News » Whistler

Parents pushing school board for changes

by

comment

Promotion of post-secondary education a concern

Parents of elementary school aged children in Whistler are worried that the school board is not doing enough to promote post-secondary education in this district and have rallied the support of the District Parent Advisory Council in their drive to effect change.

The Myrtle Philip PAC believes the pace of change within the system is glacial and wants to lobby now before their children reach the secondary school level.

The parents passed a motion in March requesting the district establish explicit goals to encourage all students to pursue a post-secondary education. They also asked that the district work to prepare students for post-secondary education through appropriate course offerings, high academic standards, effective school programs and pro-active counselling.

The DPAC voted to support the Myrtle Philip PAC motion and also sent a letter to the school board, but parents feel trustees are still not getting the message.

The board responded to the Myrtle Philip PAC concerns saying: "The goals are in place to do the work you request."

Board chair Amy Shoup; in the letter of response to PAC chair Don Brett, noted the board is bound by the goals of the Ministry of Education and one of those goals is to help students attain career and occupational objectives. "This goal is clearly in the arena of post-secondary education and directs the board to provide opportunities to students for career development," wrote Shoup. "The board has developed goals for the district, one of which states: ‘The board will encourage and investigate the available programs that have been proven to raise the levels of students achievement’"

This goal, said Shoup, addresses the concern of the MPCS PAC. She said effective school programs are in place. She also highlighted the accreditation process which sets long-term goals for each school with the help of parents.

But parents are not placated.

"DPAC feels their concern isn’t getting through to the board," said DPAC representative and Pemberton secondary PAC chair, Brenda McLeod at the school board’s monthly meeting held in Pemberton May 9.

"I think the whole gist of the letter is being missed," she said. "There is huge concern in the north of the district. I thought the letter would be received and discussed at length at this meeting… students are not getting the academic courses they need to graduate and this is a huge concern with parents."

McLeod said parents think administrators are doing their best at the school level but it is not good enough. She said limited course selection means some kids have to stay at school an extra year to meet university entrance requirements or they are lumped with having tough schedules, like Physics 11 and Physics 12 in the same year. That, said McLeod, is just too difficult for some kids to digest.

Whistler trustee Andrée Janyk told the board at the monthly meeting that she was puzzled by the continued concern.

"I thought that we showed people we do have goals and action plans in place." She said she was affronted that parents have recognized the fact that the board is doing something.

Superintendent Rossler noted that parents were excited by the video she showed them on Learning Communities and that they want to work with the district on setting goals.

The board voted to respond in writing to the parent’s concerns.

The Myrtle Philip PAC motion states that parents believe post-secondary education – including community colleges, universities, technology institutes and formal apprenticeship programs – to be of high value for two reasons. They believe it broadens a student’s understanding of the world and helps develop personal potential, and they see it as means of maximizing career and employment options in a rapidly changing world.

At the Myrtle Philip PAC’s May meeting Brett said Rossler has listened to their concerns and she will be bringing district school administrators to a DPAC meeting that will be hosted by Myrtle Philip on Wednesday, June 6 at 6:30 p.m.

Brett said the goal is to discuss the ramifications of course selection in this district. "We need as many people as possible to attend," he told the PAC.

"We have to start lobbying now for the glacial pace to change," said parent Chris Vernon-Jarvis.

McLeod told the school board at the Pemberton meeting that parents have been trying to brainstorm to find innovative solutions. She said courses offered in the learning labs are too isolated for many students who don’t have any contact with a teacher. She said a Web-based delivery model combined with a teacher who could travel throughout the district and interact with students is something that could be explored.

McLeod said she was encouraged by a presentation at the same board meeting by Scott McLagan on Web-based learning as a possible option for the district.

Add a comment