U Hill Students Organizing to Rebuild Their School

Facebook | Rebuild U Hill

From the facebook group description:

The Vancouver School Board is in the process of reviewing schools in the UBC/Dunbar area of the schools district. Students living west of Blanca are terribly served by the Vancouver School Board.

We like our schools, but consider the following:

The elementary school is over capacity at 550 students. Nearly 200 additional elementary students have to be bussed to school.

The secondary school was built for 325 and has over 500 students in it. Nearly 150 students have been turned away! The building is in extremely poor condition.

The school board plan isn’t perfect, but it will address the needs of hundreds of children how toady don’t have the luxury of a neighbourhood school

We need new schools NOW!

Public Meeting on the New Ministry Model Schools

What is a Provincial Model School? Education Minister Shirley Bond wants to create such schools as early as September 2007, touting them as a response to parent demands for more choice and a way to demonstrate innovative new ways of teaching challenging students. But Bond’s proposed new school model has drawn widespread controversy, with complaints of a return to segregation, a radical shift to U.S.-style education models and/or an excuse to duck failures in public education.

Come out tonight to learn more!

WHEN: Today, Wednesday, May 2, 2007, starting at 7:30 pm
WHERE: Vancouver Public Library, Peter Keye Room (downstairs) The meeting is hosted by an ad hoc group of Vancouver friends of public education. An expert panel will explore various sides and lead off an open Q&A discussion, moderated by former Vancouver School Board Chair Adrienne Montani:

Carol Simpson, parent of two sons on the autism spectrum, will discuss her family’s trials in the public system and why she gave up on inclusion
Nancy Perry, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, UBC, will discuss inclusion and what’s missing in the public system
Dan Laitch, Assistant professor, Faculty of Education, SFU, will discuss implications of the proposed new governance model
Charlie Naylor, a teacher and education researcher who specializes in special ed and inclusion, will offer a teachers’ perspective

Please join us in a search for better understanding of how best to serve challenging students and build a strong and healthy public education system for all.

For more information call: 604 876-4123 or 604 874-1416 or visit: http://www.friendsofpubliceducation.blogspot.com/

URGENT: UPDATE ON VSB Budget cuts for September 2007

Rally at the VSB Main Office starting this Thursday, April 26th at 6:30 pm.

The VSB has presented a revised budget that includes no reductions of the deep staffing cuts outlined previously, in particular, cuts that will seriously impact schools’ ability to support students with special needs, ESL and other vulnerable students.

The VSB was able to find almost $1 million in additional funding for the coming year since last week, but the Board is recommending putting all these savings towards a rainy day fund — a stunning proposal in light of the potential to alleviate the worst of the destructive staffing cuts proposed for 2007/08. Those cuts include:

  • 3 vice principals
  • 7 supervision aides
  • one systems analyst
  • 34 Special Ed Assistants (SSWs)
  • 133 teachers (mostly non-enrolling teaches who support Libraries, ESL and Special Ed)

Please make an effort to come out to the Rally. Bring your umbrella to send a message to the VSB that it’s not just a rainy day — it’s pouring! — and that they need to stand up to support our students!

The VSB budget meeting starts inside at 7 pm so join us inside to support those who have registered to speak in an effort to convince the Board to take all possible steps to mitigate these cuts and to stand up and advocate strongly for adequate Provincial funding to stop this constant and destructive cycle of cuts!

Please pass this message on to at least one other VSB parent and encourage them to join us!

[From the SOS List]

Our kids deserve better! Rally for education.

There will be a rally outside of the Vancouver School Board Offices on April 26 at 6:30 pm (prior to the Board meeting at 7 pm) and in response to the proposed $5.83 million deficit VSB budget.

The slogan being used is “Our kids deserve better!” – bring your own placards and noise makers or show up early and make them on the spot (supplies will be available)

All parents, kids, teachers, support staff and friends are welcome.

The event is being organized by an ad hoc group “Friends of Public Education” – please spread the word and encourage families and friends to attend.

Poster for event: Download file

Vancouver School Board proposes deep special ed cuts

URGENT NOTICE: Please forward to Vancouver parents of students with special needs,
including students starting kindergarten in Sept. 07

Vancouver School Board proposes deep special ed cuts for Sept. ’07 despite rising special needs enrollment.

The Vancouver School Board has just announced proposed budget cuts of almost $6 million for the 2007-08 school year, with the majority of cuts targeting frontline services for students with special needs and other vulnerable students.

