Improving the School Experience for Students

These past four years have left many parents and community members shaking their heads about the state of public education. And who can blame them? There appear to be gaps in information for the public regarding decisions that are made by boards, and some missing details about what is really happening in schools. It is seemingly more difficult for parents and the public to reach the decision-makers, the overarching leaders of the districts – the trustees. It is even more difficult to get an answer back or to feel supported.

This is the first article in this election campaign where I will tackle some of the bigger rocks to be moved for the public.

What does it mean to improve the school experience for students? It means parental involvement, communication, timelines, space, people, services, health including mental health, food security, and much more. How much control does a Board of Education have? Some, a lot, and none. All of those, are dependent on the issue.

Parental involvement is the first matter to address. And to me is the most important, next to the teacher at the front of the classroom. Parents and family are at the heart of a child’s life. Education is responsible for the student – for just 13 years – but we need to recognize that individual child as a whole person, no matter their age or stage in life. Children arrive at the door daily with the rest of their lives trailing next to them. Some of this they get to leave at the door, some of it they don’t.

Recognizing that parental rights are important in the role of a child’s education is the first step toward guaranteeing a child’s success in the classroom. There is a common saying in education that parents are partners in education. What if we viewed it that education is in a partnership with parents? The professionals provide the learning environment and parents determine which professional provider (public or independent or even homeschooling) they will entrust their children with. In fact, that is what does happen; parents shop. We have students in our schools because families choose public education.

I am very cognizant of the role of parents and feel that as a board of education, we have room to improve. All boards do. These past four years have been tough enough for families and community. I am hoping to return to the era where we, all of the district, communicate better and with more empathy.

We are elected by the public to steward the public funds and to act on behalf of the community. Sometimes sandwiched between the function of provincial government and the needs of our community. It is a difficult place to be in, but if it were easy, you wouldn’t need us.

See you next time~

Shirley

Election 2022

MEDIA RELEASE

WILSON, Shirley Seeking Re-Election for 6th Term
Monday, August 29, 2022

Shirley WILSON is seeking to continue her role as an elected trustee for the Abbotsford Board of Education during the 2022-2026 term in the October 15th municipal election.

Wilson, with 17 years of elected service, remains committed to education, families, and community. Dedicated to continued advocacy for the best possible opportunities to prepar students for a lifetime of success, she recognizes the value of experience and corporate knowledge necessary for the district over the next four years.

“Families remain top of mind in my own personal decisions,” says Wilson, “Our community support and recognition of parents as primary educators of their children is vital to educational achievement. I remain committed to our children and families in Abbotsford.”

Wilson believes each student’s success is supported by having the right people in the right places whether that be the teacher in the front of the classroom, principal of school, bus driver, custodian, secretary in the school, senior staff at the board office, or trustee at the table.

Strategic vision and fiscal accountability are cornerstones for the Abbotsford district, with room to improve.

Wilson has always been known as a strong advocate for families whether through her service in the charitable sector or in her elected school trustee position.

With five terms of solid leadership, Wilson is not done advocating for families and community at the board table. In some ways, families are having an even more difficult time advocating for their children – the district’s students – and Wilson is determined to gain more avenues for parental involvement in their children’s education.

Additionally, Wilson is elected as one of seven trustees elected to the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) where she serves as Vice Chair. With 2022 bargaining underway, she continues to bring valued employer experience and Fraser Valley perspective to the human resources and labour relations’ role of trustees.

An Abbotsford Senior Secondary graduate, Wilson’s two children also graduated from the Abbotsford School District.

On the passing of her son Jacob in 2021, Wilson created a financial bursary through the Abbotsford Community Foundation with the first award provided to a future music therapist at the WJ Mouat graduation in June 2022.

Wilson provides event and partnership specialist services to the non-profit sector in the Fraser Valley.

Moving here in 1983 with her family, Wilson enjoys the many opportunities and activities available throughout the community.

Elected in 2005, Wilson has served many roles in the community on behalf of the Board of Education, including two years in the role as Chair, and remains personally active in organizations locally, provincially, and nationally.

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Wilson’s current commitments and contact:

Five-term elected Board of Education Trustee on Abbotsford Board of Education.
Wilson4trustee@gmail.com
778-548-3995

Abbotsford Board of Education has an operating budget of $240 million dollars, serves 20,000 students, employs 2500+ staff, both across 47 school sites, and various support sites.

