As we are all aware, this year is a municipal election year meaning that the positions for mayor, city councillors, and school trustees are up for election. Every election year is marked by articles and interviews with candidates on their position, their platform, and their experience to campaign for the votes of the people of Kelowna. Less often heard though, are questions asked of school trustees, and I would like to see this change.
This year, as we are also all aware, brought about massive unrest in our public education system with the labor dispute between teachers and government, resulting in much time lost in the classroom for kids and teachers alike. Personally, I have spent more time in Public School Board meetings, Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council meetings than I ever thought I would, because I believe parents cannot sit idly by and watch the public education system change without input from us, the taxpayers. It is time for all of us to become aware of the intentions of this government, and how we the people can have an impact in the system.
This is where you, the media, come in. During the labour dispute most newspapers and media all presented similar information that everyone had already read and heard most everywhere. But what not many people paid attention to was the action taken, or not taken, by the school board of district 23, our elected officials. I have attended several meetings now, and hope to continue attending, and it’s been reported that not a single media representative comes to report on the goings on and decisions made. Occasionally someone will publish a letter written by Moyra Baxter, the chair of the board, but that is usually the extent.
I would really love if our media could use their power of information and influence to begin shining a stronger light on public education in our area. It’s been in the dark for too long, and only brought to the public’s attention in the last few months because teachers dared to stand up and take a stronger voice to say that things need to change. The question is how can we bring change about? How can we get the attention of the public, of parents, of grandparents, of young people, of everyone?
Here is my request of you. It is an election year, and I know that I am not alone when I stare at my ballot at the names for school trustees and say to myself “I have no idea who these folks are or whether they will do a good job or not…” I would like to see the same questions asked of all school trustees, and published in your newspaper/on your website. Call attention to school trustees this election. Send someone from your team to report on the goings on at public board meetings. I’ve included a suggested list of questions: Do you support Public Education?
Have you read the government’s Blueprint Re-Design For Education? What are your thoughts?
What actions have you taken this past year to improve education?
What committees do you serve on at SD 23?
What are some of your proudest moments serving as a school trustee?
What do you see in the future of public education?
What changes would you like to see? I thank you for your time, and look forward to hopefully reading interviews in the media from school trustee candidates.