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Parents urged to lead change in school cultureMay 29, 2014

Author: Webmaster

Systems must change to meet the needs of children. Children shouldn’t be expected to change for the sake of the system.

That was the message delivered to parents Thursday by Steve Cairns, a long-time educator in Burnaby who is now a consultant and was the keynote speaker at the opening of the BCCPAC spring conference.

Schools are ready to make that change, although they may not know it, he said. Parents must push them along while methodically building connections between their children and their schools.

“We are at a tipping point,” he told delegates.

Cairns’ message was based on the “It Takes a Village” theme popularized by Hillary Clinton and he said parents should develop a supportive Network of Aligned Significant Adults (NASA) who share an interest in their children’s development. That network must include teachers, principals and other important adults in their lives.

“An atmosphere of connectedness provides the framework to promote student competency and social responsibility while decreasing anti-social behaviours,” says a statement on the connectzone.org website that he promoted during his speech.

It was a gentle opening for delegates, who have difficult issues on their minds. While the official program doesn’t mention the labour dispute that’s resulted in teachers on picket lines, it will be “the elephant in the room”, president Terry Berting noted in his welcoming address.

He invited parents to make their views known during the conference.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender is scheduled to address the convention and answer questions Friday morning, while Glen Hansman, vice president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), will have a turn at the mike Sunday. (This is a correction. I previously said president Jim Iker would be attending.)

In between, there will be discussions on a range of topics, including school sports, social and emotional learning, school-parent communications, 21st century learning, graduation and student transitions, gaming grants and aboriginal student achievement as well as voting on two dozen resolutions.

The spring conference will meld into the annual general meeting Saturday, at which time delegates will choose a replacement for Terry Berting, who is stepping down after two years at the helm. The two candidates seeking to replace him are Wendy Harris of New Westminster and Nicole Makohoniuk of Vernon. Elections will also be held for a second vice-president, a secretary and two directors.

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