Current roles:
Trustee, Abbotsford Board of Education
Vice Chair and Fraser Valley Regional Representative, BC Public School Employers’Association (www.bcpsea.bc.ca)
Chair, Board of Education Field Naming Committee (Howe Middle School Turf Fields)
Appointee, Character Abbotsford
Appointee, School District Local Bargaining (Abbotsford Teachers’ Union & Teamsters 35)
Policy Committee (Former Chair)
Finance and Facilities Committee (Former Chair)
Audit Committee (Former Chair)
Education Committee (Former Chair)
For more information please visit https://www.abbyschools.ca/board

External appointments:
Peer Reviewer Imagine Canada (imaginecanada.ca)
ARHCC Patient Family Advocacy Council BC Patient Voices Network
BC Mental Health Substance Use Services Patient Family Experience Council
Abbotsford Character Council
BC 55+ Games (2023)

SOGI and SOGI 123

I apologize for the delay in providing this statement on SOGI and SOGI 123, but here it is!

I find it very frustrating to be asked if I am for or against SOGI. Please read below, and share.  Understand what it is that is being asked.

For clarity, SOGI – sexual orientation and gender identity – is mandated to be included in our Student Code of Conduct, and is as required.  It is embedded our Board Policy 15.  I am not opposed to having the language of the BC Human Rights Code in policy.  And that was the only mandate that Boards of Education received.

It is not a straightforward issue, nor one where most people understand what they might be asking.  Most people have the issues confused about the policy, who and what SOGI  is, what the curriculum is, what the resource is, and what is mandated.

It is combative right now and deemed as anti or pro, and I am disappointed that we can’t have reasonable discussions without claims of bigotry. We need more understanding. The sides are so polarized that if we aren’t careful we will throw the good out with the bad. I think we have to get back to the needs of each unique child.

The SOGI classification is protected, as it should be. The BC curriculum does not contain SOGI outcomes. The SOGI 123 resource is not mandated. There are parts of the resource where I take issue, but we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. So – I can’t say for or against SOGI unless I consider the intent of the question. I am inclusive, for all children, each child, and I recognize we are not in a black and white world.

I don’t think SOGI 123 is the only resource we can look to, anymore than I think Math Makes Sense is the be-all-end-all for match curriculum.  However, there are some appropriate references in the resource (not the whole thing) that are worth reviewing.

We have few other resources available, and need to have more on this very important and sensitive topic. Our Board has not had a curricular resource review for some time. As such, the current Board has not formally reviewed the content, under AP 210 which aligns with Minsterial Policy for Learning Resources.

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/administration/legislation-policy/public-schools/learning-resources

Inclusion, safety of students and staff, and understanding the facts, is always part of my stance in public education.  If a teacher sends home math curriculum, send home social studies and science. Send it all, hide nothing.  The system needs to include parents in the education of their own children. Parents need to communicate with the classroom teacher and principal of the school in a respectful two way communication. Your children, our students.

 

 

Thank you

Tonight marks my 5th inauguration to the Abbotsford Board of Education.

Thank you to my voters, to my friends, my supporters, and in particular, to my family.

An inauguration – once you have had your second, is a passing of one point of service to the next. Moving from one term to the next.  It is not entirely contiguous: it is also transitioning. It is a time to reflect, adjust, and forge ahead.

Over the course of four terms I served the life of k-12 student – a full 13 years.  And now I will serve four more years. Seems like a lifetime. And yet, sometimes I feel like I am just beginning.  So many things change but yet, stay the same.

I have served with 13 trustees over the years, and some now moved on to do other things. At least two deserve some recognition in this election.

Cindy Schafer – Cindy and I were first elected together in 2005.  She has made the bold decision to move on to focus on her business full time.  She jokingly called it her work to support her ‘School Board habit’.  She also will spend more time with family. Good for Cindy.  She impacted many lives over her time of 13 years, including individual students and families. She served well and with commitment. She will be missed at the table.

Korky Neufeld – Korky was also first elected in 2005.  He took a term to pursue other interests but has since returned. Once he finishes this term, he too will have served the life of a k-12 student. Nice to have him back.

Others include (former mayor) George Peary, Sat Gill (sitting between those two dynamos was so very interesting!), Gerda Fandrich (a lady in her own right), Joanne Field (tireless advocate), Uultsje de Jong (still pursuing justice for all), and John Sutherland.  While all these folks have moved on, they have shaped our direction today.

