Do you feel school board policies reflect the values of Central Okanagan communities?
The stated purpose of the district is to “educate students in a safe, inclusive, equitable, and inspirational learning environment where each learner develops the attributes and competencies to flourish in a global community.” District policies are regularly reviewed by the Policy Committee, which includes, trustees and representatives from partner groups, including students, parents, teachers, and support staff. They evaluate policies through the lens of the district cultural values of honesty, respect, responsibility, equity, and empathy. I believe that all communities value their students, so policies that prioritize student achievement and well being absolutely reflect the values of our community.
In what way, if any, are parents not given the opportunity to play a role in their child’s education?
It is difficult to think of a way that parents are not given the opportunity to play a role in their child’s education, starting with the choice of public, independent or home schooling. Parents have rights under the School Act to be informed of their student’s attendance, behaviour, and progress in school. They also have the right to consult with staff in relation to their child’s educational program. In public schools, parents are members of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC), which advises the principals, staff and board on any matter relating to the school. PACs can join the District Parent Advisory Council to advise the district, and the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils to have a provincial voice. From volunteering, PAC involvement, or collaboration with staff, there are multiple opportunities and avenues for parents to play a role in their child’s education.
What is the Central Okanagan School District doing well or not doing well to allow our students to become productive adults?
Transitioning from high school into independent adulthood can be difficult. Traditionally, K-12 education has done little to support that transition. Changes are underway, but it is important to continue expanding upon that work. Our school district provides an excellent academic foundation for post secondary education. Additionally, students can enroll in a wide variety of Dual Credit and Advanced Placement courses through partnerships with Okanagan College, BCIT and UBCO. This allows students to begin their post secondary programs early without the burden of tuition. The Youth Work in Trades Apprenticeship Program aids students in working towards Trades certifications. Academies and Trade Sampler programs allow students to explore a variety of careers including early childhood education, forestry, technology, and emergency medical response. Students have many options available to explore a wide variety of careers. Through continued partnerships these offering will only continue to grow and support students as they venture into adulthood.
What role should our education system play in supporting students facing gender identification issues?
Discrimination should never be a part of the education system. Gender identity and expression are protected under the BC Human Rights Code and the education system is accountable for supporting its students. It is the responsibility of Boards, district staff, administrators, teachers, and support staff to provide inclusive environments where students can thrive regardless of their biological sex or how they express their gender. Inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory practices and policies are integral to supporting students. Schools are meant to provide all students with safe and inclusive environments to learn. Part of education is learning to value diversity and respect differences. It is important that schools and districts foster a sense of belonging for all students.