Posted by: Alvin | October 23, 2008

UBC All Candidate's Debate

So last night the school board trustees had their first opportunity to present their platforms directly to parents as candidates gathered at UBC to talk to parents there. The event was well organized, and many concerned parents turned out. The situation at UBC is concerning. They clearly have a shortage of facilities and parents have been waiting too long, seeing their children being bused out to other schools like Lord Byng and not being assigned a class until as late as October. Now, these problems aren’t easy to solve, the Board relies on money from the province, and when that money as a percentage of GDP keeps falling year after year, things like building more schools is hard to do. At the same time though, the NPA board these past three years have failed in every respect to advocate strongly for parents and students in this city, and the parents at UBC have been especially frustrated as a result.

The lack of advocacy was pointed out time and time again by parents at the debate, who when it came down to it simply wanted to know what a new board would do. It sounds like a simple question to ask, but when you find out that the NPA hasn’t done a thing for the last three years except to call it “a great learning opportunity,” it’s clear how frustrated parents, teachers, and students only want to see a board that works with them. Nothing more, nothing less.

COPE and Vision outlined their goals clearly. More transparency in decision making, involving parents from start to finish, and advocating strongly to Victoria and involving the entire community in that advocacy were all at the top of the list. The lack of movement on seismic safety was also a point raised again and again. What did the NPA say? Only that they “learned a lot” these past three years. Specifically Heather Holden advocated for more corporate involvement in our children’s education while Carol Gibson outlined how she preferred to work “dispassionately” rather than forcefully advocate.

All in all, it was a shockingly clear example of how inept the NPA idea of public education is, and how dangerous it will be for children to continue to suffer through three more years of NPA decision making (or lack thereof!) Things need to change, and hopefully I can be a part of that.

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