Welcome back to Preet Rai, Stan Petersen, Rhonda Pauls, Freddy Latham and Phil Anderson.

The public gave me one more term to provide governance and leadership in education. I am not done my service to you.  I will continue to advocate for parents and students.

I offer congratulations to Stan Petersen and Rhonda Pauls in their new roles as Chair and Vice Chair respectively.

As I continue to represent the public at the Board of Education table, your concerns, tax payer dollars, and our community will be in the fore of my decisions. Thank you for your trust.

~Shirley

French Immersion

Responses From School Board Candidates from SD 34 – Abbotsford

Dear Members and Supporters,

To help you make an informed decision as you go vote Saturday Oct 20 we sent all the School Board Candidates a short survey.

Below are the questions and the responses we received by the deadline. Please share this email with others in your community.

This is an important opportunity to help elect school trustees who value and prioritize French second language programs.

Here are the responses we received in order: 

Q1. Do you support French immersion?

Mike Battel: Yes. ✔️

Graham Evan Macdonell: Yes. ✔️

Shelley Godwin: Yes. ✔️

Freddy Latham: Yes. ✔️

Korky Neufeld: Yes. ✔️

Raj Patara: Yes. ✔️

Rhonda Pauls: Yes. ✔️

Stan Petersen: Yes. ✔️

Jared White: Yes. ✔️

Shirley Wilson: Yes. ✔️

Q2. Do you believe all children should have access to the French immersion program, where numbers warrant?

Mike Battel: Yes. ✔️

Graham Evan Macdonell: Yes. ✔️

Shelley Godwin: Yes. ✔️

Freddy Latham: *No answer given.

Korky Neufeld: Yes. ✔️

Raj Patara: Yes. ✔️

Rhonda Pauls: Yes. ✔️

Stan Petersen: Yes. ✔️

Jared White: Yes. ✔️

Shirley Wilson: Yes. ✔️

Q3. Will you strive to expand French immersion programs to keep up with parental demand?

Mike Battel: Yes. ✔️

Graham Evan Macdonell: Yes. ✔️

Shelley Godwin: Yes. ✔️

Freddy Latham: Yes. ✔️

Korky Neufeld: Yes. ✔️

Raj Patara: Yes. ✔️

Rhonda Pauls: Yes. ✔️

Stan Petersen: Yes. ✔️

Jared White: Yes. ✔️

Shirley Wilson: Yes. ✔️

Q4. What strategies do you support to address the French teacher shortage?

Mike Battel: “Continuing to incentivize French Speaking teachers to Come to BC. If we need to expand out of Canada to other French speaking nations, we should also do so.”

Graham Evan Macdonell: “Seeking more funding from the Ministry for capital projects to build more classroom space to facilitate hiring more teachers in all areas including French Immersion.”

Shelley Godwin: “There needs to be more recruitment of teachers educated in Quebec and from French-speaking regions of Canada.”

Freddy Latham: *No answer given.

Korky Neufeld: “Continue to lobby post-secondary institutions in BC to increase French Teacher training. Create creative affordable living packages to attract Teachers from other provinces.”

Raj Patara: “I think we need to start advocating for universities to bring in programs at a degree level in French studies. Give students the option.  There are not many options at the University level. My niece is taking the graduates studies program in French at University of Toronto. However, she had to travel to Toronto to take the program. I also think we would need to make the wages for a french immersion teacher more competitive to attract those individuals that could continue teaching the language.”

Rhonda Pauls: “1) HR teams that travel to other places and advertise/ recruit/hire/assist in placement to support our need here. 2) Ongoing communication and promotion with our post secondary institutions around our need for French immersion teachers.”

Stan Petersen: “Our HR department travels across Canada to recruit French teachers. We need to develop and encourage local programs that result in qualified French teachers.”

Jared White: “In BC, one of the issues is that our teachers don’t get paid well enough compared to the national average. This problem is exacerbated by the high cost of housing here in the Fraser Valley. School Trustees need to be advocates for more funding so we can attract more teachers both French and English.”

Shirley Wilson: “The shortage is both in our district and provincially.  I support actively recruiting from other provinces and outside Canada.  Sending specialty recruiters is a good idea.  Offering letters of permission where necessary.  Continuing to work with post secondary institutions to increase seats in education programs.”

