Parent Power in Each School


Parent Power

(By Tunya Audain 100326, comment to blog Report Card by Janet Steffenhagen Vancouver Sun Education Reporter on: “Provincial parent group not in trouble, president says” 100324)

Why do parents have to beg for recognition from their school systems?

I’ve attended parent advisory meetings which spent most of the time on fund-raising matters.  Current “advisory” councils differ little from the PTA meetings of old where the groups were the lapdogs of the teacher unions and the administration.  

Research reveals tons of evidence that “parent involvement” helps students. And such research will even point to the progress and evolution of such relationships.  From participation to involvement to engagement to consultation to advisory to collaboration to partnership and so on.  As if each degree of greater servility and fund-raising is some great advance!

It’s all a wicked deceit for the present education establishment to say it welcomes any real instrumental role for parents.

Thus, it is not any consolation that the current president of the BCCPAC says she is ramping up her campaign:  “Parent involvement is old hat – we want to be partners now.”

What will partnership give you in a dysfunctional, corrupt, counterproductive, and bureaucratic system?

Parents should not be beggars but should actually be running the schools.  As they have been doing for 21 years in New Zealand. Each school has its own site-based school board with a majority of the decision-makers being parents.

In 1989 when the NZ government did an audit and found that two-thirds of the money allocated to education never reached the classroom they abolished regional school boards.  They now have 2460 individual school boards.

Parents here are really wasting their wonderful time and energy in a system which treats them with tokenism at best and arrogance and disdain at worst. 

Just look at some of the workshop topics that New Zealand parents-as-trustees will be choosing at their 21st AGM this July.

– student achievement       – balancing the books          – national standards       – your board as the “good employer”        – valuing our children and young people          – formal disciplinary procedures          – leading change   – principal performance agreements            – the chairperson: the most rewarding role of the board     – the board and its leadership role                  – effective relationships: touchy/feely – productive or destructive?                        – self-review: a key enabler of board performance  

And get this. They will be honoring long-term trustees who have served for 10, 15 and 21 years!

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