If I am For Myself Only, What Am I?

At Occupy Victoria, I spent some time  talking to people in the crowd about public education and school trusteeship. I eventually found myself talking to a large man who rebuffed any effort at reasonable conversation and who said after a very short exchange,  “You’re only in this for yourself. I can tell.”

I didn’t know what to say, apart from “You’re very wrong about that.”

I have a B.Ed., a very rusty 5 year French Language and Literature Diploma from Uvic, and in 1999 enrolled in the Royal Roads MBA full time two year Master’s program while working full time as a teacher in SD61. I was one of two treehuggers in the cohort and it was uphill all the way, but it demystified capitalism, economics and business for me, and that was my objective. I treasure my Naturalist Diploma from The Whale Museum.

Most of my teaching has been with children and youth who need extra support for learning. I worked with students labeled “severely and profoundly handicapped” for 10 years at Victor School with multidisciplinary specialist teams and CUPE classroom teams. (Why doesn’t anyone ever get called “severely gifted”? was a question I first heard during those years.) I’ve taught learning assistance and will never forget the evening  I was writing a Learning Assistance IEP, and discovered the targeted funding had been “rolled over into the per student amount”. I knew the writing was on the wall for actually meeting the learning needs of students with special needs, and that situations that were already challenging were about to make a giant leap in quality of challenge. I’ve been IEP case manager and written many IEPs, and worked with all school staff to do our best to implement them. Occasionally there were tears and hands shaking from frustration from me and from CUPE support workers when we could not do what we hoped to do, and could do –  if only we had the funding. For the five years before retiring from SD61 last June, I taught Reading Recovery to struggling Grade Ones, with very positive results for young lives.

Why do I want to do be a School Trustee in the Greater Victoria School District?

I’ve spent many hours at various meetings of the Board over the years. I have been and continue to be  taken aback by the lack of transparency and accountability that characterizes this Board’s process.

Teachers and CUPE education workers spend their lives in service to the public good, one young person at a time. Even in oversize classes teachers give their best to this ideal. What could be more important?  I want to support public education by being a strong advocate for this shining public asset, and want to do my best to defend it against those who would damage or destroy it.

It’s time for change.

About Diane McNally