Supporting Effective Leadership in School Board

Elect Charles Menzies -Metro Vancouver Director Electoral Area A: Supporting Effective Leadership in School Board

As residents in the UBC/UEL portions of Electoral Area ‘A’ we are also able to vote for candiadtes to the Vancouver Board of Education. Being able to have a voice and an impact in the Vancouver Board of Education discussions is critically important for our community.

Over the past decade essentially uncontrolled development at UBC and in the UEL has increased the pressure on our two local schools -University Hill Elementary and University Hill Secondary. Both schools are seriously over capacity and many of our more than 1500 school aged children are forced to find school placements outside of our community. This has to stop.

Vancouver’s Secret Schools Report

Vancouver Sun blogs

While attention was focused on that west-side neighbourhood, everyone knew a broader report about facility use across the district existed, but no one had seen it. (At least, no one who was willing to speak publicly.)

Former trustee Noel Herron requested the report under the freedom of information law and received a heavily censored copy that he has passed to me.

Out of 58 pages, 38 were fully or partially severed.

This report was discussed at a board of education meeting in June 2007 but I’m told a majority of trustees voted to keep it secret. What has happened to it since then? Will it be on the desk of new trustees after next month’s election or has it become irrelevant?

School Board Elections

School board elections: Critical but ignored :: The Hook

After the uproar of the federal and US elections, B.C.’s municipal vote on November 15 will cause scarcely a ripple. In North Vancouver District, for example, voter turnout in 2005 was 30 per cent. In the City of North Van, it was 22 per cent.

For North Van School Board chair Chris Dorais, the impending election is full of potential for change. But with no mayoral contests in the City and District, he expects voter turnout to be even lower than usual. A small minority of the electorate will decide on change.

QEA Parents Quite Angry

Vancouver Sun blogs

Questions that parents from QEA asked VSB staff earlier this week.

“The VSB’s policy manual states ‘We believe in being accountable to the community, and we value and promote open communications’. Many parents at QEA, however, have encountered staff who are openly resentful of their requests to communicate about an issue of concern. Staff at multiple levels of the organization routinely fail to return phone calls or respond to written queries (even over a period of weeks). Chris Kelly, do you or do you not believe that you need to be accountable to the community?”
“In September, allegations of favoritism were raised in the media because two schools in Premier Gordon Campbell’s riding had been selected for a community-service pilot program. Now it appears that these same two schools and QEA – which was last year saved from liquidation following extensive campaigning by parents – are the only schools in the area to suffer staff cuts. Is there any way in which the allegations of favoritism could have influenced the decisions on school staff transfers, and is this why we have not been allowed to see enrolment and staffing data for other schools in the area?”

QEA parents should do a closer look at staffing across the district. And, there is still the problem that hundreds of children from the university area are being denied a space in their schools as enrolment drops in other areas.

More on Gregson

From the Vision Campaign website:Sharon Gregson | Vote Vision

Sharon’s work has involved advocating for quality, affordable care and early learning for Vancouver children. She supported the Garibaldi and Queen Elizabeth Annex parents when their schools were threatened with closure, advocated for new funding sources for UBC schools, pushed for opportunities for input into the Educational Facilities Review, and supported teachers who spoke out against high school classrooms that exceeded size and composition guidelines.

Advocating for new funding? Pushing for input opportunities?

Here’s an example of how former COPE Trustee Sharon Gregson advocated for new funding:

On 6/3/08 8:12 AM, “Sharon Gregson (trustee)” wrote: “I agree wholeheartedly that the situation cannot continue at UBC. However, to shrug off the provincial responsibility is not appropriate at this stage either. Education is funded at that level and I’m not just talking about the new schools as obviously that should be their number one prioroty (sic) to fund in this District. I am also refering (sic) to the renovations and modernization that is urgently required during seismic upgrading – renovations that are far more efficiently done during the seismic process. Right now the province has stopped that funding – since they started on the seismic upgrading issue.

As we all know, the District has been asking and now demanding capital at UBC for years and the District has, as far as I can see, jumped through all the hoops that the province has erected…and still the province plays games with kids lives by ignoring the problem.

I have been responding to all the emails from UBC parents urging them to put pressure on the Premier’s Office – after all it is only estimated that $17 million will be gained from the disposition of the Annex – all it would take is the Premier to decide this is one of his pet projects – after all he is the “mega mayor” – and the issue would be at least partially resolved. $17 million at the provincial level is a drop in the bucket for them to look like the good guys and save the day.

Advocating for new funding involved telling parents who’s children are being bussed out of the neighbourhood and who’s children attend school in a ‘decrepit’ building to lobby harder. Apparently 17 million is “just a drop ion the bucket” and with proper lobbying the “mega mayor” could be convinced to spill some our way.

Here is another example of the former COPE Trustee’s advocacy for new funding:

On 6/3/08 7:37 AM, “Sharon Gregson (trustee)” wrote: I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for parents to contact the Premier’s Office directly (and to do it this week even if they have done it before) – as well as the MLA – without additional provincial funding commited (sic) for these capital projects the Vancouver Board of Education cannot adequately meet the needs of all the children in the Dunbar/UBC area. Time really is of the essence and additional pressure is urgently required.

Shifting responsibility to a different level of government is a sadly typical response of our politicians. What we need now are people who are willing to stand up and accept responsibility and to search for real solutions that can be effectively implemented. It is easy to stand in opposition and criticize those making the tough decisions. The true test is being able to make the decisions that need to be made, not saying ‘gee, sorry, it’s not my fault, but I’m in your corner.’