Q5. How would you involve parents as stakeholders in discussions around expanding and improving the quality of FSL programming?

Mike Battel: “Parent-teacher interviews are a great place to have another opportunity to speak about the parents needs and wants. Every enrolled student should have their parents email on file and all communication may be sent out and communicated back this way.”

Graham Evan Macdonell: “Forums  and consultation meetings.”

Shelley Godwin: “Public meetings, information sessions, surveys.”

Freddy Latham: “Through collaboration within Disrict FSL staff, teachers and parents.  Expanding programs has challenges around classroom space with capacity enrolment in a number of schools.  We are also experiencing an FSL teacher shortage.  Our school district values these programs continues to support them.”

Korky Neufeld: “1) Have entrance and exit interviews or surveys for all French Immersion parents and students. 2) Continue round table discussions with all stakeholders regarding expansion.”

Raj Patara: “I think we would need to show parents the value of French immersion.  Knowing the second language of Canada, being French not only helps you in careers in government, but it broadens your opportunities for better jobs in the future.  Having parents speak about the benefits of your child learning french could change the conversation.  We all want our children to have tools that could help them broaden their attractiveness in the real world.”

Rhonda Pauls: “1) Online surveying; 2) topical round table discussions with district staff and board of education; 3) encouragement of direct dialogue with staff and board members around ideas for improvement of the system.”

Stan Petersen: “We have an advisory program in our District.”

Jared White: “My entire platform is centred around listening to and engaging parents. If the issue of FSL programming is important to parents of my community, I will do my best to represent that on the School Board. I believe, with modern technology, many great opportunities​ exist to poll parents on a variety of topics including this one.”

Shirley Wilson: “Currently our district has a modern languages committee, but no district helping teacher. Replacing the position is a first start. Then hosting an FSL specific stakeholder meeting to hear from those affected.

Q6. Anything else you would like to add?

Mike Battel: “French immersion is a great program that I am hoping to take advantage of for my children. It has become much more popular and not everyone who wishes to take part may, but hopefully with some new staff in the areas we need soon, everyone who wishes to take part may.”

Graham Evan Macdonell: “The importance of being not only bilingual in today’s world but being trilingual if not poly-lingual.”

Shelley Godwin: *No answer given.

Freddy Latham: *No answer given.

Korky Neufeld: “The main issue is quality French teachers, this is a national issue which needs national attention and strategy. Lobby the Canadian Associations -Universities, School Boards, Government National and Provincial, etc.”

Raj Patara: “I’m a huge advocate for french immersion, I will be putting my child in the french immersion school here in Abbotsford, I would implore all families to think about the benefits of knowing Canada’s second language.”

Rhonda Pauls: *No answer given.

Stan Petersen:“My three children were in French Immersion in the Abbotsford School District. Two of them graduated from the program. I see great benefits to students from the program.”

Jared White: “One of the problems I see is that French is not being taught very effectively in English speaking schools. In my mind, there should be at least one dedicated French-speaking​ teacher in each School who is responsible for the teaching French as a second language.”

Shirley Wilson: “This is a difficult position that our district finds ourselves in, where since FSL began we have not experienced such a shortage.  We understand this is not the only teaching designation to experience shortages. What is important to understand is that FSL is a choice for families, and important to provide the program to retain students in a competitive education environment.  As an FSL parent, I am fully in support of meeting the demands for the program.”

Polls are open Saturday from 8am –  8pm.

Click here to find out how and where to vote.

Historically School Board Elections have relatively low voter turnout.

This means a handful of voters can make a huge difference.

Every vote will make a difference. 

Thank you for helping to create wonderful life-changing educational experiences for all young students in Vancouver.

Sincerely,

Glyn Lewis

Executive Director, Canadian Parents for French BC & YK

All candidates statement

Good evening, and thank you to the Abbotsford District Parent Advisory Council for hosting our All Candidates meeting. This is my 5th all candidates meeting in four terms, and this, my fifth election.  All hosted by DPAC.

I want to start with SOGI and SOGI 123. It is indeed contentious. There are two common issues in the battle – protect my rights, protect my child. Consider it done.

But… SOGI being the primary issue in this election causes me concern. Trustees have other very significant issues on the horizon. Changes to the funding model causing concern on how taxpayer dollars – your dollars are being delivered back to the local community through your local Board of Education.

