Right about now some of you will be laughing and saying good luck, nothing is going to change. That is where you would be wrong.
I first learned about the power of a parent’s voice three years ago, when our school board decided to cancel the school buses. This would have effectively denied our children’s right to an education as in the rural areas of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, children relied on the school bus for transportation to get to school. I worked with a small group of very dedicated parents and together created the “Save the Maple Ridge School Bus campaign. We made history! We spread the news across the province and rallied together to fight for our children’s right to an education.
And It worked!
We not only got the school buses back, but the government changed the way they provide school districts with funding for transportation. The bad news, of course, is that B.C still has the longest walk limits in CANADA to qualify for the school bus and the requirement to provide school buses has not been added back into The School Act…still…our voices were heard, and we got the school buses back.
My hope is that by speaking out about some of the problems in our education system, more parents will want to get involved and speak up.
It is not the teachers, the education assistants, other staff or the administrators that will be the driving force for change, it will be parents. The government will listen to parents.
And if you are still reading…………
It is very likely that some of you have absolutely no idea how different school is today, then when you last attended. Many of the kids we see today are different then what you remember when you were in school. Some kids have difficult home situations, some have special medical needs and learning differences while others have behavioural and mental health concerns. Some of these concerns have been confirmed by a doctor while other children are on wait list many years long to see a doctor. If our public education system states that “all children have a right to an education”, we had better make darn sure we have the right supports in place… which, at this time, we do not.
There is something very wrong with our public school system when we are not able to help every child that needs help.
So, here I am, embarking on a journey to help fix the education system.
After working over 7 years as an education assistant in the public-school system day after day helping kids, I am increasingly aware of the vast number of children in our school system who need help but that are not receiving it. Some might consider schools today to be more of a daycare or child-minding facility as we simply do not have the man power, space, expertise and training to ensure every child can reach their full potential. Some days are so challenging that simply getting through it becomes the goal. Every child is different, each one with their unique strengths and areas of need. Our currently system does not adequately provide for all children.
Let’s take that scary first step of talking about “inclusion”……. what it really means and if we are actually practicing it. Let’s take a hard look at funding, space, staffing levels and what kind of training our education assistants, staff, teachers and administrators need to help children of all needs.
After working in our school district as an education assistant for so long, I feel compelled to speak up. I am discouraged with our current system and simply can no longer be silent.
I am convinced that if parents really knew what was going on in our schools, they would stand up and fight for a better and safer education for not only their children, but for all children.
It is time for me to stand up and fight for what I believe in.
I, Pascale Shaw, am running for school board trustee.