The Capital News asked the Kelowna trustees candidates to answer a series of questions about issues facing the Okanagan School District.
Do you feel school board policies reflect the values of Central Okanagan communities?
The primary focus of schools is to educate. When a school board focuses on social issues to the detriment of basic educational issues, they’ve lost the emphasis on their primary function: to educate. When youth are passed through the school system and graduate Grade 12, yet struggle to read or write and have poor math skills, we have failed them. We should be focused on developing leaders for the future, not pushing children through the system that doesn’t deliver the most basic elements of a proper education. A growing number of parents do not support many of the policies the current school board has pursued. When the voices and concerns of those parents are ignored, they make the only choice left to them, which is to remove their children from the public school system and either home school or enroll them in private schools.
In what way, if any, are parents not given the opportunity to play a role in their child’s education?
The primary responsibility to educate and nurture children belongs to parents, NOT teachers or the school. When parents have concerns, they can and should bring them to their teacher first, and then the principal and superintendent. If they are not getting satisfactory answers or feel their concerns are not being heard, (I’ve heard horror stories of parents being told to “shut-up,” “it’s policy, there is nothing they can do…) many parents simply give up. This is unacceptable. When parents have concerns, they must be heard and their concerns must be addressed. Unfortunately, with the economy in dire straights, many parents hold multiple jobs just go make ends meet. This keeps them from being as involved as they would like with PAC or DPAC, and from volunteering to be part of their child’s education. Also, not everyone feels comfortable in these roles, nor do they have time to for these activities.
What is the Central Okanagan School District doing well or not doing well to allow our students to become productive adults?
The foundation of becoming a productive adult is learning the essential skills of reading, writing and arithmetic along with social skills grounded in respect, both for themselves and others. While we all have inalienable rights, those rights come with responsibilities. This includes treating each other with dignity, because today’s graduates will be our future leaders, doctors, nurses and teachers. The Central Okanagan School District boasts of being the leader in educating and caring for the students, yet too many students graduate without these essential skills. This failure leads to low self-esteem issues and all the problems that can develop as a result.These young people are being left behind. They lack the basic coping skills required to participate fully in society because our school system is more concerned with graduating rates than functional, productive adults.
What role should our education system play in supporting students facing gender identification issues?
The role of schools is to educate. The school, including teachers and administrators, must support the family, as the child’s primary educational responsibility belongs to parents. Health, both physical and mental, is also the primary responsibility of patents, and this responsibility must be respected.