Local and provincial bargaining. Over capacity in schools. Seismic upgrades. Capital funding. So much more.

But here is what is on my mind for the next four years. Parents as customers, and greater communication.

Student success remains my top issue. How do we keep that front of mind? For Abbotsford, that means keeping students in front of all our decisions. It also means that we put some teeth behind our comments that parents are partners in education. In fact, I would say that our system should recognize our experts (educators, leadership, support staffs) in education as the partners to the parents.  And parents should remain the primary and consistent educators of their own children, the children who happen to be our students.

I encourage you to please take the time to really understand the issues. Ensure you support the candidates who support your child – no matter where they come from or where they want to belong – and that the bigger picture is considered.

Vote for experience and trust.

Vote for informed candidates.

My 13 years serving you is meaningful. Please support me to give you four more years. Vote for Wilson, bottom of the ballot, top of your list on October 20th

ADTA questions

ADTA Trustee Candidate Questionnaire

(Abbotsford District Teachers Association, a member of the BCTF)

  1. Although the restored collective agreement language provides for defined student/teacher ratios and class size and composition limits, these limits have not been met in all instances in the District. What ideas do you have for the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers to resolve this predicament?

Thank your for the question.  It is, as you are aware, a complex matter and question.

Retention is less of an issue as educators are particularly happy to work in Abbotsford, and in our school district.  Many teachers who have worked elsewhere, but live in Abbotsford, have returned.

Annually, during our Board hosted Long Term Service recognition dinner, it is evident that most of our staff have started and remained in our district for many, many years.

Recruitment is ongoing both at the local level and at the provincial level. Our Human Resources department works hard, including time over the summer, to bring educators to our districts. The provincial government and BCSPEA (Make A Future) are actively engaged in recruitment on behalf of Boards.

  1. What initiatives do you think could be implemented to reduce physical and verbal violence against school district employees?

We all recognize this is a serious issue and we all have to work together to create solutions.  There is no short answer or one size fits all solution.

  1. How can trustees ensure that the leadership in Abbotsford schools reflects the diversity of our community?

Continuing to develop leadership internally.  We provide mentorship, leadership opportunities, and personal growth supports for those interested in becoming a leader.  We believe in choosing the best person for the job, ensuring the right person is in the right place.

  1. What is your position on the SOGI 123 curriculum? Why?

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify that SOGI 1 2 3  is not part of, nor mandated in, the BC Ministry of Education curriculum.  Please see wilson4trustee.wordpress.com for more information.

  1. What role does an elected trustee have in directing senior district management?

This Board of Education has a specific role, through policy and as the employer, in directing the Superintendent and Secretary Treasurer, and all staff through these two positions.

  1. Recently, other BC school trustees have argued that the public-school system continues to be chronically underfunded and that the provincial government ought to cut public funding to private schools. Do you agree? Why?

I fully support public funding to private schools. In our community, many families have children in both public and in private. Economically, it makes sense.

  1. Over the past year learning services teachers, counselors, and other non-enrolling teachers have been pulled away from their work with at-risk and marginalized students to act as TTOCs. What direction would you give senior management to ensure that students are provided with the level of supports outlined in the collective agreement?

We have just completed the first year of putting the restored language into practice, per the provincial collective agreement, as we build toward the future.  Both parties were, and are, well aware it would be a challenge, and yet we both worked hard toward the future.  We are currently working within the jointly agreed remedies and committees to ensure we reach the best level of support for students in the classroom.

  1. Given that school trustees in other districts often make public statements defending or challenging various issues of concern over educational issues in the province, what do you believe to be your responsibility as a trustee in declaring individual opinion to the public?

Under policy, as Chair, I am to uphold the decision of the Board.  My voice is that of the Board. At the Board table, I provide my own opinion.

  1. What role can trustees play in supporting successful local negotiations during the upcoming round of bargaining? How will you commit to advocating for local bargaining that is respectful and productive?

Local Boards of Education, as the employer, set the expectations for local negotiations involving non monetary and local-only matters. It is an expectation that bargaining will be respectful and productive.  Negotiating is with a bargaining team, and a representative of the Board likely will be at the table, as in past practice.

  1. Teachers have had minimal raises over the past two decades and have fallen behind the rest of Canada. Trustees on the other hand have voted themselves regular raises in keeping with provincial averages. How would you lobby on the teachers’ behalf to support a pay increase?

