Chatelech Secondary Graduation Speech June 25,2014

I had the pleasure of attending the Chatelech Graduation ceremonies on behalf of the Board on Wednesday evening.

Here’s my speech to the Grads.

***
Family and friends, honoured guests, staff, community members,
Graduates.

It is with great honour that I bring you greetings and congratulations on behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast. As trustees, we are so very proud of all of our students and their successes, many of which we get to celebrate this week – graduation.
As trustees, it our students that drive us to better for you all.

Chatelech is home of the Eagles. The Eagle is a fitting mascot for this school. From its physical location, perched on a cliff in the trees, to the nesting support of the incredibly dedicated teachers and staff that protect, nurture and guide you on your educational journey that allows you all to soar in the great sky.

You are an amazing group. I know but a few of you personally, but I have witnessed your great talents and prowess for the boardroom. We hear of the athletic achievements, the academic successes, of the kind hearts and great leadership.

As a Board, we thank you for lending us one of your own to become one of us, sitting at the governance table to give Students voice in their education. Maya, it has been a true delight to have you as a colleague and watch and support you as you have advocated for your peers and successors in our province and across our country.
Thank you Maya.

So, what’s next? I know that you have all been asked this question at least once. Is it university, work, or are you going to find an air current and glide?
The great thing about being an Eagle is that you can choose.
You can soar as high as you wish and with your strong wings you will fly far.

We are so proud of you all, watching as you spread your wings away from us: your family and friends, your teachers, the community that has watched you hatch in to these beautiful magnificent beings.

Please know that your nest on the Sunshine Coast will still always welcome you home.

E-NOUGH

So here we are.

The last week of school marks the second week of a full out strike by the BC Teachers Federation.

Lock out dates by the employer for secondary teachers start on June 25, and for elementary teachers later this week.

Exams for senior secondary students have gone through but due to the complexities of marking, the essay portions were dropped.

Graduation ceremonies have been moved to alternate locations due to picket lines.

The finger pointing continues.

The impasse more entrenched than ever.

Rhetoric bouncing back and back between the government and teachers’ union through social media channels, the mainstream media and duelling press conferences is wearing thin on us all. This has become a full out political assault on either side as they seek to discredit each other and gain the public’s support.

One of the most disappointing things that has happened in recent days is the politicization of the BCEd Plan. The government is using this formally non-partisan site to circulate paid messages such as the following tweet : @bcedplan: Teachers deserve a fair wage increase but it needs to be affordable. http://t.co/IDeo6dA6vO http://t.co/lO6eIkHChH #bced

Regardless of your personal opinions on salaries and wage increases, this is uncalled for. The BCEdPlan site was meant to be non-political and welcoming for all. The PAID advertisements to discredit a group of professionals that are stakeholders within this plan is unconscionable.

The BCTF is a union and an advocacy organization for their membership. The leadership within their structure is expected to lobby hard for their teachers. But they are going too far with the negative messaging as well.

Stop the public bashing of one another. No more bargaining in the media. Do you want a facilitator? I have children that are trained in anti-bullying through the WITS program.

Both sides need to get back to the table and find the common ground to get a freely negotiated deal; a deal that is fair and gives stability to education in this province for whatever term the parties can mutually agree upon.

Grad Speech for SCAS June 23, 2014

I had the incredible honour of representing my Board at the Sunshine Coast Alternative School Gradation celebrations earlier today at the SC Golf & Country Club. The students and staff of SCAS are incredible. Their dedication is amazing to get students through school which is why the school motto is “Whatever it Takes”.

I think that would be a great motto for BCEd.

Here’s my speech.

***

Parents and family, staff, community members.
Graduates

On behalf of the Board of Education of School District 46, Sunshine Coast, I bring greeting and Congratulations.

I have to be honest, this is the first time that I have attended the SCAS graduation since I became a trustee. What a great venue and how wonderful to be surrounded by all of your family, friends, community members and teachers.

The Motto of the Sunshine Coast Alternative School is “Whatever it takes”. As trustees at the board level, we do not witness your day to day struggles, triumphs and successes to get you through your coursework and homework.
We do not know of your personal stories – why you chose SCAS, how it works for you and why it kept you in school.
But the teachers and support staff around you do. They have witnessed and coached and struggled with you to get you to this point: graduation.
Your families and friends have been there for you as well and with them you have made it here.

Through the generous donations from our community, you will be awarded bursaries and scholarships. Thank you to the generous support of the entire Sunshine Coast Community for all of our graduates.

Between the staff at SCAS and your families and support system, you have this wonderful network that has brought you to this point and will assist to give you the wings for your next steps.

