging and inclusive environment.”

Vision Statement “A place where students love to learn.”

and we need to continue and perhaps conclude with our Value Statements.

Superintendent Pat Duncan has said

“Values clarify our collective commitments – How must we behave to create the School District that is reflected in our Mission & Vision. For every value we identify, it should be possible to point to many examples from all corners of the School District of that value in action.”

We had the potential Values up on our website all summer and will be sharing that feedback on Tuesday.

The list of potential values has been reduced by the Board to:

  • Inclusion
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Equity
  • Respect
  • Empathy

For me the number one Value both for our district and for education generally is the need for real collaboration, between all of those engaged in helping to education our children. Real collaboration should not impede decision making, it should aid in making those decisions not only the most relevant but the most thoughtful. I have found that all too often decisions are made in education without talking to those that have to deliver the services to the children. This has been particularly evident at the Provincial level where for many years Ministers of Education have made decisions in Victoria, often times, without even asking if it is possible to accomplish their decision. Whether it be Daily Physical Education, Student Information Systems, haphazard Curriculum Implementation or at various Districts buying computers, iPads or other technology for schools and staff (without asking either are they needed or what we would like) all too often decisions are made away from the people who have to implement those decisions. For decades the New Westminster School District has been an incredibly collaborative district.

For me the second Value both for our district and for education generally is the need for real accountability.  Accountability that includes giving both the decision makers and the public real and full information to ask questions and base decisions. I believe that such accountability comes from a Duty to Inform and a Duty to Document (this item is coming forward to the October 10 Operations Committe meeting), so that everyone, at either a District, Provincial or Federal level have all of the information to make real and informed decisions. Whether it is making Provincial decisions on Site C, ICBC or BC Hydro, or making local School Board decisions on why Schools are at where they are in the development or redevelopment queue or why Budget allocations are being made in a certain area, we need to have real and timely information to make those decisions and engage in those discussions , both at the Board table and, more importantly, in the public. We need to constantly remind ourselves at all levels of government that the decisions we make and the money we spend are not ours, but belongs to the community and public.  The public needs to have information before decisions are made to help inform them of what might happen, of what options are considered and allow them time to influence those decisions. We who are elected to public office can never lose sight of the public’s right to know since we serve on their behalf, in their name, spending their money.

Author: Michael Ewen

Husband, Parent, Grandparent, Dog Owner, Public School Teacher, Public School Trustee

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