I find the question more of a provincial question.  The mandate for the money, and for the term of the agreement, is determined by the province and is out of the hands of the local Board.

  1. School district #34 has an operating surplus of tens of millions of dollars while concurrently schools are being forced to turn students away from their catchment schools due to lack of facilities. What processes should trustees put in place to ensure that the educational needs of students are given priority over spending on the things such as construction of a new board office or another wage increase for trustees?

I am unclear as to where the figure for our operating surplus “of tens of millions of dollars” is derived. It is inaccurate.

This number, more accurately, is projected to be just over $5million for the 2019-20 school year.

Capital is not to be confused with operating surplus.  Capital funding for facilities is completely in the purview of the provincial government, based on our ability to create a strong plan and a demonstrated need. Please visit www.abbyschools.ca for a copy of the Long Term Facilities Plan.

Regarding trustee indemnity (what you refer to as a wage increase for trustees) is approved by the outgoing Board for the incoming Board, with attention to the report provided by an arm’s length ad hoc committee.  In this current term, in the last two of the four year term, trustees were provided a 2.75% overall total increase.  The first two were zero and zero.

  1. How do you plan to remain current with what is happening in schools and classrooms?

I intend to continue to listen to those who are involved at the local school level.

ARPA FVE Questions

Dear school trustee candidate,

On behalf of the Fraser Valley East chapter of the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA FVE), we would like to thank you for putting your name forward as a candidate for school trustee in Abbotsford. Regardless of the outcome of the election, your campaign helps ensure that our democracy remains vibrant and that the citizens of Abbotsford have the opportunity to elect municipal candidates who represent their values.

ARPA FVE is a local chapter of a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization which seeks to equip Reformed Christians to be knowledgeable and active in the public square. One of the ways that we fulfill this mandate is to compile voting guides for federal, provincial and municipal elections; we distribute the results of these voting guides to our membership to provide them with information about local candidates running for school trustee. Having such information about local candidates greatly encourages individuals to vote, particularly in municipal elections which historically have a much lower turnout rate than federal or provincial elections.

This quick questionnaire provides you with an opportunity for several hundred voters to get to know you and your positions on the issues which are most important to them. We hope that you will take the time respond to the following five questions and email your responses back by October 5.

Thank you in advance for your time. We wish you God’s blessings in your campaign.

Questions for Abbotsford School Board Trustee Candidate

Question 1: Please tell us a little bit about yourself personally: who are you? Why are you running for school board trustee? What experiences have you had that qualifies you to serve in this capacity?

I am Shirley, mother of two – a favourite daughter and a favourite son. I am the youngest of ten – seven girls and three boys. I made Abbotsford my permanent home in 1994.

I was born and raised in Dawson Creek on a large farm in the rural region of the South Peace. My k-11 education happened in this region, but in 1983 my parents moved to Abbotsford to retire.  I attended Abbotsford Senior for my grade 12 year. I am proud to be UFV alumna.

Both my children have graduated from Abbotsford public schools.

I was first elected to the Abbotsford School Board (now Board of Education) in 2005 and have served a full four elected terms for a total of 13 years – the life of a k-12 student.

I have held many active roles in education, both prior and during my terms, including that I am also elected from within the 60 Boards to my position of Director (Fraser Valley) BC Public School Employers’ Association Board of Directors.

I am including my media release for your information.  More details can also be found on wilson4trustee.wordpress.com where you will also be able to view my employment.

Question 2: Please tell us a little bit about your policy stances: in your opinion, what issues should be prioritized in your school district and how would you address these issues if you were elected?

Student Success

Capital funding, easing capacity pressures

2019 bargaining – all local and provincial collective agreements

Parental  engagement

Community engagement

Communications

As the governors of education it is incumbent on us to ensure we have the best staffs, buildings, resources, and access to educational achievement for our students – your children.

We need to provide safe learning environments for each student in our care.

We steward over $220 million dollars of tax payer dollars and should not take this lightly. In fact, we take it very seriously.  Finance is on almost every agenda for our meetings.  This includes committee meetings and planning sessions.

Understanding what happens in our buildings and within our operations provides a reasonable understanding of how our decisions impact the system. Having a long term strategic plan with dollars to support our direction, with Student Success being our most important outcome, I approach all decisions with that lens.

