Uy’skweyul. It is my pleasure to re-introduce our monthly newsletters for the 2019/20 school year. Each month through the school year, The Education Leader will highlight stories related to public education in BC.
We’ve had a busy summer, as I’ve mentioned in previous communications to members. We made several key strides in our advocacy efforts related to member resolutions passed at our annual general meeting. BCSTA will also be signing an updated memorandum of understanding with the Union of BC Municipalities September 26, further solidifying the importance of local governance and representation. In other exciting news, we have created an advocacy toolkit for our member boards to utilize during the federal election. The kit offers a breakdown of critical concerns needing federal support in public education and lays out a road-map for how best to raise those issues with candidates. The kit can be accessed on the BCSTA HUB.
The summer also featured the Canadian School Boards Association’s National Trustee Gathering on Indigenous Education & Annual Congress, hosted this year by the Ontario Public School Boards Association. As always, the event featured valuable conversations and the opportunity to connect and share with peers while focusing on the success of our students and representing the needs of our communities. The 2020 congress and gathering takes place in stunning Banff Alberta next year, and I look forward seeing what the Alberta School Boards Association provides us with in terms of learning and professional development.
Over the past several months BCSTA has been working diligently with the Ministry of Education in advance of the proposed upcoming changes to the BC K-12 Public Education Funding Model. On October 1 there will be a meeting, by invitation of the deputy minister of education, for all organizations that participated in the funding model working groups. The meeting will provide us, and our partners, with an overview of the working group reports as well as a forum for discussion of next steps in the process. BCSTA will update our members with any new and relevant information we learn at this meeting as soon as we are able. We continue to advocate strongly that a significant portion of the October 18 liaison day be dedicated to information sharing and discussion on the funding model review with the key sector partners that will be present.
Behind all the hard work also comes the joy of a new school year, and this is a particularly special year. In early September the Nanaimo News Bulletin ran an editorial I wrote focused on BC’s redesigned curriculum, which will be fully implemented from kindergarten through to Grade 12 this school year. I encourage those of you who have questions about the curriculum to review the article for a brief overview of the changes we are looking at and strategies for staying involved. I also wish to highlight a success story from my own district, as the Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh Community School opened its doors this September. Governed in partnership between the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District and the Snuneymuxw First Nation, the school is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike, and I am incredibly inspired by the sharing of knowledge and traditions that will take place within its walls.
In other news, I am sure you all took a deep sigh of relief when you learned that mediated discussions with the BC Teacher’s Federation would resume this week. BCSTA continues to support BCPSEA in their efforts to bargain a fair and amicable agreement. We remain thankful that there has yet to be any interruption to student services.
Fall is officially here, and we look forward to BCSTA’s upcoming Trustee Academy, which is just around the corner. This year’s keynote speaker Severn Cullis-Suzuki, a notable environmental activist, will be on hand to discuss how we can best educate students for a changing world. More academy details are coming in daily, so please keep and eye on our website for updates. Our members will also be quite busy this October with our board chairs meeting and partner liaison meetings taking place mid-month, followed by our BCSTA Provincial Council (PC) meeting at the month’s end. We’ve received several key motions from members for PC, and I look forward to the debate and discussion that will arise as we advocate for better student outcomes and build upon the successes of the prior school year.
Stephanie Higginson, President, BCSTA