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LETTER: A strong voice for Island parents? Maybe not…

sur le fil de presse
sur le fil de presse

P.E.I. Education Minister Doug Currie has reassured us all that members of the District Advisory Committees are a strong voice for Islanders… Well, Mr. Minister, this has not been my experience as a DAC member.

I am part of the problem if the Minister is able to use our Council as a smokescreen for real community and parental representation. We have no power. We don’t represent an electorate. We have no elected chairman nor do we help to determine agenda items even though this was promised within the guidelines. Instead, we have received information from the Public Schools Branch (PSB) on the new bureaucratic model, we have been given academic journal articles on “21st Century Learning” with the goal of answering broad questions predetermined by the PSB, and we have been “briefed” on the Baragar data and the recommendations 30 minutes before each of the last public meetings. It has become obvious to me that we are part of the School Change Process, itself, and help meet government’s need for perceived collaboration.

I would be incorrect to say that we have never been asked to provide feedback, as this was done at the initial meeting as well as at one subsequent meeting held with Minister Currie and deputy minister Willis. This was prior to the start of the School Review Process and many around the table identified issues that are minor in comparison to school closures and reconfiguration.

Asking for feedback without sharing the real context of what is happening within our education system was unfair and underhanded. Don’t insult us by saying that we have a voice.

Many parents on the DAC’s signed up with the excitement and good intentions of helping to shape education. Home and School presidents, high achieving students, and teachers volunteered because they believed that this new model would lead to Better Learning for All. If the Minister wished to improve our system in a meaningful way, would it not have also been necessary to include the opinions of those less engaged within our system? Where is their voice?

Our premier has been very strategic, indeed, with the creation of these three councils. The Principals Council is compromised of staff of the PSB. The Learning Partners Advisory Council is co-chaired by our premier and includes many individuals who are either employed by government, connected to organizations reliant on government funding, or have a vested interest in pre-election promises. Does this take away from their credibility? No. Does this make it more difficult for them to disagree with our premier’s agenda? Absolutely.

The tides are turning. Islanders have caught on to this undemocratic approach and refuse to be controlled. This School Review Process must stop and we need elected School Board Trustees now. Smaller schools must be celebrated, the hub-school model must be explored, and the centralization of our education system needs to stop. You haven’t given us a voice on the DAC’s, Mr. Currie, but we will certainly find our own.

Janet Payne,

Kinkora

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