Dear Teachers, Support Staff, Administrators and Parents,
I support public education. My support is unequivocal.
I am honoured to have many friends who are teachers, support staff and administrators, and many of you are my former teachers, support staff and administrators in School District #63. The belief and commitment you showed in me during my most difficult time in high school, saved my life. I will never forget this.
I understand the great stress our current government has created for you, and in spite of their decisions adding to your stress, you have continued to deliver incredible education to our children in very difficult conditions. In the tradition of my W̱SÁNEĆ relatives, I raise my hands to you and thank you for your commitment to us, and our children.
In honour of your commitment to our children, I pledge to you to always be the strongest advocate for you in our community and the Legislature.
When I was the Interim-Leader of the BC Green Party, I committed to all British Columbians that public education was a top priority for me. My colleague Andrew Weaver (Leader of the BC Green Party) has made that same commitment.
In our 2017 election platform the BC Greens have delivered on that promise. We have put forward the strongest education platform of any of the political Parties, committing to $8.55 billion in new investments in education. Our platform is fully costed and we have demonstrated the importance of investing in education for today and the future.
Our Lifelong Learning Strategy shows our understanding of the importance of a strong public education system in the 21st century. We cannot continue to apply band-aids, because that is not good enough. The world is changing rapidly and the best way we can proactively prepare British Columbians to succeed in our new world is through education, starting at birth and continuing all the way through to retirement.
I am particularly proud of our equitable access to public education policy (point #7 in our plan). We understand that changing demographics adds pressure on schools and school districts. Our schools are some of the most important publicly owned facilities in our community. The per student funding model has created a situation where many of these facilities are at risk of being closed simply because the number of students in an area has dropped. The BC Greens would prefer not to close schools and so we have proposed that School Districts should be able to make a case why a school should receive extra funding to keep it open. We are thinking of the long-term benefit of our communities.
It is true that we have not addressed funding to Independent Schools in our platform, but that should not undermine our commitment to public education. The issue is less with the government providing funding to Independent Schools, as it is the current government's ill-advised dedication to the erosion of the public system. It is critical we get the public system properly funded first, once that is done we can have the conversation about the appropriate levels of funding for the Independent School system.
My son is a public school student and my daughter will be at Brentwood Elementary next year. My kids love their school and their teachers, and for good reason. Your government has been at war with the public school system for over 16 years now. Unfortunately, teachers are an easy target for a reckless government and the BC Liberals have taken full advantage. I have seen the timestamp, your emails are sent after midnight, your handwritten notes to Silas are heartfelt and full of love. The government can add coding to curriculum, but if you don’t have access to computers, modern computers, what is the point, if not just a soundbite? You have allies in the BC Greens.
I understand that the BC Greens have not been traditionally seen as the defenders of public education. We are, and we will continue to be!
Our commitments have upset the status quo in British Columbia politics and I am proud that we have established a bold vision that pushes the edges. We are not going to achieve the systemic change we need through a series of platitudes and half measures. Our children’s future and our society deserve much more than that. You deserve much more than that.
By supporting BC Greens in areas we can win, and Saanich North and the Islands is one of those areas, you will be electing strong voices for public education.
I am the only candidate in our Riding who has children in our system. We need more voices of young families in the Legislature so we can articulate the importance of investing in public education. To be elected to advance this message, I need your help. Please vote for me in this election, and please vote early.
(The substance of this letter will remain unchanged, but edits to grammar and punctuation are welcome. I am shooting for an A+ in this final exam!)
HÍSḴW̱E (Thank you),
Candidate, BC Green Party
Saanich North and the Islands