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Delta group calls for public education reform
The founder of a new Delta-based advocacy group has released its first three policies planks on education reform.
Melanie Anderson, founder of B.C. Partners in Education, said the first policy calls on the B.C. government to adopt “school choice” legislation, which would allow for access to public funding for children to attend schools outside the public system.
Anderson said although she doesn’t want to create a two-tiered system of education, there are many children whose needs aren’t being met in the “traditional brick and mortar setting.”
“I don’t really think it’s the government’s responsibility to tell families how to educate their kids,” she said, adding some children thrive under specialized programs in private or alternate schools.
Anderson said special needs children, which include those on both ends of the spectrum of learning disabled and gifted learners, would benefit from being able to use their per pupil funding allotment toward programs outside the public school system.
The second policy calls for greater authority and flexibility for principals to hire the best fit for the school when bringing on new staff. Anderson said the pool of applicants for a job opening can be greatly reduced by seniority and the teachers’ union.
She said many principals are unaware of past disciplinary matters because they are shielded by the BC Teachers’ Federation.
“How does that really help a principal in hiring the best fit for his school,” she said.
The third policy calls for greater cooperation between provincial ministries, including the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health, among others.
Anderson said better coordination between the health and education ministries could help with issues related to assessments for autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, or learning disabilities.
“It’s really hard to get these assessments done due to wait lists for physicians,” she said, adding collaboration between ministries would streamline the process.
Anderson said the Ministry of Children and Family Development could help address counseling and poverty related issues before they come to the attention of the ministry when the damage is already done.
BC Partners in Education was created to give a voice to parents and community members who are often left out of discussions between the education ministry and the BCTF, explained Anderson.
Delta school board chair Laura Dixon said BC Partners in Education does not operate within the structure of the District’s Parents Advisory Councils (DPAC) and therefore declined to comment on an organization for which she has not received sufficient information.
“Every school has a PAC (Parent Advisory Council) of which every parent is a member,” she said. “Every PAC has a representative to carry a vote at our District PAC and any parent can attend that. The DPAC is a member of BCCPAC (B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils) which is the body that has AGMs (Annual General Meetings) and is the recognized parent voice in the province.”
She added she strongly encourages parental involvement and engagement in the school district and appreciates all of the volunteer contributions that enrich student education.