Endorsements for School Board

School Board is one of the hardest and least appreciated of municipal-type councils -but it is also one of the most important. The three main municipal parties in Vancouver are holding nomination meetings on successive weekends in September (NPA Sept. 13; Vision Vancouver Sept. 20; COPE Sept. 28.)

Since my children began school in 1996 I have seen four different school boards and several dozen trustees. Some work hard -irrespective of their political parties, some work hard but only for their political parties and some didn’t appear to either work or understand the issues at all. Some very good people found themselves hamstrung by party affiliation and didn’t seem to be able to do good work when it meant cooperating with trustees from their opposing party. Over twelve years one does build up a set of strong opinions about the people in public positions and about what they should be able to do.

My criteria for a ‘good’ trustee involves some simple points. First and foremost, I think that they should have a history of direct and meaningful involvement in public education. Secondly, they should have a capacity to work well across political and partisan lines. And, finally, they should be able to demonstrate effective involvement with community members in a manner that builds collaborative engagement.

Using the above criteria here’s my list of the top people via for school board nominations from the three main municipal parties. Please note that if I do not know about a candidate (i.e. have never met with, talked with, or otherwise been able to see them in action) or if I have nothing positive to contribute about a candidate I will not list them below.

If I were voting today (in order of preference):

Helisa Luke (Vision): I have known Helisia since we were parents involved with the founding of Save Our Schools in the early days of the Gordon Campbell government. S.O.S., while severely attached by then Min. of Education Christie Clark for being a front group for the BCTF/NDP/COPE, was in fact a very middle of the road group of parents from across Vancouver who had really had enough. Serious cutbacks to education (through a legislated teachers contract, increases to MSP premiums, etc) made it difficult for schools to provide the education that we should have. S.O.S. included parents from all political stripes. Anyone who was there can have nothing but positive things to say about Helisia’s capacity to work in common cause with people of a variety of outlooks. For this work alone I would give Helisia my strongest support. I have also seen her work in support of public education since then through my role on a number of Parent Advisory Councils at school and district level. In this domain it is even clearer that Helisia is a candidate who is interested in education for all children and furthermore, that she truly understands what is needed to do a good job.

Patti Bacchus (Vision): I also first met Patti through the Save Our Schools campaign. Patti exemplifies the type of parent who gets involved because they care about education for all children, not just education for their children. Like many of us her first brush with education politics arose from her experiences as a parent, but Patti shows us that concern about education is a community effort. Patti has been involved in advocacy groups for special education, school seismic safety, and proper funding and resources for public schools. During the several years that I have been involved in the District Parents’ Advisory Council, I have had the opportunity to see Patti working as a parent advocate at the district level on a variety of committees and task forces. As a parent and community member I know that we would be well served by Patti

Bill Bargeman (COPE). I first met Bill when he was on the Vancouver Secondary Teacher’s Union executive. I am a strong supporter of unions and workers rights to fair representation in unions. However, I take a dim view of the unionist who use the hard won gains of previous generations to hide incompetence, avoid responsibility, or to opt out of ethical behaviour. Bill is not that sort of unionist. Everything that I have about Bill gives me great confidence in him. I respected his leadership in the teacher’s union. He’s the type of teacher that I would love my son’s to have. In my role on the District Parents’ Advisory Council I have seen him act in a firm, clear and respectful manner. As a union leader he would not always agree with the School Board. What makes Bill a rare leader is that he could take the disagreement and still keep the path open for collaboration. Too often politicians and others talk about the importance of unity or agreement when what they are really saying is be quiet if you don’t agree with me. Democracy, however, is built upon disagreement and the capacity to work through that. Bill can work with people even when he disagrees. The outcome is often a better thing for all concerned. Bill will make a great trustee. I look forward to seeing him elected!

Ken Clement (Vision). Ken has been a First Nations community worker for many years in Vancouver. One thing that our public system is failing on is the way in which aboriginal education is back-seated to a host of other concerns. Administrators and politicians will put in a good word here and there, but the real work that needs to be done is constantly overlooked. The problem is that the aboriginal voice in our education system is constantly silenced and ignored. By having a person like Ken on school board we can go a long way toward making sure that the Aboriginal
voice (parents and students) is heard.

Alan Wong (COPE). Alan Wong is one of the longest serving trustees on the school board. I have known Alan since I was a member of the COPE Education Committee about a decade ago (I’ve since left COPE to participate in Vision’s education committee). Alan strikes me as fair minded in his dealings with education issues. He clearly has strong perspectives, but is willing to consider alternatives without dismissing them out of hand. These are important qualities for a school trustee.

