Get The Politics Back Into Education

 

The Times-Colonist editorial of July 10/16 was headlined “Get the politics out of education”.   [Understanding the point, that vote getting expedience should not be the basis for education-related decisions made in the typical BC lib process consisting of announce ,then think, if anyone notices and there is an uproar.]    On the contrary, we need more politics in education. Political decisions have led to a desperate underfunding situation in public education in BC today which has been building since 2001,  while at the same time public money subsidies and tax breaks to private schools have increased.

Political ideology drives funding or lack of funding for public goods like education, health care and “income assistance” aka welfare. All public goods are struggling in BC, as political decisions direct where money goes, for example a  $100 million “Prosperity Fund” based on non-existent LNG revenue, and a $9 billion expenditure for the Site C dam, an unneeded, environmentally destructive,  widely opposed project,  for which you and I will pay until 2086. Meanwhile, parents fundraise for years for a school playground. [Wouldn’t you think a playground would  be a Ministry of Education-funded essential item for elementary schools in BC? Nope.]

At the community level  the call for “politics out of education” results in candidates for election to School Boards at all candidates meetings making empty platform statements like “It’s all about the kids”, “My kids / grandkids went to public schools”, “My relative was influential in plant genetics”, and “I will have to hear what the community thinks”. Do you know what kind of advocacy and principles you are voting for when pre-election discourse is reduced to “no politics”? Do the candidates have any ideas at all? Do you know why they are running for a Trustee position? [Trustees in SD61 are paid around $1300 a month, 12 months a year, with automatic raises. See D.2 a) here ]

We need clear statements of conviction from School Trustee candidates, and stated expectations of what candidates expect from provincial politicians in regard to support and funding for public goods, specifically for public education.

Let’s stop trying to make School Boards into a kindergarten-style Teddy Bears’ Picnic politics-free zone. They are made up of adults with differing views, resulting in occasionally heated debate, which is healthy and representative in a democracy. But voters need to know what those views are. In a little more than a year, on October 20, 2018, voters will have a chance to make sure we get the politics front and centre in education.

Published in the Victoria Times-Colonist, June 19, 2016.

June 20/16 Board Meeting: The Record Off The Record: Dress Code, Wellness Program, Policy Updates, New Ministry Directives for Capital Plans

…let’s not forget local enviro ed champion Lenny Ross, who retired this year.

strat plan sd61

 

BC School Trustees Association website here.
BC Principals and Vice Principals Association here.
BC Association of School Business Officials here.
Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium (ERAC) here. [George J. Ambeault, former SD61 Secretary-Treasurer is Executive Director.]

The Record Off The Record is  my personal record of and  commentary on SD61 Board and  Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved  minutes are on the SD61 website, one  month after the meeting.  

Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records  January 2012 – December 2015 (January – June 2016 to be added in August 2016). Motions may be shortened but retain essential information.

P1: Meeting Schedule /  Trustee  Appointments
P2:
Board Meeting
P3: District 61 PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs
P4: BCCPAC (British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils) info

SD61 Greater Victoria School District includes  students in Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, parts of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

Meeting schedule here.

  • 1st meeting for 2016-17 school year Monday September 12 7 pm, location TBA. [Wouldn’t it be nice to know that Ed Policy and Directions meets in the same place every month (and not have to wait to find out how far across town you have to drive this month) for example, in the Board room, as the Operations Committee does, and The Board meeting? Maybe I’m all alone on that.]
  • Meeting agendas posted on SD61 website Friday before the meeting. Board meetings are now audio and video recorded, though Standing Committees are not. (Under the Board of Education menu.)

A Policy Subcommittee has been formed to review Policies,  some of which have not been reviewed for several decades, some of which are redundant, and some of which are job descriptions and not Policy.

Trustees  are assigned by the Chair as members of one of the two standing committees, Education  Policy and Directions, and Operations Policy and Planning. Agenda setting is the prerogative of the Committee Chair, with input from senior administration.

Trustees don’t “have to”  attend Standing Committee if not assigned, and some don’t, but standing committees are the best opportunity for stakeholders, public, and partner groups to make their views known to Trustees as  Standing  Committee structure operates on less formal   Rules of Order than does the Board,  ie. no need for a seconder for a motion, and a Trustee  can speak as many times as the Chair allows. The question can’t be called in a standing committee. Most substantive debate on motions takes place at the standing committees.  Standing Committees also provide for dialogue between  presenters and the Board.

Operations Policy and Planning Standing Committee:
Chair Leonard; McNally, Paynter, Watters  (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga – vote but not counted for quorum)
Education  Policy and Directions:
Chair Nohr; Ferris, Orcherton, Whiteaker (ex officio Loring-Kuhanga – vote but not counted for quorum)

For OPPs and Ed Policy,  “quorum is a majority of trustee members on the committee”.  However, the relevant Bylaw also says “All members of the Operations Policy and Planning Committee shall be ex officio members of the Education Policy Development Committee with voting rights”. So assigned Trustees are the ones who count for quorum = 3.

Policy Review Subcommittee:  (advises both Standing Committees)
March-June Leonard/Watters (term ended)    Sept-Nov  Nohr/Whiteaker
Dec-Feb 17  McNally-Paynter.   During the 2012-2015 term, Trustees who pointed out the need for Policy review were told more than once by a majority of Trustees that it would be too much work for senior administration, and that it would take place on a one-off  interim basis. That process resulted in nearly every reference to a strategic plan being deleted.