The Board claims these cuts are consistent with declining enrollment in Vancouver. But when the proposed special ed cuts are compared to growing special ed enrollment figures in Vancouver, the exact opposite is true. If approved, the proposed budget would mean significant further cuts to current support levels for students with special needs, and significantly reduced service levels for new students with special needs entering Vancouver schools.
Compounding past cuts
A special ed staffing analysis, submitted to the VSB budget process by the Board’s own Special Ed Advisory Committee (SEAC) in March, showed that caseloads of special education teachers in Vancouver have already risen by over 50% since the 2000/01 school year. The special ed student/teacher ratio rose from 9:1 in 2000 to 13:1 in 2006.

A group of UBC experts in this field pointed out in a recent Vancouver Sun Op Ed that these growing caseloads mean special ed teachers can no longer provide the direct one-on-one and small group instruction that these students require to succeed. In fact, most remaining special ed teachers are now confined to supervisory and consulting positions, where they no longer have time to deliver direct special ed instruction at all. Other factors, including a lack of training and expertise and current organizational models, have been identified as further hampering these teachers’ ability to address the complex needs of at-risk students. The students suffer, and indeed all students suffer, as the burden of unsupported students then falls on regular classroom teachers who simply can’t cope.

During the same period from 2000 to 2006, the total number of SSWs (special ed teaching assistants) in Vancouver also rose significantly, but Vancouver parents and stakeholders made it very clear at a series of meetings in December that current SSW support levels are still far below what’s required to meet actual student needs.

Concurrently, deep BC Liberal budget cuts in 2002-04 to the Ministry for Children and Family Development mean that services such as speech and occupational therapy have become all but unavailable to K-12 students who require these services to help overcome learning challenges.

VSB special ed student numbers RISING, NOT falling
While overall enrollment in Vancouver has dropped since 2000, the total number of students with special needs in the district has grown by more than 17% [figures exclude the Gifted category, which is no longer provincially funded]. District projections for 2007-08 are for further special needs enrollment increases. In the Autism category alone, there will be 40 new students entering kindergarten, about three times the number of Grade 12 students exiting the system.

Special ed disproportionately targeted for cuts
As the above figures show, the VSB has disproportionately targeted its most vulnerable students, including students with special needs, for service reductions over the past six years. Indeed, the relative special ed teacher/student ratio has gotten worse over the past six years while the overall teacher/ student ratio has improved, according to the VSB’s own figures. This disproportionately is even more evident in the cuts proposed for 2007/08.

In the recent landmark legal victory in Moore vs. North Van School District, the family argued successfully that cuts to special education were disproportionate to those made to programs and services for typically developing students and therefore discriminatory.

VSB Budget process
The VSB will be holding open hearings to hear arguments for/against these budget cuts on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 17 & 18. Unfortunately, the deadline to register to speak was April 12, a day after the proposed cuts were announced, making it all but impossible to get the word out in time for concerned parents to register. The Board will present a revised budget for final comments on Thursday, April 26. Anyone wishing to register to comment at the April 26 meeting must do so by April 24.

What can families do:
A group of concerned Vancouver parents, teachers and other partners are organizing a rally outside the VSB offices at Broadway & Fir on Thursday April 26 at 6:30 pm (prior to the Board meeting which starts at 7 pm). The theme is “Our Kids Deserve Better!” Bring your own placards or show up and make them on the spot (supplies provided). All parents, students, teachers, support staff and other “friends of public education” are welcome.

E-mail Vancouver trustees, Education Minister Shirley Bond, Opposition Critic David Cubberly, your MLA and local media to express your thoughts on the the proposed cuts. Consider what it says about the management competence and political will of our elected officials at both the provincial and district levels, who are responsible for this deepening decade-old crisis in special education in a Province currently sitting on a fiscal surplus worth billions. The long-run costs to taxpayers and society of failing to invest in supporting vulnerable students today will be far greater than what is being saved

Copy and paste the contacts below into the TO line of an e-mail message:
shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca, david.cubberley.mla@leg.bc.ca, ken.denike@vsb.bc.ca, don.lee@vsb.bc.ca, clarence.hansen@vsb.bc.ca, carol.gibson@vsb.bc.ca, al.wong@telus.net, sharon.gregson@vsb.bc.ca, allen.blakey@vsb.bc.ca, shirley.wong@vsb.bc.ca, eleanor.gregory@vsb.bc.ca

Document your child’s current support levels: Act now to confirm your child’s current support levels so that you will be armed to challenge individual cuts to your child’s supports in September, if the proposed VSB budget is approved. Ask your school to document current support levels in writing: [e.g. a full-time aide would be a 1.0 FTE (Full time equivalent); a half-time aide would be 0.5 FTE, etc.] Keep this on file so that you can compare it to SSW time and other supports allocated for 2007/08.