Stepan Vdovine (Vision). A UBC student and current school trustee in the outer Fraser Valley, Stepan has a lot going for him that makes him the right choice for Vancouver’s public education system. He has demonstrated that he can do the job. He brings a perspective to the job that is lacking among those of us who are a bit long in the tooth and who may have grown a bit jaded in the process.

Jane Bouey (COPE). Jane was a trustee during the COPE majority board of a few years back. Of all the trustees that I met during the COPE term of power she was among those that I most liked and appreciated for her sincerity, hard work, and willingness to actually make education work. Her work in the areas of special education in particular demonstrated to me that she has what it takes to be a good trustee.

Mike Lombardi (Vision). Mike is recently retired from one of the BC Federation of Teachers most critical staff jobs -communications director. I first met Mike around the issue of the provincial government’s grade ten exam policy. These exams have introduced an entire level of control and monitoring in the school system with problematic outcomes for many students. At the time Mike was involved in the Prince of Wales Parent Advisory Council and they were mounting a strong opposition to the new exams. Mike’s strength lies in the way he approaches an issue that he feels passionately about and is not afraid to make those opinions clear. As a member of the DPAC executive at the time I was struck by the forcefulness of his argument but also by the fact he was able to work with a large group of parents, many of whom actually supported the grade ten exams. The combination of Mike’s professional background in the teacher’s federation with his commitment to public education will make him a good choice for school board.

Carol Gibson (NPA). Carol will be a strange pick for those who know me. I would be the first to say that I disagree with Carol politically on many points. To be blunt, I think that she, like many of her NPA colleagues on the School Board, should take more decisive public action and positions on the matters before the school board instead of letting senior management do all the talking. That being said, Carol certainly demonstrated her capacity and ability to work with parents at the local school level and for this I would put a check beside her name on the ballot. University Hill area schools are grossly over capacity yet we have had practically no action for almost a decade. Former COPE trustee Kevin Milsip did a lot of good work during his brief term in office. Carol picked up the ball and worked with us at the school to get the information we needed and to keep our needed school concerns on the agenda.

If I were voting at the COPE nomination meeting here are my picks:
Bargeman, Bouey, Wong, Blakey -I would leave the fifth spot empty unless forced to vote for five. Then it would be Noel Herron.

Chhina Checks Off His Top Four for School Board

Listing a vision for Vision – 12th and Cambie

It appears to be Vision Vancouver school board candidate Narinder Chhina’s wish list for school board and council. On the left side of the page is a Vision school board ballot. The letter X is marked in boxes for Chhina, Kenneth Clement, Shargon Gregson and Stepan Vdovine.

Vdovine was surprised to learn that he had been added to the Chhina list as the first he had heard about it was when the mailout arrived at his door.

Vision is running four school board candidates in the Nov. 15 election.

French Immersion Spaces Still Lacking

Spaces for students in Vancouver’s French Immersion programme are still lacking. Rising demand and expectations for French Immersion has not been met by the Vancouver School Board. The problem has persisted for over five years with many parents sitting waiting in lineups, putting their faith in lotteries or shifting to private Catholic schools.

Meanwhile educational facilities review percolate, governments dither, and nothing really gets down.

There are serious problems finding staff to fill the positions that would be needed and there seems to be just as strong opposition to French Immersion programmes as there is demand and support for it. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make sense that more can’t be done to resolve the issue and to make places for students to learn in either official language a reality for all students.

Parents face problems finding French immersion school places | Straight.com

West Side resident Miro Jackanin says he had several reasons for wanting to enroll his five-year-old daughter at L’Ecole Bilingue elementary, one of four French immersion–only public schools in Vancouver.

The Czech-born emigre related that he has been living one and a half blocks away from the school for the past 22 years. According to the father of one, it would have been practical for either him or his wife to walk their daughter, Emily Ann, to the school when she started kindergarten this month.

Like many parents, Jackanin wants his daughter to learn French, one of the country’s two official languages. “I arrived when I was 25 years old,” Jackanin told the Georgia Straight. “I had two jobs and I studied for six years. I’m a model immigrant citizen, the same goes for my wife. Now I want the best for my kid, and some bureaucracy problems aren’t helping it.”

NPA School Board -from the Courier

NPA three candidates shy of full school board slate

Cheryl Rossi, Vancouver Courier
Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Following its second nomination meeting in nearly four months, the NPA does not have a full slate of candidates to run for school board. It has six nominees for nine seats.

