Tag Archives: school board

What’s the role of a school board for “unschoolers”?

As most of you probably know, I view Home Schooling as not only an absolutely legal alternative, but one that deserves support from the school board itself.  Our mandate given to us in the Education Act is very clear:

207.1. The mission of a school board is to organize, for the benefit of the persons who come under its jurisdiction, the educational services provided for by this Act and by the basic school regulations made by the Government.

The mission of a school board is also to promote and enhance the status of public education within its territory, to see to the quality of educational services and the success of students so that the population may attain a higher level of formal education and qualification, and to contribute, to the extent provided for by law, to the social, cultural and economic development of its region.

2008, c. 29, s. 23.

So – given that the very same education act specifically exempts students being home schooled from attending our schools, our role is simple: support the efforts of the home schooler such that those students too will attain qualifications and contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of our region.

Now, are we doing all we can do for this group? We’ve made progress, but…  we can do an awful lot more.

But what about unschoolers?  Read this recent article in The Gazette to learn more about unschoolers:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Unschooling+Quebec+classes+schedule+tests/10122656/story.html

Certainly the chosen title for the group “unschoolers” may send the wrong message. I don’t think any of these parents are interested in keeping their child ignorant in any way whatsoever. Their approach to education is quite different, and it may not be something you or I understand. But, if at the end of the day these people are developing happy, successful, interested and productive people? Maybe what we need to do is look again at what our role can be here.

How about working together, as a community, and ensuring every child has the tools they need to be successful. And how about allowing for a variety of definitions of the word “successful”.  Most home schoolers do an amazing job – just look at their results.  Unschoolers?  Let’s work together with them to define what success looks like to them.  And let’s focus on the big picture – let’s help our community learn, and each contribute in their own way to the social, cultural and economic development of our region. That’s our role.

Truly,

Steve

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Best case against getting rid of school boards I have ever seen.

Over at the BBC, we have a 30 minute documentary on a major scam that has affected some schools in the UK.  It boils down to the decentralizing of some fairly major IT decision back to the school level and away from the professional IT people and their buyers.

Laptops worth 458 pds costing 3033 pds, copiers worth 1512 pds costing 42,000 pds, and multi function copiers worth 10,995 pds costing 174,787 pds.

Are the principals or head teachers placing these orders “stupid”?  Absolutely not.  But a professional director of IT and/or a professional purchasing agent would have known how to recognize and avoid this leasing scam.

Some services being centralized simply make sense.  A single professional is going to make a better purchasing decision than will individual principals whose profession is educational management, and not in purchasing IT – as it should be.

If you have a UK proxy, or a subscription to a BBC mobile app,. the show in question is here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01n2t2f/Panorama_Reading_Writing_and_RipOffs/

Truly,

Steve

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Bullying

By now, I suspect that most if not all of the readers of this blog have read in depth about the suicide death of Quebec bullying victim Marjorie Raymond.

It’s been four years since I campaigned and won a seat on our council of commissioners, with bullying being one of my top stated priorities.

With my own children in the school board, I knew that bullying was something that went on every day in our schools.  It’s of interest that when I first drove focus to the issue at council, one of our commissioners actually questioned if bullying really was a problem in our schools, because he didn’t think it was. Wow – it has been and continues to be a long road indeed.

So what is the problem? Do we need better rules?  Codes of conduct? Better policy?

If you read our existing codes of conduct, you would say no.  The expectations are very clear and in fact, were these codes of conduct to be enforced to the letter, we would at least minimize and at best eradicate the bulk of all bullying in our schools.

So – we don’t need to worry about rules, or codes of conduct.

Do we need better policy? When I first recognized the depth of the detachment from reality that some of our politicians suffered from, I decided to work on a framework, or a definition of what our expectations were as a school board as regards respect and responsibility.  It took more than a year, but that framework finally became policy.  It is posted in every school lobby in our board.  And it too looks good on paper.

So we have codes of conduct. We have policy. And yet, virtually every school day I hear of dirty, disgusting and entirely abusive acts witnessed at our schools.

So what to do? I have tried to get standardized reporting of bullying incidents in our schools. We have in fact begun to survey our student population and the first board wide results should be examined by commissioners shortly.

But in the mean time, we actually have kids killing themselves because they see no way out.

So we’re obviously not doing enough.  And it’s not moving near fast enough.

If we want to take this bull by the horns, the first step we need to take is real enforcement of the rules that we have in place. We say bullying in any form will not be tolerated.  So – why are we tolerating it?

For some reason, school boards seem to feel that they are wholly responsible for educating every single student in our system. Regardless of their behaviour. Personally, I believe that if a student cannot bring himself to behave and where we have exhausted all of our means to socialize that student? Sorry, then he goes to the next level – provincial social services, outside of our schools and perhaps offered online schooling.

But to leave that student in amongst the rest of our population and allow him the continued opportunity to abuse them and distract them from their own education? Where is the sense in that? The education act requires us to provide an education for all students. It does not specify the format of that education nor does it require us to keep the wolves in the sheep pen.

Bullying is a societal problem, and school boards cannot handle it alone. There are many cases where social services should take over. The bully should be removed from the school and his issues dealt with by social services. The attempted education of the bully cannot be allowed to supersede the education of the rest of our students, let alone to take priority over the real life safety of our kids.

Until we accept these facts, we won’t succeed in dealing with the problem.

Truly,

Steve

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Nova Scotia education ministry takes over school board.

After watching yet another entirely dysfunctional council meeting at the EMSB from December 21st, you have to wonder if we may not see something similar happen here.

Minister Moves to Take Control of South Shore Regional School Board

At the same time, a number of the Scotia issues seem to apply to many of our school boards.

As the new year begins, I see enormous potential in where Quebec could go in education. How we could become leaders not just in Canada but around the world.

But at the same time, I fear that being so mired in petty politics at every level, even though we have that potential, politics may kill it yet again.

Truly,

Steve

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