Calls for Progressive School Board Candidates to Work Together

    VANCOUVER, Dec. 22 /CNW/ - Today, Vancouver advocates for public
education issued an open letter calling upon prospective candidates for school
board to work together.
    The Vancouver Public Education Project is an ad hoc committee of parents
and educators who have been involved in advocating for public education for a
number of years.
    "Parents, students and teachers need know that someone is standing up for
our schools and kids," commented Dawn Steele, a member of the committee. "We
need the candidates to realize the education of our children is not just
another arena for partisan politics."
    The letter to prospective candidates for trustees has been posted at:
    Members of the public are invited to add their names to the letter by
visiting the website. The text of the letter is as follows:

       An Open Letter to Prospective School Board Candidates from the
                     Vancouver Public Education Project

    Vancouver's public schools continue to be eroded by provincial
underfunding, a narrow and flawed "accountability" agenda, and an absence of
leadership at the school board level. Where once the VSB took leadership in
recognizing the needs of its diverse student population by being an outspoken
voice for adequate provincial funding, and by developing a model of public
engagement in budget and policy formation, in recent years it has lapsed into
reacting to events and/or apologizing for provincial assaults instead of
standing up for students with a proactive strategy for defending and
rebuilding public education.
    A majority of our current trustees have publicly stated that it is
educationally appropriate for thousands of students to learn in overcrowded
classes. They have voted to reduce supports for vulnerable students, despite
significantly increased enrolment of students with special needs. This impacts
all classrooms and reduces the individual attention that all students need to
achieve their potential.
    Quality public education in Vancouver can not withstand this continued
lack of vision, failure to advocate and loss of transparency. In the past
three years, we've seen record numbers of school-aged children in Vancouver
choosing alternatives to public schools (BC Stats, 2007). This decreased
enrolment reflects an erosion of public confidence and is having a devastating
impact on our schools as it further reduces funding and leads to possible
school closures and further reductions to educational services to students.
    Vancouver's schools deserve to be adequately funded by government in
order to meet the learning needs of all children. We need elected trustees who
can effectively advocate for that funding, not trustees who cut services to
    The recently formed Vancouver Public Education Project (PEP) has come
together to engage all advocates of a strong public education system to
reverse the current direction and unite in ensuring that school trustees
elected in the 2008 Board of Education elections are strongly committed to
rebuilding confidence in Vancouver's public schools. We want to see candidates
committed to a broad, comprehensive vision of public education, working
together in a united effort to stand up for our schools and our students.
    The undersigned representatives of parents, educators and the public
hereby call on all prospective progressive school board candidates to unite
and join us in this effort.
    Further, we also call on progressive trustee candidates who are
considering running in the 2008 Board of Education election and who share our
commitment to restoring confidence in Vancouver's Public Schools to run under
a common slate with a common platform and participate in a common campaign.
Further, we call on our friends, co-workers, neighbours and colleagues to add
their names to this letter to demonstrate their support of a common slate,
platform and campaign - one that is dedicated to rebuilding Vancouver's public
education system.

    Signed by

    Patti Bacchus
    Jane Bouey
    Bill Bargeman
    Julianne Doctor
    Catherine Evans
    Glen Hansman
    Barbara Laird
    Helesia Luke
    Allison McDonald
    Adrienne Montani
    Kelly Read
    Dawn Steele
    Kathy Whittam

For further information:

For further information: Dawn Steele, (604) 874-1416 or Helesia Luke,
(778) 858-0553 are speaking on behalf of the Vancouver Public Education

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