At the Sept. 13 nomination meeting, Heather Holden and Lakhbir Singh joined the four school board contenders appointed at the NPA’s initial nomination meeting in June. Acclaimed at that first meeting were Ken Denike, Carol Gibson and Clarence Hansen, who are incumbents on the school board, and Sophia Woo, a mental health clinician with Vancouver Coastal Health.

A seventh nominee, Joanne Pulis, was announced before the September meeting “inadvertently” said the party’s campaign co-chair, Paul Wilson. He said she withdrew for personal reasons.

Choices on Tieleman’s Blog for Vision’s School Board.

Bill Tieleman: Tieleman’s picks for Vision Vancouver council, school and park board candidates

School Board – 4

Sharon Gregson – More than any other candidate, Vancouver School Board trustee Gregson stands out as someone Vision needs to nominate. A tireless advocate for children and parents, a recognized national expert on child care, Gregson is Vision’s only VSB incumbent.

Regrettably, some have criticized her competitive firearm target shooting hobby – which has nothing to do with her impressive record at the VSB, like winning the support of former NPA trustee Eleanor Gregory.

Patti Bacchus – A longtime advocate for students with disabilities who has served on the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council, Bacchus.

Mike Lombardi – A former teacher who also worked for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, Lombardi’s background will make a difference.

Narinder Chhina – A business owner, Chhina is also active in multicultural organizations.

You can read my coments on what the candidates said here and here.

Provincial Government Intervenes in VSB Decision

Home – mike watkins dot ca

The B.C. government, not the Vancouver board of education, selected a school in Premier Gordon Campbell’s riding for special treatment under a $30-million project unveiled this month, the board chairman admitted Sunday. But Clarence Hansen said he supports the government’s choice, even though some parents are angry over what appears to be political favouritism.

No politics? Then explain this:

Hansen said General Gordon “isn’t the one we would have picked” for the pilot but added that parents earned that right through their aggressive lobbying and creative ideas.

That’s interesting, as it has been abundantly clear that Committee II did not support in any way shape or form the aggressive lobbying and creative ideas the Gordon parents were putting forth. If anything such creativity was going to slow down the Gordon project from ever getting approval.

On Cross-boundary Enrolments

Frances Bula on the “Highlights of the NPA day”

In response to public comments by two school board candidates:

On the east-side exodus: candidates and commentators need to do a thorough job of studying the actual data. I have and, the situation is not a tidal wave of students flooding west. Is there cross boundary movement? Yes, there is. Is it a massive move from the depths of the poorest to the heights of the richest area schools? No, it is not.

However, the simplicity of blaming west-side for east side woes is compelling for those commentators not interested in the complexities of reality. Please keep in mind that much of this east/west so-called conflict is a serious error in perception not supported in real terms as there is no monolithic ‘west-side’ -there are pockets of wealth such as around Dunbar Heights, areas of West Point Grey, Shaunessy, SW Marine Drive, but in today’s Vancouver they are isolates and do not define an entire area).

To get a sense of what is actually happening a couple things have to be understood. First, there are district programs that draw directly from a cross-district student population. These programs, like French Immersion, High School Mini-Schools, International Baccalaureate, Alternative Education programs (Total and Ideal or Bing Satellite, for example), Montessori, Special Ed (Access, GLD, ELAC, for example). These programs pull from a wide area of the district. For some schools, Like Churchill and Kitsilano Secondaries cross boundary can be a high proportion of the overall student population. These are, in fact only one portion of total cross-boundary enrolments.

The second category is from one regular program to another regular program. On this score the Vancouver School Board data shows that if a student moves boundaries the move is typically from home school to a school whose’ catchment is adjoin the home school. This is not a major east to west drain.

Many of the readers of this blog will likely find the complexities and details more then they asked for. But it seems to me that people should inform themselves of the reality and the real evidence before making blind statements based upon their assumptions and misconceptions. Consider the follow data sheets from the UBC/UEL area to get a sense of some of the complexity of movement. Download special needs and ESL student data. Download UBC/UEL student data.

One other thing – there is another series element of cross-boundary enrolment that is being overlook and downplayed in this east-to-west- claim; it’s the west-to-east forced movement of several hundred children from the University area. Since we are not part of Vancouver proper we do seem to get ignored. But for about half a decade a growing problem of under-capacity in our local schools has led to hundreds of children of elementary level being bussed to schools more than 10 kilometers away. At the high school level this is contributing to overcrowding at nearby Byng Secondary where students will likely soon find themselves being forced further east again.

Last year, partly in jest, I suggested that high school students should be shipped east in order to solve the overcrowding at U Hill Secondary. Who knows, perhaps we will start to see happen because there is not immediate solution.

