Jan 8 - Education Policy & Planning Committee Meeting
You can find the agenda for our January 08 meeting here
Our first Education Policy & Planning Committee Meeting as a new Board was packed with some important bits and I’m appreciative of the opportunity to serve as the Committee Chair. What’s unique about these meetings is that they take place in a different school every month, which offers the Board a chance to learn more about what’s going on in each individual school - this month it was Fraser River Middle School.
1. Fraser River Middle School Presentation:
Students presented on some of the exciting and unexpected parts of their recent Indigenous mask project which, to my surprise, was a cross-curriculum journey. I realized then how much our public education system has changed from when I was a student. While we may have done art projects that included some form of math or history, I can’t seem to recall any deliberate effort by our educators to guide us in building, sharing and celebrating those connections. This realization left me impressed with the students as they talked about their experience with the Indigenous mask under the perspectives of arts, social studies, geography and math.
2. Menstrual Initiative:
This is something I’d been wanting to introduce for Board consideration so I was very excited when I saw that Dr. Selina Tribe was already ahead of it. Her call for the installation of coin-free tampon and pad dispensers for all of our schools did not take much convincing - with a Board that includes six women, period woes and the importance of accessible products was definitely something that resonated. The appetite is there and Chair Gifford’s motion requesting staff to report back on how we can make this happen will guide us as we make the final decision at our February operations meeting, so stay tuned!
The comparison made by Dr. Tribe about urinals in boys washrooms was something, as obvious as it is, eye-opening for me. Without question of funding, maintenance or even need, every boys washroom in our schools includes urinals - it is socially accepted and expected for us to provide urinals, an option available only for the convenience of boys. This speaks to the work required with how we view and construct spaces with gender equity in mind. While funding remains a barrier, I see the leadership and desire in our Board to challenge just what the roles and responsibilities of our public education system should be and with thanks to Trustee Connelly’s motion, our Board will be advocating, in support of gender equity, to the Ministries of Education and Health for funding of menstrual products in our public schools.
3. Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement:
Bertha Lansdowne, the District’s Aboriginal Coordinator, presented the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement to the Board. This document was developed in-collaboration with a number of different stakeholders as they charted out a five-year plan that will meaningfully support the academic, social and cultural achievements of the district’s diverse Aboriginal student population.
The path forward will be guided by the following four goals:
• Belonging and culture
The Board also passed a motion by Trustee Gifford to receive the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report, “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future” and commit the District to evaluating and reporting on our progress towards implementing its Calls to Action annually.
4. Special Education Review:
The Board passed a motion proposed by Trustee Russell calling for a comprehensive review of special education services and programs. Concerns regarding equitable access to education have been communicated for a number of years from district-to-district with minimal intervention. With this review, as Trustee Ansari said, our District will have a better understanding of where we’re at to advocate and engage with the Province’s proposed Funding Model Review. The core values of our District and Board revolve around inclusion and I’m glad to see us taking action on this long overdue process. For me, it’s also especially important that our District-wide consultation plan includes specific strategies to meaningfully engage with the different cultural groups that make up New West, in recognition that, historically, these voices have been absent and that their experiences and potential challenges make for a unique perspective that we, as a District, need to account for in our commitment to inclusivity.
Next meeting: January 15, 2019 - Operations Policy & Planning Committee