Principals, v-ps have their say: Schools achieve new normal devoid of interaction

Schools are typically vibrant communities. School culture has been significantly eroded this year

To the editor:

Perspectives from the principal’s office: Defending public education,

The 2011-2012 school year has been anything but normal and as we head into its last few months, I have been asked to share the perspectives of members of the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association. These illustrations, while not representative of all schools, are examples of the real challenges that many schools, students and parents have faced this year.

Schools are typically vibrant communities, with a lot of positive interactions both in classrooms and out of them. School culture has been significantly eroded this year by the continuing dispute between the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (the body which negotiates on behalf of school boards with teachers in British Columbia) and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

The routine and critically important communications between teachers and principals and vice-principals about student progress have not occurred in the normal fashion. As a consequence many students have not had their important academic issues addressed in a timely fashion or at all.

This year has seen the cancellation of some Christmas and winter holiday performances and routine student recognition assemblies.

Some meetings about students who are having difficulties have not taken place.

Meetings with teachers to discuss the direction of school initiatives and goals have not taken place.

Parents did not receive first term report cards about their child’s progress.

While some parents were able to get information about their child, many did not receive this information. Indeed, some parents reported that they made electronic contact with teachers but received no helpful response.

Students have informed us that they have missed out on numerous scholarship opportunities as many of these applications require leadership activities to be considered.

Surprisingly all of this disruption has not generated as much public response as those of us in the system would have expected. Still, principals and vice-principals often hear from parents that they are concerned about vocalizing these issues.

We have now moved into a new phase of this dispute. In many districts, the school day consists of student instruction from bell to bell but little else. If we, as adults, reflect on our student experiences, we know that instruction and formal learning opportunities are only part of the value of school. The interactions with teachers and others, through clubs, sports, fine arts activities, drama performances, field trips and special school activities make our schools special and create unique, memorable and invaluable experiences for students.

These enriching and positive opportunities will not be a part of the public education experience for many of our students.

Principals and vice-principals have had many conversations about a new normal that is being established in our schools and they have consistently expressed a belief that this is not a positive direction. If schools lose the energy, character and culture that have been their hallmark, our students will leave their public education years less well-rounded, less prepared for their working lives and less likely to champion public education when they are adults.

Principals and vice-principals do not have the answers to resolve the issues facing our schools, but we believe it is important to share the reality as we see it on a daily basis.

Our concern, as this school year moves to a close, is that nothing will be different in September and students will be forced to endure another year of disengagement from the system.

There is no sign that a resolution is at hand. If this dispute continues for another year, the negative effects will be long-term and profound.

Principals and vice-principals have worked hard this year to ensure that as many as possible of the normal school processes occur, and they will continue to do so. However, the system works much more effectively to serve the needs of students and families when all partners are able to work together to provide that support.

This latest phase in our schools will not allow principals and vice-principals to pick up the many pieces of school life that will be lost and in the end it will be the students and families of the public system who will miss out.

A respectful and workable solution must be found soon to protect the long-term viability of public education and to continue to give students the opportunities they need to thrive now and achieve in the future.

Jameel Aziz,

president,

B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’

Association

Kelowna Capital News

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

(Dave Ogilvie/Contributed)
UPDATE: West Kelowna fire crews rescue injured mountain biker

The injury took place at the top of Smith Creek Road

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read