Open letter to Patti Bachus, Chair VSB – transgender policy

Dear Patti,

I have been following the debate regarding the new policy revisions to support trans* students in the VSB schools.

The VSB policy revision is a considerate and well thought out document.  As a parent and former DPAC Exec I strongly support the revised policy document.  The School Board has a responsibility to care for the needs and well being of all children, not the fears of a socially conservative group of adults.

I have had the opportunity to speak with some of the parents here in the University Neighbourhoods Area and am saddened to learn how fearful some of my newcomer neighbours are.  (I hasten to add, not all, just some). Those who are opposed appear afraid of issues that they have not previously encountered in their countries of origin, or at least issues that were potentially brushed under the table. This leads me to suggest that there is important work to be done in our changing communities with these socially conservative neighbours.  We need to bring people forward with us simultaneously with the introduction of these arguably minor revisions.

That said, I strongly urge the VSB to take the principled and just stance of putting these policy revisions into force.  The revisions are fairly modest, to be quite honest.  The safety of young people who may experience bullying and harassment by others is paramount and clearly trumps the fears of parents regarding the use of bathrooms – the most minor aspect of the entire policy (yet the point I hear the most complaints about).

You are welcome to share my thoughts and opinions with your fellow trustees and members of the public.

With warm regards I wish you the courage to do what is right and to put these policies into play.



Facebook support page

Draft revised VSB Transgender policy


Indigenous School Names in the Lowermainland

There are a few schools in the lowermainland with Indigenous names.  In this blog entry I will be listing these schools over the next little while.  This is in part a response to the opportunity in Vancouver (SD39) to be able to suggest a name for a new school near UBC.

In Richmond a new school, opened in 2000, has a Musqueam name.

Spul’u’kwuk’s Elementary School opened in September 2000 and is located in the north-west corner of Richmond, in the area known as Terra Nova [new land -an unfortunate district name given the history of colonizations.  Somewhat ironic when paired with the indigenous school name. ED]. It is situated in an area of park land and new homes, close to the Middle Arm of the Fraser River and the western dyke bordering the Strait of Georgia. The name of the school is from the Musqueam First Nation and means “place of bubbling water”, in reference to the spring water which bubbled up in the area. Many years ago a Musqueam permanent seasonal fishing settlement was situated close to the site of the present school. Since it opened  our school has grown quite rapidly and is now a mid-size to large school that has approximately 425 students.
Students at Hamilton Elementary did a small history project in 2000 on the role and place of Musqueam people in Richmond.  You can find it here.

Bill 36 – end of standard school year

Introduction and
First Reading of Bills

Bill 36 — School Amendment Act, 2012

Hon. G. Abbott presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled School Amendment Act, 2012.

Hon. G. Abbott: I am pleased to introduce the School Amendment Act, which will support B.C.’s education plan by removing barriers to personalized learning and providing students and parents with greater flexibility and choice.

First, the legislation will eliminate the standard school calendar as of the 2013-2014 school year to enable school districts to offer more creative scheduling options that would better meet the need of their students.


Second, the legislation will increase choice by allowing kindergarten to grade 9 students to enrol in a mix of bricks and mortar and distance learning courses.

Third, the legislation will clarify that boards of education can charge fees to offset the extra costs associated with international baccalaureate

HSE – 20120426 PM 005/bah/1350

by allowing kindergarten-to-grade-9 students to enrol in a mix of bricks-and-mortar and distance-learning courses. Third, the legislation will clarify that boards of education can charge fees to offset the extra costs associated with international baccalaureate programs.

Furthermore, the legislation requires districts to establish financial hardship policies for students who might otherwise be excluded from these programs.

I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, we first have to move first reading.

Hon. G. Abbott: So moved, Mr. Speaker.

Motion approved.

Hon. G. Abbott: I move it be placed on the orders of the day for consideration at the next sitting of the House after today.

Motion approved.

Draft legislation.


Resource info for BCTF Conference, Nov. 13-14, 2009

I’ll be facilitating a workshop on “What do parents want,” at an upcoming  BCTF conference (Public Education: Protecting our children’s future).  I did something similar a few years ago (click here) and will draw upon some of the same resources.  However, several years later I have a few different ideas.

For one thing, as parents themselves mature along with their children’s progress through school, one’s ideas of what is possible shifts.  Along with such life cycle changes our expectations take on different forms and, one hopes, matures.  The frantic hopes and desires of the kindergarten parent becomes replaced by a more sanguine attitude as our children move through the intermediate grades.  A new bout of anxiety emerges with adolescence and the transition to high school.  And then, if we’ve made it through to grade 12 a healthy sigh of relief as they make the transition into adulthood and hopefully get a chance to live the ups and downs of their own choices in life -fore better or worse.

I look forward to seeing this workshop develop and to meet the different people who will become participants as we explore what it is that parents want for their children in our public schools.

More on Broda

Ron Broda is the BCCPAC’s first male president. He is described as a former police office (having served with the Sanich Police Department.) Prior to his election as BCCPAC history there are only a few brief web traces relating to a truck driving accident: cbc news, Vancouver Sun,, the News, Esquimalt.

Prior to his time on the BCCPAC, Broda was the president of the Sanich Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils during the 2005 BC teacher’s strike. He was first appointed to the position in 2003 when then SCPAC president Tim Dunford was appointed by Christy Clark to the Teachers’ College.

News articles dating to the provincial Liberal Parties’ first term in office (2001-2005) occasionally quote Broda on educational matters of the day from a ‘cookie sale’ on the steps of the legislature to his expectation that a teachers’ walkout was imminent in 2005. More recently, as president of the BCCPAC, Broda has spoken out in support of continued standardized testing (see also, news) and the teachers’ registry.

The BCCPAC web site contains a number of documents that might shed some light on the recent ‘stupid me’ email (see also: Steffenhagen post1, post2) sent by BCCPAC president Ron Broda. Though while they shed light the issue remains hard to fathom from outside the inner circle.

Please note all yellow highlighting was in the original documents and was not added by this blog.

Vancouver School Board Candidates speak at UBC

Ethnographic Film Unit at UBC

The University Neighbourhoods Association hosted an all candidates forum for school board trustees on Oct. 22, 2008 at the Old Barn Community Centre in Hawthorn Place.

The trustees who participated were as follows. From COPE: Al Blakey, Bill Bargeman, Alvin Singh, and Alan Wong. From NPA: Ken Dynike, Carol Gibson, and Heather Holden. From Vision Vancouver: Patti Bacchus, Ken Clement, and Mike Lombardi.

Community members present were asked to fill out an exit survey to identify their top choices of candidates at the meeting and the highpoints of the meeting. Four candidates stood out for audience members from the UNA/UBC area: Patti Bacchus (Vision), Carol Gibson (NPA), Mike Lombardi (Vision), and Alan Wong (COPE). Many positive things were said about all of the candidates who participated.