Ultimately, parents are the primary educators of our students.  As stakeholders in the system parent groups (PAC, DPAC) have a similar role in the consultation process as do other stakeholders and employee groups.  As parents, they have a very defined role in their child’s education, including participating in and being informed about the experience of their child(ren) in the classroom, in the school.

Question 3: Effective December 2016, the BC government requires that references to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) be incorporated throughout elementary and high school policy. Do you support or oppose the implementation SOGI into school policy? Would you support the promotion of SOGI into school curricula?

To your first question – implementation of SOGI into school policy…. Clarity – SOGI is to be part of the Student Code of Conduct, and is as required.  It is embedded our Board Policy 15.  I am not opposed to having the language of the BC Human Rights Code in policy.  And that was the only mandate that Boards of Education received.

It is not a straightforward issue, nor one where most people understand what they might be asking.  Most people have the issues confused about the policy, who and what SOGI  is, what the curriculum is, what the resource is, and what is mandated.

It is combative right now and deemed as anti or pro, and I am disappointed that we can’t have reasonable discussions without claims of bigotry. We need more understanding. The sides are so polarized that if we aren’t careful we will throw the good out with the bad. I think we have get back to the needs of each unique child.

The SOGI classification is protected, as it should be. The BC curriculum does not contain SOGI outcomes. The SOGI 123 resource is not mandated. There are parts of the resource where I take issue, but we can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. So – I can’t say for or against SOGI unless I consider the intent of the question. I am inclusive, for all children, each child, and I recognize we are not in a black and white world.

I don’t think SOGI 123 is the only resource we can look to, anymore than I think Math Makes Sense is the be-all-end-all for match curriculum.  However, there are some appropriate references in the resource (not the whole thing) that are worth reviewing.

We have few other resources available, and need to have more on this very important and sensitive topic. Our Board has not had a curricular resource review for some time. As such, we have not reviewed the content, under AP 210 which aligns with Minsterial Policy for Learning Resources.

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/administration/legislation-policy/public-schools/learning-resources

Inclusion, safety of students and staff, and understanding the facts, is always part of my stance in public education.  If a teacher sends home math curriculum, send home social studies and science. Send it all, hide nothing.  The system needs to include parents in the education of their own children. Parents need to communicate with the classroom teacher and principal of the school in a respectful two way communication. Your children, our students.

Question 4: In certain circumstances, the wishes of a school and its faculty may conflict with the wishes of the students’ parents. For example, parents and teachers may differ on what or how their children are taught at school. In your opinion, who has the ultimate responsibility for educating children?

Parents are the primary educators of children. See above.

Question 5: The rise of school shootings in the United States and the stabbing of two students in an Abbotsford school in 2016 have both led to fears about school safety. How would you ensure that students remain safe from such incidents?

I find it difficult to view your question, and then answer it.  You are asking about students under the care of people I serve with.

What I know for sure, is that there were more heroes than villians in this situation.  And that the parents of both these girls may read this.  And that not enough time has passed for their comfort, nor for the others who were directly involved.

Has every district deemed itself capable of such precautions?  I would like to know. Because I know no one else has.

 

Sex Ed in the Classroom

As promised, when a question is asked and will be published, I provide my answers to you via this site.  Consider it a form of accountability so that my answers are here, in print, and in their entirety.  I will not use names but in some cases organizations will be identified.

**Edit (October 4th) – please visit my blog post on SOGI and SOGI 123 for further information.**

My answer is first, with question and preamble below.

Dear xxxx,
Thank you for your email and sorry for the delay.
Sex education is part of our k-12 education program.  Under legislation and ministerial policy (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/administration/legislation-policy/public-schools/alternative-delivery-in-the-physical-and-health-curriculum) we offer the option for alternate delivery.
SOGI 123 is a curricular resource, and in our community, not a popular one.
Under legislation, parents and students have the right to opt for alternative delivery of sex ed..  For those who want greater to access to information, parents and students, SOGI 123 is available online.  The Foundry in Abbotsford is also a great resource.

 

The question and preamble was:

My name is xxxxxx from Community Based Research Centre. I am contacting you today regarding your candidacy in the upcoming BC elections. Specifically, I would like to know your stance on SOGI 1 2 3: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity 1 2 3 (www.sogieducation.org).You may have noticed that some candidates in BC are opposed to bettering sex education in classrooms. As a School Trustee candidate in the upcoming BC municipal election, you are uniquely positioned to take a stance on this important issue.