We need trustees who’s record of making decisions is clear. We need trustees who have real plans and programs that invovle more than urging parents to lobby harder.

Two more for the NPA

Eileen Le Gallais and Margit Nance bring the NPA roster to eight for school board. According to Lisa Newby there is, as of yet, no ninth candidate.

Please note -info listed is from a web search and comes with all the cautions regarding problems of accuracy and potential mis-identification. Once the NPA finalize their campaign website perhaps we will be able to double check the info posted below.

Info on Candidates

Margit Nance, Film Producer and Owner of Nance Communications Ltd. Nunatsiaq News

Betrayed: video identifies sexual assault victim
Nobody told a 14-year-old rape victim that the sentencing of her attacker had been made into an educational video.

Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — More than a decade ago, Elisapee, who was then 14 years old, was sexually assaulted in a small Baffin community.

Since then, Elisapee, now 31, has worked hard to overcome the trauma and put the past behind her for her sake and for the sake of her two daughters, aged five and seven.

But Elisapee learned recently that she’s been violated all over again.

This time the assailant isn’t the “family friend” who, in 1984, tied Elisapee’s hands behind her back with a ghetto-blaster cord so Elisapee couldn’t fight him off while he forced her to have intercourse with him.

This time Elisapee feels that the assailant is a group of people who should have had her best interests at heart — members of the territorial justice system and academics who have dedicated most of their careers to studying social justice and criminology.

Since 1985, details about the sexual assault committed against Elisapee, and her assailant’s subsequent sentencing hearing, have been repeated innumerable times in an educational video whose copyright holders, according to the video’s credits, are: Simon Fraser University, the NWT territorial court, Curt Taylor Griffiths and Margit Nance. (Nance is also the video’s producer, director and narrator.)

The detailed information in the video is so telling that some of Elisapee’s friends and relatives – who viewed the video at various training courses over the years — identified Elisapee as the victim immediately.

No informed consent

But none of Elisapee’s friends told Elisapee about the video because they assumed she knew about it.

They assumed that the producer obtained Elisapee’s prior informed consent — or at least that of her parents, since Elisapee was a minor at the time — before videotaping the sentencing hearing.

But Elisapee says her parents weren’t even told that a video about the crime she endured was being produced.

Nance, the producer, said presiding Judge Michel Bourassa vetted the video’s content. She said she feels no responsibility for what happened with the video afterwards.

The Video in Question: Arctic Bay the community and the circuit court []

Arctic Bay: the community and the circuit court, by Margit Nance

Eileen LeGallais – BEd, MEd Past Board of Directors Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice

Eileen is recently retired from a career in education, teaching primary, elementary, secondary and post secondary. The later years were focused on teaching English as a Second Language, Teacher Training and Counselling. Since retirement, interests have included volunteering for John Howard Society in the Youth Court Program, member of the Vancouver Family Court Youth/Justice Committee, co- chair on the Restorative Justice Sub-Committee, and reading for the visually impaired at UBC Crane Library. Other activities include Family, Tennis, Tai Chi, Language studies and travelling. Eileen was Vice-President of the Board from 2007-2008.

Oylmpic breaks and what they said

A ‘conversation from “The Report Card” on the February Olympic break . . . Vancouver Sun blogs

Dawn Steele said:

Two weeks off school because of traffic??!! Sheesh! How about getting out of the cars instead and finding a more earth-friendly way to commute to your job – every day!

This vote does not seem to put the interests and needs of students first – very disappointing! How many students are going to be able to afford tickets to even one event? And what do they do for the rest of the two weeks? What about students facing big exams? What about students with special needs?

And I see this as a recipe for trouble – 20,000 youths roaming around the city unsupervised all day at a time when we’ll have all sorts of demonstrators and people looking to cause trouble, plus an enormous security presence with personnel on hairtrigger alert! What are they thinking!?
October 3, 2008 3:01 PM

Anne Guthrie Warman said:

Sheesh?? Now there’s a coherent, articulate response. Perhaps our ubiquitous ‘professional parent’ blogger should do her research before asking such rhetorically cliched questions as “What were they thinking?” 40, to 50,000 (projected numbers) more people in this city will mean that traffic corridors for everyone will be a nightmare. Many teachers are, for the record ‘out of their cars’ and onto public transit which will equally be stretched to and beyond capacity for everyone. However, given teacher salaries, many cannot and do not live in Vancouver and have a lengthy commute every day. This of course ,is to say nothing of the thousands of parents in this city who insist on driving their children to school, a journey of often fewer than 10 blocks. Teachers also voted overwhelmingly that child care and community centre activities be provided and that the VBE Olympics Coordinating Committee look at ways of providng access to events for students.
October 5, 2008 12:00 PM

Dawn Steele said:

Sheesh! How about a “coherent, articulate” answer to the serious questions raised instead of attacking me and trying to dodge accountability for your decision by blaming other parents’ driving habits?
October 5, 2008 1:18 PM

Anne Guthrie Warman said:

I answered the question around our thinking . But it’s not the answer you want to hear . Quel surprise. And for the record it is the Vancouver Board of Education who have raised these concerns and asked our members for input on this possible closure.

Irwin Loy on Secondary school teachers and Gregson Vancouver – Blog – Secondary school teachers say no to Gregson

Her gun advocacy and involvement in recreational shooting has cost school trustee Sharon Gregson the support of Vancouver’s secondary school teachers.

The Vision Vancouver school board candidate was given the news Friday in an e-mail. The Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association won’t be endorsing Gregson because of her “previously published stance on concealed weaponry.”