NPA Trustee Candidate Laments the mythic East-side exedus

Highlights of the NPA day

Lakhbir Singh, the doctor running for school board, lamented the exodus of east-side kids to west-side schools. He blamed the Fraser Institute, in part, for its ratings that make people think east-side schools aren’t as good. But he knows they are, because he went to east-side schools and he didn’t become a drug dealer. Instead, he became a doctor and worked with the Canadian Navy. (That sensitivity about east/west schools seems to be a theme for certain candidates. Narinder Chhina, who’s competing for a Vision school board nomination, also talked about the east-side exodus at the Vision meeting last week and suggested banning cross-boundary enrolment, a proposal that provoked internal gasps from certain members of the audience who realized the revolution that would provoke among Vancouver parents.)

See an earlier comment I made on cross-boundary enrolments.

NPA School Board Candidates

The NPA seems to be running six or seven candidates for school board. It is a bit puzzling that the NPA is not able to find a full slate at this late date. I suspect that, unless they are intentionally planning to run a short slate, they will manage to put some bodies into the remaining two or three slots before the close of the nomination period. Here’s a review of what is being said online about the situation.

How many NPA school-board candidates?

It’s a bit confusing, since the news release that went out this afternoon listed newcomer Joanne Pulis as the party’s seventh candidate. That’s in addition to veterans Clarence Hansen, Carol Gibson, and Ken Denike, along with first-timers Heather Holden, Lakhbir Singh and Sophia Woo. But then I was told by a couple of people that Joanne may have to withdraw because of a family issue. She was not at the meeting. So now I’m not sure. Stay tuned.

NPA nominates more candidates

Three candidates were nominated to run for the Vancouver School Board: Heather Holden, Joanne Pulis and Lakhbir Singh.

Four candidates were nominated in June: school trustees Ken Denike, Carol Gibson and Clarence Hansen were renominated, along with Sophia Woo.

NPA council slate includes five women and a gay man :: The Hook

For School Board: Ken Denike, Carol Gibson, Clarence Hansen, park-board commissioner Heather Holden, Lakhbir Singh, Sophia Woo, and Joanne Pulis.

Local News Story

Heather Holden, Joanne Pulis and Lakhbir Singh round out School Board.

24 Hours Vancouver

NPA is for now also short three candidates for the traditional nine spots on the school board slate.

News1130 – ALL NEWS RADIO.

three new NPA candidates are running for the Vancouver School Board: Heather Holden, Joanne Pulis and Lakhbir Singh. Current trustees Carol Gibson, Clarence Hansen and Ken Denike were re-nominated in June, along with Sophia Woo.

Non-Partisan Association announces full list of candidates

School board candidates include Heather Holden, Joanne Pulis, Lakhbir Singh, Ken Denike, Carol Gibson, Clarence Hansen and Sophia Woo.

Who is the seventh NPA School Board Pick?

Having never heard of nor having never previously met the named 7th school board pick here are some possibilities as to Ms. Pulis’ identity. Please note that as with all web-based searches the information should not be considered accurate unless independently verified. Nonetheless, if this is the NPA candidate I do feel a bit concerned about their approach to school board issues.

CGA-BC Announces President and Board of Governors For 2007

Joanne Pulis, CGA, has been on the CGA-BC Board since 2004. She is a management consultant based in Richmond.


Pay Less Tax CGA Richmond Chapter 2004

“This seminar is of interest to all as it brings to light monetary opportunities for persons with disabilities and their families”

Joanne Pulis, CGA

Prayer Circle For Whales and Dolphins: Page 2
A Joanne Pulis of Richmond BC, is listed as a member of the prayer circle for whales etc which is described on the main page as follows: “From a mystical point of view, whales and dolphins, both members of the cetacean race, are said to have come from the Syrian system. They carry the living records of perfect harmony and balance, and work to hold the oceanic grids of the planet. Whales in particular hold a very powerful vibration of love and peace; they hold an expansive state of consciousness, which they emit into the waters of mother earth. All our cetacean friends are here to share their advanced consciousness and wisdom with us.”

Clement’s Profil Finally Posted to Vision Vancouver

Vision Vancouver — School Board Candidates

Ken Clement has resided in Vancouver for twenty five years and is a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation (Cranbrook). As an urban Aboriginal person who attended residential school, he has faced adversity and oppression but continues to show community leadership. He firmly believes he can represent the best interests and empower all Vancouver residents.

Ken’s employment and volunteer experiences have given him direct opportunities to work with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

Ken’s community involvement has provided a voice on health, affordable housing, and social justice issues. With Vision Vancouver, Ken will provide the specialized knowledge bridging the gap between the divergent communities within Vancouver.