To The British Columbia School Trustees Association

,

A Trustee, according the Merriam Webster Dictionary, is “…one to whom something
is entrusted.” The word Trustee is derived from the word “trust” which, according to
the same dictionary is the “…belief that someone or something is reliable, good,
honest, effective, etc.” Entrenched in the very title of the position, you accepted, is
your role to act on behalf of those that have entrusted you with protecting their
children’s education.

As a parent I would hope that someone, whose very title, calls on them to be
“reliable”, must speak up in times like these. I have not heard very much from school
Trustees. For whatever reason, only a brave few have stood up and voiced their
opinion on this job action. Does this make you reliable? Can parents count on you to
protect what they have entrusted you with?

What about being “good.” If you have been put in place to oversee and protect
something is your inaction “good”? I know as a parent I start to question why a
Trustee would not speak out. When they see their districts falling into debt,
constantly cutting services, would it not be “good” to stand up against such tyranny.
Is it “good” to hold on to some personal belief that you may keep some political
doors open by staying complacent? To sit in the corner with your mouth held closed
because you don’t want to “stir the pot”? Well, as people keep telling teachers, you
took the job and all of the responsibility that comes with it.

How about being “honest”? Are you being “honest”? By keeping quiet and sitting on
the sidelines are you being “honest” about what is happening to public education?
Because, by remaining silent, you are saying that what the government is doing is
alright with you. You are telling the people that have entrusted you with their
children, that below average funding is alright with you, that cutting much needed
programs and services are alright with you, and that increased costs to districts
without a matching increase in funds is alright with you. If you are being “honest” is
this alright with you?

Lastly, is what you are doing “effective”? Are you making the education of the
children entrusted to you better? According to the British Columbia School Trustees
(BCSTA) website “[t]rustees engage their communities in building and maintaining a
school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations.” I would hazard
a guess that most parents would expect that you speak up and demand proper
funding as a priority, a local priority. I would argue that letting things get worse is
not “effective” unless you support the government’s priority, which does not seem
to fit into this statement. I have not heard one parent within my community say,
“below average funding is good, let’s cut more specialist teachers, I love when
apprenticeship programs close down!”
I am however, pretty sure it is part of the government’s mandate to allow the
degradation of public education, to turn parents against teachers, to place stress on
the districts so that they have to cut programs, to put pressure on parents to make
the decision to move to the private system, and to put more public money into the
private system increasing the income gap. By staying silent you are “effectively”
helping this course of action.
As Premier Clark stated in her mandate letter to Education Minister Peter
Fassbender “[t]he only way to secure long-lasting prosperity is to ensure that
private sector investments are welcomed and encouraged in our province. That is
the path we have chosen and that is the path upon which we will continue for the
remainder of our term.” If you don’t stand up against this obvious move to privatize
education, are you being “effective.” Are you protecting the children that you have
been entrusted with? Remember you have a lot of them to protect considering that,
according to Statscan, BC has the highest Child Poverty rate in Canada.

According to the BCSTA’s own “Strategic Priorities” a positive relationship with the
Ministry of Education seems to be number one. However, at this point it seems that
other strategies are being ignored, for example: “Strongly advocate for the statutory,
meaningful involvement of Boards of Education in the K-12 bargaining mandate and
process.” Are you being “effective” in this mandate by remaining silent? What about
your “Core Priorities”? Things like “[i]ncreased predictable, and stable funding for
Boards of Education,” “[s]uccess for all students,” and “engag[ing] media on a
strategic basis.” A “good” and “effective” strategy for engaging media would be to
stand up and explain how increased predictable, and stable funding creates success
for all students.

With the further privatization of education and continued below average funding
will the children entrusted to you have equal opportunity to the best education this
province can provide? Can the parents of you districts count you as someone who is
“reliable”? Is what you are currently doing “good” and “effective”? Now ask yourself,
are you being “honest”? I trust that you will do what is right.

Andrew Turner