Tuesday, January 12, 2016

FIRST MEETING WITH MINISTER


The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils will be holding its first meeting with the brand new minister of education tomorrow.

The Schools Act, 1997 recognized and reaffirmed the right of parents and the community to offer input into the education of their children through mandated school councils. 

Our members are directly engaged in the life and work of schools ensuring improvement in education through local collaboration and greater accountability. 


I had the privilege of knowing Dr. Dale Kirby from his days as a student advocate for post-secondary education and a fellow policy wonk. I had the pleasure of working for Dale during his transition session of the House of Assembly as an independent MHA.  

On a personal note, I am looking forward to shaking his hand and addressing him as Mr. Minister!

I have always considered him to be a social democrat with a the strongest social conscious in the House of Assembly. He genuinely has the best interest of the province at heart.

He certainly has his work cut out for him. While the conservatives were offering plenty of commitments in the last election, many of them were things that we had requested over the years - to no avail. 

As well, the financial flexibility  to offer new funding for much needed improvements is simply non-existent at a time when every department must be wondering how they are going to hold onto their furniture. This is a time for pragmatic approaches, not entrenched positions.

We are looking forward to confirming the status of elections commitments made by the Premier at the NLTA Leaders Debate regarding funding for school councils and the NLFSC which will allow councils to truly reflect the roles spelled out in provincial legislation.

Another ask is to be included on the Premier's proposed Provincial Task Force on Education. It is critical that organizations like ours have a seat at the table.  

We will discuss the time frame for School Board Elections. We feel the need to happen sooner rather than later. The province says they will happen in 2017, we would like to see them occur in the spring. There are a number of issues related to mental health and addiction that were left unresolved by the previous administration that need to be addressed urgently. Students are facing unprecedented challenges and the supports simply do not exist to adequately deal with this growing concern. Youth are falling into the cracks. 

A thorny issue is that of full-day Kindergarten. Government has been working hard to put the infrastructure in place for a fall 2017 launch. We are hearing concerns from educators and parents. There are questions about curriculum, space,cost and the efficacy of the proposed approach. Considering the financial pressures that currently exist,and the current short falls in the delivery of education, would deferring the implementation be a better approach? 

I am looking forward to working with a new administration as true partners in education.



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