External Trustee Liaison assignments are made by  the Board ChairTrustee Assignments Sept 2016

Although Paynter advised in his January report that the French Immersion committee had never met during his term of assignment and thus advised that there was no need for a Trustee rep, Administration recommended keeping a rep to the committee as it may be more active. Junior  Achievement has not needed a rep for some time so has been eliminated as a Trustee assignment.

June 13/16: Operations Policy and Planning

I did not attend this meeting as it was the same night as the “Choices” temporary shelter community meeting at the View Royal Town Hall. BC Housing wants to add spaces to bring the shelter residents number to 80. There have been no problems expressed by Eagleview school administration, or by the school’s Parent Advisory Council Chair.

Draft minutes from the OPPS meeting are on pp 45-51 of the Board agenda for June 20.

June 6/16: Education Policy&Directions

 

The Record Off The Record

The Record Off The Record is  my personal record of and  commentary on SD61 Board and  Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved  minutes are on the SD61 website, one  month after the meeting.  Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records  January 2012 – December 2015 (January – June 2016 to be added in August 2016). Motions may be shortened but retain essential information.

P1: Meeting Schedule /  Trustee  Appointments
P2:
Board Meeting
P3: District 61 PAC (aka DPAC, VCPAC) Constitution excerpts / School Act re DPACs
P4: BCCPAC (British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils)

The Record Off The Record is  my personal record of and  commentary on SD61 Board and  Standing Committee meetings. Official, approved  minutes are on the SD61 website, one  month after the meeting.  Sticky post: Motions and Trustee Voting Records  January 2012 – December 2015. Motions may be shortened but retain essential information.

SD61 Greater Victoria School District includes  students in Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal, parts of Saanich and the Highlands, and the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.

Next Meetings
Mon June 13 7 pm OPPS (board Room)
Mon June 20 7:30 Board Meeting (Board Room) : Board elections and other business

Meeting agendas posted on SD61 website Friday before the meeting. Board meetings are now video recorded, though Standing Committees are not. (Under the Board of Education menu.)

A Policy Subcommittee has been formed to review Policies,  some of which have not been reviewed for several decades, some of which are redundant, and some of which are job descriptions and not Policy.

Some background, as the end of the school year approaches:

Robert’s Rules of Order 11th Edition provides a clear guide for everyone in debate  (maybe this should be sent to  our MLAs…): Debate on the Question p 42 / p 43: “Speakers must address their remarks to the Chair. Debate must be confined to the merits of the pending question. ..and…should avoid injecting a personal tone into debate. …they must never attack or make any allusion to the motives of members.” // p 392: “The measure, not the member, is the subject of debate.”

June 8/15 OPPS meeting, carried: McNally: That all Trustees appointed by the Chair to an external body be required to submit a written report to the Board via the Chair in December and June of each school year, as part of the Trustee Report agenda item, reports to be included as part of the Board agenda packup, beginning December 2015. / Carried. Unanimous.But was amended at the Board meeting, to require only one report.

The motion was amended at the Board table to read: McNally: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria) approve that all Trustees appointed by the Chair to an external body be required to submit a written report to the Board via the Chair once per school year, as part of the Trustee Report agenda item, reports to be included as part of the Board agenda pack-up, beginning December 2015.Carried   For: Trustees Whiteaker, Watters, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Paynter
Against: Trustee Ferris, Leonard   Abstain: Trustee Orcherton
McNally: That the Board of Education of School District No. 61 (Greater Victoria)
approve that each Trustee (one Trustee agreed upon by consensus in multi-Trustee committees) appointed to [internal] the Needs Budget Advisory Committee, District Culture and Community, District Gay/Straight Alliance [ now Gender and Sexuality Alliance] , ANED and French Immersion Advisory Committee, be required to submit a written report to the Board via the Chair in December and June of each school year, as part of the Trustee Report agenda item, reports to be included as part of the Board agenda pack-up,beginning December 2015. / Carried.  For: Trustees Whiteaker, Watters, McNally, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Paynter   Against: Trustees Ferris, Leonard, Orcherton

Nov 16 / 15 Board meeting: Watters:  That the Board conduct a review of external committee appointments by instructing:  a) trustees currently appointed to external committees to provide the Chair with recommendations and rationale regarding SD61’s continued involvement on the committee to which they are appointed, b) the Chair to send correspondence to all external committees to which the Board makes appointments and inquire if a SD61 representative continues to be valuable.
c) the Chair to send correspondence to all District municipalities and First Nations partners expressing the Board’s interest in building relationships and being involved in areas of mutual interest [deleted in Paynter’s amendment: and inquire if there are any committees upon which SD61’s presence would be valuable.] d) the Chair to make recommendations to the Board, based on the above correspondence, for any change to the list of external committees that receive appointments. / Carried as amended below.  For:
Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Nohr, Paynter, Whiteaker, Watters   Abstain: Orcherton  // Paynter: Motion to amend: End item “c” after ‘areas of mutual interest”. / Carried.   For:  Ferris, Leonard,  Loring-Kuhanga, Paynter, Whiteaker     Against, as amended: McNally, Nohr, Orcherton, Watters

Dec 14 / 15 Board: McNally: That the Board amend Bylaw 9360 General Meeting of the Board to add “Each year thereafter during the term of office, the election of Chair, Vice-Chair, and Board representatives to various agencies where the Trustees have regular representation and the appointment of Trustees to  internal and external committees shall take place at the June Board meeting” at the end of Article 2.  / Carried. Unanimous.

Trustee Assignments Feb 2016 1

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Miniature lighthouse James Bay