The student newspaper is publishing everyone's answers here, but I thought I'd may as well cross post my answers on my blog for peeps who don't follow GN.
Each week we get about 3-5 days to respond. So far, the questions are definitely pointed. We'll see if I can keep up - usually I read the question, get triggered, close the email, and then come back to it 12 hours later, so I already have some disadvantage.
What's that? I sound jaded? Whatever gave you that idea?
Week 1: Why are you running for the Vancouver School Board? If elected, what are your top priorities for the District?
I believe the toughest problems faced by future generations needs to be solved by people working together, and I want to show my kids, and all students, that it's possible to make big decisions ethically and with kindness.
My top priority would be to continue building relationships. In this world, relationships are gold - deep, genuine connections are the foundation on which solutions to the world's problems are built. A community of people who care about each other are much more likely to be able to create solutions which work for everyone, and which can withstand the tests of time. So what problems need solving at the district? The first that comes to mind is funding - the District is perpetually wanting to do more for students but provincial funding only covers so much. I'd like to see the VSB find creative ways, through community partnerships, to provide more resources for students. Another one is climate action. While the schools board's core mandate is education, if we don't have a world for students to graduate to, what's the point? I want to improve outdoor education and access to nature (studies show that kids who are in tune with nature are more likely to act to preserve it), support ways for the district to cut emissions (e.g. through facility upgrades), and I would support students attending climate rallies (which, like, of course, who wouldn't).
Week 2: What is your stance on school closures?
This one was hard to write. I KNOW what answer they want to hear, but it makes no sense and I can't promise it.
TL;DR: I don't like it, but sometimes - when your job is to serve all students across all neighbourhoods and when you don't get enough capital funding from the provincial government - it has to be done.
Closing schools is a tool. It's a tool of desperation and destruction; it's a tool no one wants to use. No one wants to close schools (if for no other reason than because you get made out to be a villain no matter your justifications and rationale). But it does help balance a budget, especially when schoolhouses are increasingly expensive to operate and maintain. Three and a half years into my term and I'm learning that everything comes down to money, even though it's a really unglamourous way to look at education. Seismic upgrades? Need money. Outdoor classrooms? Costs money. Robust universal music program? School food program? More librarians/counsellors/neighbourhood liaisons? Money. Bathrooms that are better/more easily maintained than the gaping hellmouths that we currently have? More money. Closing QEA is hopefully going to help us generate some desperately-needed funding to help students who need our help to stay in school long enough to graduate.
I'd love to categorically say I will not close schools but I honestly - desperately - can't. It would be a disservice to all the students who need me to do so.
Week 3: How will you improve the public consultation process and ensure transparency in decision making?
Nick, Janet and I worked on an answer together because J is out of the country and I am juggling two jobs and two kids without summer camps. My usual babysitters (teenagers who live upstairs) are out of town and I'm honestly just... done. Apparently this is a no-no and the Vision crew got a stern talking-to from the GN editorial board.
On behalf of Lois, Janet, and Nick.
All trustees, stakeholders, students, parents, teachers, staff, and the public have a role to play in ensuring decisions made for the betterment of the education system and students' success is a transparent and collaborative process. If we imagine our schools as a tapestry, we are each responsible for weaving our strands together, no one strand can dominate the tapestry as trustees consider their decision making. Together we can weave that fabric. There are examples of success and areas we can definitely continue to improve on.
Most recently the VSB completed the Food Framework Engagement. Over the past term the VSB has also completed consultations in creating the Education Plan and Equity Statement, SLO, Anti-racism and Non-discrimination Strategic Plan. Engagement also occurs through working groups, for example the Administrative Procedures Working Group (stakeholders including the District Parents Advisory Committee (DPAC) and Vancouver District Student Council (VDSC) and the Indigenous Education Council. While successes have been achieved, lessons have also been learned, and as the work continues we need to always find ways to improve and grow.
Green Trustees are open to looking for ways to better share information and context with and receive feedback from stakeholders, rights holders and the public on the topics the VSB needs to consult on. Public education in Vancouver is essential, but also massively complex. Someone filling out a 5 minute survey is going to produce a small strand of useful information. A family attending a focus group will likely produce a somewhat larger strand of information in which we can weave together in our tapestry. Stakeholders and rights holders and community members with in depth knowledge will spin a yet larger strand. All of that is interwoven with other strands of information such as the district’s financial health, staffing resources, and external factors such as the provincial laws that govern how districts must operate.
We believe students have an opportunity to grow into larger leadership roles within their student body when it comes to consultation. We would like to formalize the current ad hoc way the VSB consults with students. However this should not be dictated by the VSB, but instead led by students. With the support of the VSB, students could take the lead creating mechanisms/group structures to enhance the voice from the student body. The VSB can also look to improve how it consults with staff, teachers, parents, and the overall public as a whole. Only by working together can we successfully weave our threads into a tapestry truly reflective of the unique perspectives, shared values, and lived experiences needed for all students to thrive.
I'm working on this week's question. It'll probably be a bullet list of random ideas and people will just have to figure it out. Yes I am aware GN is run by students. Yes I was a teenager once and I regret nearly all of it and I should work better at trying to understand teenagers, because I'll have two of them soon. Yes I am still tired and resentful. Why resentful? Didn't I put myself in this situation in the first place? Because campaigning has nothing to do with governing, and are we selecting for good campaigners or good governors here? That is my question. To no one.