President Floyd Martens:
THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM ON THE DEFENCE…
News, being what it is, tends to focus on the sensational, scandalous, or shocking. And so it is not a surprise for our colleagues across the country or in the U.S. for that matter, that the role of public school boards is often criticized.
While this negative focus seems to be on very few Canadian School Boards, CSBA has garnishing much attention for the good work which goes on at most board tables across the country. In order to greater provide a national perspective, CSBA will be conducting a nationwide poll to develop a national trustee profile to show who and why Trustees/Commissioners do what they do. It will also provide information on the public cost for this governing body, which is a minuscule percentage of education budgets. We are collaborating on strategies with several partners to further educate the public on the considerable research showing the benefits of publicly elected governors in education. Even though efforts by provincial governments attempt to lessen the role of and splinter school boards, CSBA has recently passed policy providing for more representation at our table and a stronger, more national membership. Finally, good policy means boards regularly self-evaluate for performance and effectiveness. If you continue to put students at the centre of every decision you make you will be demonstrating the strength of democracy and public schools
CSBA WORK ON THE ISSUES
CSBA Members meet quarterly to discuss shared issues of national importance. We continue to work on our priority areas: Student Health and Wellness, FNMI Education and providing support for school boards across the country. In addition, we are actively working on strategies to show the importance of the role that well-governed school boards play and their positive impact on their communities.
ROLE OF SCHOOL BOARDS – The Saskatchewan government recently published a review of school board structure in which they considered the abolishment of elected boards. The public outcry however, was clearly in favour of keeping democratically elected school boards. Nationally, the role of school boards however has seen some erosion that diminishes their authority to govern. For more information, see our website for a Cross Country Snapshot: Worth looking into: Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia.
FIRST NATIONS, MÉTIS AND INUIT EDUCATION – Advocacy activities have included communications and meetings with the offices of INAC, provincial Premiers and the Prime Minister to call for appropriate funding for FNMI education as well as clarity on plans that will affect education following the Daniels vs. Canada case. Furthermore, we are working with and have offered our full support to the AFN and their initiatives in education. We have been following up on valuable resources provided by partners at the NCTR Round Table in January and have posted them on the CSBA website (including treaty maps, teacher resources and information to support recognition of treaty and traditional territories). Since January, we have completed work on a cross country portrait, also on our website, showing school board structure with FNMI representation, board progress with regards to the TRC Calls to Action and some promising practices today. Going forward, the committee will continue to monitor the framework that the federal ministries, INAC and FCSD are putting together on Childcare; gather information on voluntary self-identification of staff, trustees and students; examine existing agreements between First Nations communities and boards and look into permanency policy for Indigenous teachers.
STUDENT HEALTH AND WELLNESS – After collaborating with several national partners, the CSBA has adopted a Charter of Commitment to Student Health and Wellness. It provides a clear mission, terms of reference and a framework for our work. The Charter is available on our website. Following some collaborative work with the Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium on School Health (JCSH) which represents the ministries of both Health and Education in all Canadian jurisdictions, we have added three outstanding tools to our Health and Wellness Resources, all of which are free and bilingual: Positive Mental Health Tool Kit, Youth Engagement Tool Kit, Healthy School Planner. As there is already significant work being done in individual jurisdictions on substance abuse, the SHWC committee will be doing a policy framework survey before providing recommendations for school boards on the Legalization of Cannabis. Our collaboration with Respect in Schools is being developed with a view to providing a ministry supported, national on-line training baseline on abuse, harassment and bullying for all adults who work with youth. The two recent issues of Facts on Education, published in collaboration with CEA address two health and wellness issues, providing research on The Most Effective to Ways to Support Student Mental Wellness and The Best Way to Successfully Integrate Recent Immigrants into Canadian Classrooms (see www.cdnsba.org). We are also working on a National School Health Checklist to help boards identify strengths and weaknesses in their schools.
COPYRIGHT – We continue to monitor the 2017 Federal review of copyright regulations and the impact changes could have on schools and students. CSBA is ready to defend “fair dealing” on a national scale, assisting at the CMEC coalition, with several other concerned partners.
PROVINCIAL ISSUES WITH POTENTIAL NATIONAL IMPACT :
British Columbia: Supreme court ruling (http://www.bcsta.org/TheLeader/index.php/2017/01/30/bc-
A Saskatchewan judgement requiring children to produce a baptismal certificate to attend Catholic schools (GSSD v. CTTS) has gone to appeal.
Federal: Taxation on Employee Health Benefits (https://www.mercer.ca/en/our-thinking/mercer-response-to-benefits-taxation.html
OTHER ACTIVITIES – Prime Minister’s Awards in Teaching Excellence
CSBA sits on the Advisory Board and several members are part of the selection committee for these prestigious awards for Teaching Excellence. The recipients were named and Prime Minister Trudeau distributed the awards this past month. The high quality of applicants makes it a very difficult process. If one of the teachers is from your district, you can be very proud. Our congratulations go out to:
Jim Crescenzo, Vancouver. B.C.
Johanna Gordon-Walker, Bella Bella, B.C.
Robert Hammer, Musquodoboit, N.S.
Erica Thompson, Fort McPherson, NWT
Beth Alexander, Toronto, Ontario
Don Ball, Mississauga, Ontario
Kathy Cepo, St. Thomas, Ontario
Thomas Doherty, Balmertown, Ontario
Rahim Essabhai, Toronto, Ontario
Manon, St-Hilaire, St-Jerome, Quebec
Andrea Regier, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
CSBA ANNUAL CONGRESS 2017
Whistler, BC, JULY 5-8 – The congress hotel block at the Fairmont is full, but 2 additional, adjacent hotels are still available. Please register now. Confirmed speakers include Charlene Bearhead, former Education Lead of the NCTR, Mohamed Fahmy, Canadian journalist formally imprisoned in Egypt and Yong Zhao, international speaker on innovation in education. The congress ends with a mountain top dinner that is separate from your registration, so please reserve if you are planning to attend. www.csba2017.ca
COMING CSBA BOD MEETINGS:
CSBA Annual Congress, July 5-8, 2017, Whistler B.C.;
Oct. 15-16, 2017, Wendake, Quebec
* THE CSBA WEBSITE NOW PROVIDES ACCESS TO PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT MODULES FROM 8 PROVINCES ON ALL TOPICS THAT TOUCH ON GOOD GOVERNANCE. THERE ARE MORE THAN 60 COURSES FOR TRUSTEES/COMMISSIONERS COVERING VIRTUALLY EVERY TOPIC. AVAILABLE IN TEXT OR WEBINAR FORM, MANY ARE ALSO BILINGUAL. PLEASE CHECK UNDER “RESOURCES.”
“A democratic form of government, a democratic way of life, presupposes free public education over a long period. It presupposes also an education for personal responsibility that too often