My team and I are working on a campaign called Sex Ed is Our Right (sexedisourright.ca) which advocates for more inclusive sexual health education for youth in BC. After consultations with more than 600 youth in BC, it is evident that youth are demanding more inclusive, accurate, and relevant sexual health education.

As part of this campaign, we are promoting the SOGI 1 2 3 initiative which aims to provide teachers with better sex education resources that is inclusive of all genders and sexualities. As well, we are using our website and social media to promote candidates who are in favour of continuing the important work that SOGI is bringing to classrooms.

Please respond to this email and let us know if we can publish your name as a candidate who is in support of SOGI. It would also be helpful if you could pass along the attached pdf document to other folks in your network who are candidates or may know candidates, and are also in support of SOGI.

We will be publishing and boosting this list on our social media platforms. We require your response by Wednesday, October 3rd.

 

 

 

 

ARTSVOTE BC

See below for my responses to the ARTSVOTE BC 

http://www.artsvotebc.ca/candidates-survey/2018/9/26/shirley-wilson 

Name

Shirley Wilson

Jurisdiction

Abbotsford

Running for

School Board

Party or Slate (if applicable)

n/a

Funding

Do you know how much your local government invests in the arts? Would you commit to advocating for an increase in that cultural investment for arts, culture, and heritage in your community, within the capacity of your elected body?

Two questions here. One – our local government has a small budget for the arts, providing a home for the Arts Council as well as funding the Reach Gallery and Museum – a civic facility. No public art funding is provided. Two – I would (and have) advocated for more cultural dollars both in our schools and in our public.

Advocacy

If elected, will you take an active role on behalf of your local government in championing the growth of arts, culture and heritage in your community? Why?

Yes, I would, and have, taken an active role in championing the growth of arts, culture, and heritage in your community. I believe we need these in our community to encourage public engagement creating a better, more positive community.

Education

Students with an education rich in the arts have better grade point averages and are three times more likely to get a degree. Will you commit to making the arts a critical component of every child’s education? If so, how?

Of course! My own children, between the two, play 11 instruments. My daughter is an award winning photographer – a passion supported by a dedicated teacher in her high school. It is difficult in the daily school timetable to make arts mandatory. Instead, we integrate the arts into education. We have two Integrated Arts schools serving k-12. The revised curriculum offers further integration opportunities for students, which I fully support.

Cultural Growth

How will your local government maintain or grow its investment in cultural programs in your community?

I am unsure of what our local Mayor and Council will do, but the Abbotsford Board of Education will continue to support the passions and educational motivation of students in our schools. We consider the attributes of teachers we hire into our district, and endeavour to ensure talented trained staff are in our schools.

Cultural Spaces

Will you work to ensure access to affordable, sustainable cultural spaces for artists and arts organizations? If so, how?

Within the school district, we encourage schools visit our local arts and heritage facilities. We provide schools the discretion they need to meet the educational outcomes for our students. Most of our schools have an artist in residence, music, art, and drama programs. We have the most Fine Arts Scholarships in the province. We need to ensure this is available in all schools.

Cultural Tourism

How do you propose to improve cultural tourism in your community?

We make it possible for all schools to access field trips to local cultural facilities. Information is provided to parents, as well.

How do you propose to attract or retain artists and cultural workers in your community?

We continue to support trained talented staff, and support schools for artists in residence.

Key Issues

What do you feel is the single most important issue relating to arts, culture, and heritage in your community, and what action will you take to address it?

There is community apathy for arts and heritage in Abbotsford. It is not a matter of ‘build it and they will come’. It is important to share the passion. Much happens in our community but in pockets. As a leader I will continue to advocate for and attend local events. Spread the word.

Participation

How do you personally engage in the cultural life of the community? (e.g. involvement on committees, attending arts and culture events, etc.)

Attending venues, events, exhibits, and activities. I share my experiences on social media.

Additional Information

If you’d like to provide voters with additional information about your stance on arts, culture, and heritage issues in your community, please use the space below.

I am fully supportive of arts, culture and heritage in Abbotsford. I think as a community we need to do more, provide more, attend more, and expand more. We need to cultivate the interests of the apathetic as to grow greater interest locally for local artisans. I think we are headed the right direction, recognizing the small pockets of talent across the community. I believe our own individual leadership in supporting the arts, heritage and culture will assist in creating a viable presence in the broader community. Not just talk, but doing.