BCCPAC Says Saftey First

In their end of AGM press release the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils issued a statement saying that parents put safety first. Good idea -at least at first blush. But safety, according to the BCCPAC, sounds more like surveillance and discipline than about care and concern.

As noted in their press release the delegates at the annual convention voted to support the provincial governments new registry of teachers. In their resolution attending BCCPAC delegates voted that “the registry include the names of the educators, date of their criminal record checks, status of their teaching certificates, practicing status, education (including any specialty training) as well as their discipline histories, including a link to each history.” Why not insist that disciplined teachers wear a red letter ‘D.’

Safety at school is an important issue. Having public dissing-boards isn’t about safety -it’s about shaming and voyeurism.

On a related matter it would appear that the overwhelming support of the resolution implied in the press release is a big spin. One BCCPAC delegate who was at the annual convention has this to say on the matter:

I am concerned about . . . [the] resolutions and the news release that followed the AGM. Having spent my working life as a professional communicator/public relations practitioner, I note with surprise the emphasis put on the resolution regarding the teacher registry. Those at the conference will recall that this was a very close vote, which I believe (and please correct me if I’m wrong) passed with about 51.5% of votes cast in favour and 48.5% opposed. Given the low a representation of parents we had at the meeting (approx 327 proxies), I think it verges on misleading to make the statements included in the news release without some reference to how divided members are on the issue. In my own work, making a statement like this based on these kind of close numbers would raise a lot of ethical flags despite the technical validity of the vote, exposing the client for whom I was writing to potential criticism (and bad PR). I suggest some follow-up clarification is made to those to whom the release was distributed. Barring that, members may feel compelled to write their own letters of “clarification” along the lines of “While BCCPAC members, by a thin margin, voted in favor of a resolution supporting a public teacher registry, members were clearly divided on this issue, with some members raising concerns about…”

After being present at three BCCPAC AGMs I am continually struck by how often votes are so close that a hand count is required. What this indicates to me is that our membership is diverse and that on many issues, we don’t have a consensus or anything remotely resembling one. There is nothing wrong with that (and it’s a healthy sign of a democratic organization) but there is, in my opinion, something wrong with presenting a different “united” picture to the public, particularly in something so politically charged with legislation now at committee stage on this issue.