Report from BCCPAC “DPAC Chair Summit”
On August 16, I attended the “DPAC Chair Summit” in Richmond hosted by BCCPAC, the provincial organization for Parent Advisory Councils. There were 28 districts in attendance (representing 81% of students in the province) in addition to the BCCPAC Board.
The meeting was positive and productive. Despite the diversity of the regions and districts that were represented, there was agreement on a number of key issues.
Acknowledging the fact that attendees represented the diverse views of their district parents, we agreed to focus discussion on improving our education system so our discussion would not be perceived as “taking sides” in the current labor dispute.
Parents voiced frustration at the lack of progress in contract negotiations, and some felt that the current labor dispute was damaging the reputation of our public education system.
Parents felt that our classrooms are under-resourced, and that classrooms should have the resources and supports they require to enhance the learning of all students. This would reduce teachers’ workloads and allow them to spend more time on what they do best – teach.
Parent organizations – such as BCCPAC, DPACs – need to engage our partners in discussion on educational issues to better advocate the parent perspective on students’ rights.
Representatives agreed to several common goals.
First and foremost, representatives want school in session September 2. The hope is to have a fair negotiated settlement between teachers and their employer now that they have entered mediation. If necessary, however, the group would like to see students learning in the classroom as negotiations continue behind closed doors.
Longer term goals include advocating for an additional funding envelope earmarked for classroom needs that is protected from external cost pressures. Representatives discussed the importance of assessing classroom needs, at the classroom level, with teachers, support staff, parents, students and administration working together towards the best learning environment for all students. BCCPAC will be engaging provincial partners to further the goal of a provincial framework for a Classroom Resource Fund.
And our continuing goal is to foster good working relationships between parents and our partner groups at the provincial, district and school level and to put focus back on students.