Parents want more say in school policy 0
Some parents are growing tired of trustees, teachers and administrators talking for them. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
24 hours is pleased to announce a five-part series showcasing Lower Mainland parents' back-to-school concerns. See it in the paper each Tuesday for the next five weeks.
Some Lower Mainland parents are calling for a stronger voice in education after feeling left out of last year's teacher labour dispute - when they felt spoken for without having being consulted.
That feeling is, for the most part, constant among the heads of District Parent Advisory Committees who spoke with 24 hours just head of the new school year.
"I'm talking about report cards and parents-teachers interviews being made available," said Surrey DPAC co-president Bob Holmes. "Last year, they couldn't do that after hours (due to job action). It really got quite ridiculous."
Vancouver committee chair Colin Redfern said he's tired of rhetoric from trustees, teachers and administrators "talking more and more for parents" without any consultation.
"'We're here for B.C. families,' that type of thing. Our largest concern is getting parents more of a say closer to the policy table," he said.
Other traditional issues such as overcrowding, extra fees, school maintenance, traffic safety and language challenges are still major concerns among parents.
In New Westminster, parents fear they haven't heard the last of job action despite a new teachers' contract signed this summer.
"We're hearing, although a contract was mediated, a number of teachers are still discussing potential job action," said Rob Peregoodoff, New Westminster DPAC chair.
"We may not be back to full business as normal."
Some are even calling for a change in provincial and union leadership, feeling that the current heads are too combative. In an unrelated late August announcement, Education Minister George Abbott announced he would step down.
"We need a change of leadership on both ends . they both need to work together to look for compromises instead of reasons to fight each other," said Richmond association president Byron Stevens.
Many, however, are pleased with the provincial B.C. Education Plan - which aims to focus on individual learning, technology, curriculum changes and more - with an outline expected in May 2014.
Burnaby DPAC chair Jennifer Mezei particularly likes the "21st century" learning proposed by the plan. She also applauded the work her school district's done to cultivate technologies, such as email to send parents updates.
"It's a lot more of an effective tool than receiving a newsletter that's tucked in the bottom of the backpack," she said.
The government issued a B.C. Education Plan notice last week, announcing $10.7 million to support early reading between kindergarten and Grade 3 in every school district.
Total education operation costs this year are estimated at $4.7 billion, a more than $4-million increase to the previous year.