Hello fellow public education friends, families, and advocates! The Parent Advocacy Network has been busy and we’d like to update you on some of the public education advocacy projects we’ve been working on: (pan_fall_2018_newsletter_v2.pdfdownload pdf)
On March 5, PAN sent the Minister of Education a researched letter of petition signed by 73 parent and community advocacy groups, university art educators, and art professionals calling attention to the dramatic decline in access to K-12 arts education across BC, and underscoring its vital importance for students in both academic development and social/emotional well-being. We hope that our collective voice will communicate the urgency of this issue and create the will and context for purposeful action.
On September 22, PAN participated in the First Call Education Forum. Our presentation (The Art of Inclusive Learning: Public Education as Critical Care?) highlighted the need for specialist art education as a critical tool for building empathetic, flexible, creative, and adaptable learners and to deal with inequity and access in our schools. It also deconstructed the label of "special needs" students and made the case that today's classrooms have diverse, complex learning community members who all benefit from the principles of inclusion and universal design for learning.
On October 11, PAN presented to the legislative committee collecting public input for Budget 2019. To see our eight recommendations, click here. Our full written submission is here.
On October 15, PAN sent this brief to the Minister of Education, calling for an Area Standards Review. Did you know that BC has the lowest school-space allocation per student compared to other provinces? This means replacement schools are approximately 30% smaller than the original school. It also means that spaces for critical curriculum learning in art, music, sensory rooms and more are being erased. If your school will be seismically mitigated you need to know more!
For more news, visit http://www.panvancouver.ca/news.
As part of PAN’s commitment to supporting aligned non-partisan progressive organizations, we are a member of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. The Coalition’s ABC Plan calls, for an accountable, bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan in BC. Click on the link for an easy tool to write to your MLA or engage in simple actions to promote equity and save lives. Poverty reduction is deeply connected to public education, and when we advocate for both, our partnerships make us stronger.
One of the starkest issues in public education advocacy continues to be the inequity and lack of access for complex learners and special needs students. If you haven’t already found BCEDACCESS, their site is rich with resources, tools, and advocacy strategies that help parents, guardians, citizens, self advocates, and allies navigate through the complexities of the public education system. In their Forced Out report, parents surveyed confirmed that families with special needs students are often forced to remove their children from school due to chronic systemic underfunding and understaffing issues that put their children at risk. If you have had or continue to experience exclusion this year, please complete and share this Tracking Exclusion Tool.
KEEP IN TOUCH
As always, PAN welcomes new members. If you would like to hear more about what is happening on your public education landscape, please stay tuned for our next general meeting in Winter/ Spring 2019.
Please also visit our website http://www.panvancouver.ca to stay current with our latest efforts, sign up to our newsletter, or let us know what public education issues are keeping you up at night.
Helpful documents can be found here. More may be added in the near future.
VSB2021 Strategic Plan and Public Consultations
As you are aware, the VSB is seeking feedback from parents, staff and students on the creation of a new Strategic Plan (this is different to the Long Range Facilities Plan and the input being sought for that).
Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, its important we as parents provide input and have our voices heard! The strategic plan will have real implications for funding decisions around programming, staffing and resource distribution across the district.
This is a great opportunity for parents/guardians, teachers, stakeholders - everyone - to give their feedback! We need to capitalize on this chance and encourage everyone in our networks to fill in the survey, candidly and thoughtfully.
What is the Strategic Plan?
The Strategic Plan is a blueprint that sets the educational priorities of the Board for the next five years. To review the last Strategic Plan (2011-2016) go to http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/publication-files/VSB_StrategicPlanandgoalsJan302012.pdf
The Strategic Plan is based on the following questions:
How should I get involved?
1. Fill in the survey - http://fluidsurveys.com/s/VSB2021/ - Deadline is Feb 21
The VSB has released a 3 question survey for parents/guardians to complete and allows for open comments - http://fluidsurveys.com/s/VSB2021/
The deadline for the online survey is Feb 21 and it is important that as many parents as possible participate.
The strategic plan will have real implications for funding decisions around programming, staffing and resource distribution across the district.
2. Attend the Ideas Fair on Thurs Feb 18 at Prince of Wales Secondary, from 4-7pm
This will be an open public forum, drop-in style.
3. Attend the Open House on Thur Apr 21 at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary, from 4-7pm
This will be an open public forum, drop-in style.
Issues to consider that relate to our PAN mandate for high quality, accessible and equitable public education for all children are noted below - these may assist you in answering the survey.
-Choice schools are not accessible to all and can undermine diversity in neighbourhood schools. Neighbourhood schools are the key to community strength. The Board should prioritize and advocate for their preservation. Surplus capacity should be addressed through rightsizing and/or partially repurposing spaces.
-All schools should provide ongoing supported curricular elementary education in Visual Arts, Music and drama, and have access to a library staffed by a teacher librarian.
-Resources (learning materials, musical instruments, sports and science equipment) must be equal across schools, not dependent on the fundraising ability of individual PACs and communities.
-Expand food programs to children at risk and continue to advocate with the ministry for more poverty reduction funding.
-Children with special needs should be provided with intervention programs, workers and teachers trained to build the specific skills and independence they require to succeed and integrate.
-The new curriculum’s emphasis on personalized and hands on learning, collaboration, creative problem solving and technology must be supported with funding for sufficient training, staffing, and appropriate spatial requirements necessary for its implementation.
-The advancement of technology in schools must be balanced by careful consideration of child health, child privacy and the cost of equipment/infrastructure. It should not come at the expense of relational building between teachers and between students.
-All schools and not just new schools with Neighbourhood Learning Centres should have adequate space for arts, recreation and services that would serve the unique needs of each community
How can I get information updates going forward?
PAN will continue to send updates via email and through our website, but you can also sign up for VSB email updates - http://eepurl.com/bOeJV9 or follow them on Twitter @VSB2021
They have also posted an informative animation video: https://youtu.be/p1tWow4vKUQ
PAN updates and news, partner events, and other timely information relating to public school advocacy in and around Vancouver, BC.