When should B.C. public schools accept corporate donations?
That was a hot topic for school trustees recently after Chevron expanded its Fuel Your School program into Canada, offering participating schools $1 for every 30-litre purchase of fuel at its retail outlets.
B.C.’s two largest districts took opposite positions when approached by Chevron: Surrey agreed to participate and received $200,000 for 186 classroom projects; Vancouver declined, thereby losing a chance at $475,000, according to news reports.
Global BC says school boards in North and West Vancouver, Coquitlam and Burnaby as well as some on Vancouver Island are in discussions about future participation in the program.
Chevron isn’t the only corporation that donates money to schools, but its offer has been more controversial than most. Vancouver board chairwoman Patti Bacchus said that’s because the Chevron program had strings attached, including a requirement for teachers to submit their project ideas.
“I think we want to be cautious when there’s a corporate body involved in having an impact or influence on what (teachers are) teaching in classrooms and how they’re doing that,” she told The Tyee. On Twitter, where the issue is also being debated, Bacchus insisted schools have an obligation to keep corporations out of the classroom.
But Surrey board chairman Shawn Wilson said the program offered students and teachers opportunities that might not have been available otherwise. Surrey, like many other school boards, is facing a funding shortfall next year and struggling to balance its budget.
Chevron told the Tyee that no company logos were posted in Surrey schools and it had no control over which projects were approved. In delivering the Fuel My School program, Chevron works with a Canadian charity called My Class Needs, which supports K-12 classroom projects via crowdfunding.
Find more information about that here.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and information presented here does not represent the views of the organization.