Support for sweeping change in B.C. public schools was the highlight of the BCCPAC annual general meeting last weekend, president Nicole Makohoniuk said.
Delegates approved a resolution, proposed by the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) that directs BCCPAC to lobby for “systemic and cultural change” to create an environment where all children have an opportunity to reach their full potential.
Makohoniuk said the resolution supports the Classroom Resources Framework, developed by VCPAC and endorsed by BCCPAC as a way of ensuring that schools have sufficient resources to address all students’ needs, as identified by teachers in consultation with parents and other school staff.
BCCPAC is striving to bring all education partners together to develop this new model, noting that the intention is to provide much-needed resources for needs that are not recognized under the existing funding formula, and not to reduce or terminate other funding channels.
VCPAC president John Bird said discussions to develop the framework more fully are underway with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
The next step will be a pilot project, he noted.
But successful implementation of the framework requires significant cultural change so that schools will concentrate on students’ talents and assets rather than their deficiencies. That means moving from a system that uses punishments and rewards to “fix” students to one that encourages self-regulation, Bird said.
“We now know that when students are able to self-regulate their learning progresses much faster than when we try to control their behaviour using carrots and sticks,” he said, adding that the goal is to sustain their passion for learning and build on their strengths.
A companion resolution, which was also approved by delegates, instructs BCCPAC to lobby government for sufficient funding to support these proposed changes, noting that when education reforms fail, it is usually because there is not enough money for materials or time for teachers to plan.
Other resolutions approved at the meeting include four that received unanimous support. One directed BCCPAC to insist on an immediate and significant increase in school district grants in accordance with five recommendations from the legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.
The other three that won unanimous support call for standards and regulations for special education assistants and for the creation of government policy to prevent retribution against students or parents who express concerns to schools or school districts.
Delegates also passed resolutions calling on the provincial government to:
– Reduce funding for independent schools. (This resolution was amended to remove a clause that called for a reduction in funding for special-needs students attending those schools.)
– Cover the full cost of playground equipment for new and replacement elementary and middle schools.
– Allow students to select and use their preferred gender and name on district documentation and in the classroom.
– Fund seismic upgrades by 2020 for all schools deemed at high risk in the event of an earthquake.
(The last three resolutions can be found here.)
Elections during the weekend meeting also resulted in changes to the BCCPAC board of directors. Farah Shroff of Vancouver was elected first vice-president while Shelley Courtney from Central Okanagan was elected as a new director and Darlene Campbell of Prince George was re-elected director.
Kendra Mann from Kootenay Lake was re- elected secretary and Gordon Byers from Chilliwack was elected treasurer.
BCCPAC extended its thanks to departing board members John Puddifoot , Bonnie Krisher and Susan Wilson for their dedication and years of service.