Ministry of Education policy requires the District to provide adequate support levels based on your child’s individual needs, as determined by a qualified professional, and as specified in the Individual Educational Plan (IEP). The school must prepare an IEP for every student with special needs and the parent must be invited to take part in preparing the IEP. (If school or district officials claim that a cut to a student’s support level is consistent with the VSB’s internal staffing formula, remind them that this formula has no validity under existing provincial policy. If you need advocacy assistance, please contact us and we will try to connect parents who need help advocating for their children with advocacy support.

Please pass this along to other parents of students with special needs!

Dawn Steele, Vancouver parent, MOMS

School Fees Survey -Vancouver DPAC Info

TO: All elementary and secondary PAC chairs and their parent communities

FROM: Vancouver DPAC executive.

DATE: Monday, January 22.

Your Vancouver DPAC executive met with executive reps from ten lower mainland districts during winter break to share information and discuss concerns. At that meeting, we learned of a school fees survey developed by Victoria DPAC in concert with six other DPACs. Vancouver DPAC agreed to make the survey available to Vancouver parents. Since then, a number of other DPACs representing @ 50% of the B.C. student population have joined in.

We really need to know your opinions so we can accurately represent them to Minister of Education Shirley Bond and the provincial parent group British Columbia Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.

Information meeting re-scheduled to January 31st

The city-wide meeting to provide information/answer questions about the recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling on school fees and its implications for Vancouver schools and programs, postponed earlier this month due to inclement weather, has been re-scheduled:

Wednesday, January 31st
7:00 -9:00 p.m.
John Oliver secondary cafeteria, 41st and Fraser

Parents, principals and Vancouver Teachers’ Federation reps are invited (and encouraged!) to attend.

Parent survey so we can represent your opinions to the Ministry of and BCCPAC

While the January 31st meeting (see above) is for all stakeholders, this survey is for parents only.

The survey is being conducted over the internet. To participate simply type the following link into your address bar:


This survey is for all Vancouver parents. Please share this information as widely as possible with your parent community.

As of mid-day January 21st, 579 Vancouver parents had completed the survey. The greater the number of parents that participates, the more accurately DPAC can represent your views.

If you do not have internet access and would like a paper copy of the survey, please contact the DPAC coordinator Rosemary Wakefield at 604-261-1250 and she will fax a copy to your school. Anyone with questions about the survey can phone Rosemary or email her at rkwakefield@shaw.ca.

Deadline for completion of the survey is January 31st. Members of your DPAC executive will then compile the results prior to a February 4th meeting with DPAC representatives from all participating districts and BCCPAC executive members to prepare a joint presentation to Minister of Education Shirley Bond. We will share district and provincial results with Vancouver PACs.

Please encourage your parent community to complete the survey and to attend the January 31st information meeting. We need to hear your voices.

For background on the school fees issues click here.

Students Still Against BC Graduation Portfolio

Campaigning against the current BC Graduation portfolio continues with more online petitions from BC Students. Copied below is the text from the current online petion which as of November 9th has almost 7,500 signatures.

Parents are encouraged to sign this petition as well. Teachers, parents, BCTF and the representatives of the Ministry of Education, who are conducting the grad portfolio review, are informed about this petition. The petition will be closed on Nov. 19 at midnight, and the signatures will be sent to the BC Minister of Education. SIGN it NOW and spread the word! If we want to win, we have to take matters into our own hands!

To: To the BC Ministry of Education

Every student in BC – with the exception of the graduates of 2007 – still have to do the graduation portfolio in order to graduate from high school.

The graduation portfolio became optional for the 2007 graduates. The students in BC, who will graduate at a later time expect from the Government of BC and the Ministry of Education to be treated equally, and ask for the graduation portfolio to become optional for them as well.

Furthermore the students, along with the teachers still do not understand fully the complete requirements of the graduation portfolio, making it extremely difficult and very time consuming for the students to work on it. Because of the lack of exact instructions to do the portfolio, the students are losing precious studying time for the other subjects and the provincial exams.

Is it fair to let some students have the portfolio optional, while for the other students it remains mandatory?

If you wish to better the lives of the students in BC, please sign the petition below. After obtaining 1000 (or more) signatures, the petition will be sent to the BC Minister of Education, Shirley Bond.


The Undersigned

Previous posts on the grad portfolio: November 6, November 3, September 5, August 13, January 27 .