As trustees, it is our job o create the environment for this to continue through our advocacy and policy directions. We are extremely proud of all of our graduates and for me, especially of our SCAS grads as your path has not always been the straightest line to this finishing point. For me, school was easy – I was the peg that fit in the hole, but many of my friends were not, and they ended up dropping out and not finishing. They did not have the staff and structure of a school like SCAS to do “whatever it takes” to get them to graduation. You have an incredibly dedicated teaching staff that helped you to get you here to this day.

Your success and engagement drives us at the Board table to do better for you all.

We wish you all the best in the next step of your life’s journey.

Congratulations.

Today I am a Mother

This morning I am a mother.

I am comforting my grade seven child. She’s upset that her class field trip to Victoria has been cancelled due to labour disputes. A field trip that has stemmed from her science class talking about the Sakinaw salmon months ago.

The Sakinaw salmon morphed in to a discussion on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and how the Federal Government introduced legislation to drastically change the structure the DFO. This led to my daughter and a classmate initiating a letter writing campaign amongst their other sixteen classmates to their local, federal and provincial politicians. Their teacher was incredibly engaged, able to use the students’ enthusiasm to promote cross-curricular competencies in social studies.

The students met with their local MLA Nicholas Simons.

Their MP John Weston visited them just last week in their classroom, interviewing a few on their thoughts.

The trip to Victoria was to be a two day event to tour the Legislature and see the seat of government in our province, and experience Question Period. This is a trip that the students have been fundraising for weeks to make happen ; through car washes, sponsorship requests, bake sales, face-painting, and bottle drives.

As a trustee that is involved in local and provincial advocacy, and well versed in the current situation, I can explain all the issues to my daughter. I can tell her how the Province is trying to balance their budget in order to maintain BC’s high financial rating.
I can tell my daughter about how the Liberals campaigned on a ten-year deal with teachers during last year’s election, but how minimally education came up during debates and through all sides during the election campaign.
I can explain how in balancing the provincial books, this means that Education funding is remaining static to districts, which leaves school districts across the province with a shortfall as they try to staff classrooms, cover rising costs of Hydro and BC medical insurance premiums; maintain aging facilities; and deal with the ever-changing provincial directives on cash management and labour policy.
I can tell my daughter about how the publicly elected trustee governance board at BCPSEA (BC Public School Employers’ Association) was fired last summer and how Minister of Education Peter Fassbender appointed a public administrator to oversee the organization, which then resulted in a scramble by BCSTA (BC School Trustees Association) to consult with boards across the province to establish new bargaining structure suggestions prior to legislation regarding BCPSEA was introduced, legislation that has not materialized, nor is it on the immediate horizon.
I can tell my daughter about the bargaining positions of the BCTF and BCPSEA are incredibly far apart, ranging in cost estimates of the millions to billions of dollars, and how depending on which side is presenting the information, the amounts fluctuate.
I can explain how many days the bargaining teams have met since last year, approximately sixteen months ago; how many nights they have spent away from their families, trying to find common ground in the chasm that separates them.
I can explain to my daughter how her teacher is caught between very difficult pressures between his employer and his union, which is why the trip was cancelled.
And even though we have had all of these discussions in my home, the conflicting messages that are circulating regarding strikes, lockouts, and the labour dispute are confusing to us all, let alone my daughter that is missing her trip to Victoria.

But this morning, I am a mother – I have loved up my kids, and given them hugs, cuddles and kisses, and reminded them to be kind to their teachers and fellow classmates, to the staff at their school. I am frustrated for my children, for their teachers, for the trustees and districts across the province, for all of us caught in the middle.

Let’s hope for a negotiated settlement that is fully funded by the province.

Regular School Board meeting on April 8, 2014

The Board of Education of SD#46, Sunshine Coast, holds their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 8th at 7pm in the School Board Office at 494 South Fletcher Road in Gibsons.

Highlights include a presentation by the ACE-It Carpentry program/Canada Skills Competition, and the past month’s activities of the Board and Committees.

The Full agenda package is at the following link:

http://www.sd46.bc.ca/files/13-14%20Board%20Meetings/040814_RegMtg_Agenda.pdf

Hope to see you there!

Provincial Council

I am so very excited to be attending BCSTA’s Provincial Council meeting in Vancouver this weekend. Deputy Minister of Education James Gorman presented an overview of the provincial budget, and how it relates to districts. He took questions from the provincial councillors and was, as always, very candid and informative.

Today is a day of governance and a special presentation by Bruce Preston, Commissioner of Teacher Regulation Branch.

Follow my tweets for updates! @LoriAnnPratt

Have a great day.