Trusting the trustees

The topic of K to 12 education is hitting the headlines more than usual these days.

What with secondary school graduation ceremonies and the everlasting row between teachers and the provincial government, the topic of K to 12 education is hitting the headlines more than usual these days.

Lake City Secondary School celebrated its first grad ceremonies on Saturday. I hadn’t been to a grad for some years and was startled, and somewhat depressed, by the all security that was deemed necessary at the complex. How times change!

My question of the day. Where do school trustees fit in the teacher/province issues?

If anyone knows about teachers and what goes on in classrooms, it should be trustees. After all, they hire the teachers. Each BC community  has different   needs,  different circumstances, different priorities, that’s why we  school  have  locally elected school boards.

According to the province,  the 60 boards understand their respective communities, and their role is to “engage their communities in building and maintaining a school system that reflects local priorities, values and expectations; listen to their communities; guide the work of their school district; and set plans, policies and the annual budget. Reflecting the strength of local representation, boards report back to their communities on how students are doing. Boards are directly accountable to the people they serve.”

Sounds good, but the province controls the finances and the curriculum. School boards cope with the funding shortages. They can close schools, change school names, and fiddle with class configurations, but they can’t do much about class size, composition or teachers’ salaries.

Those issues are determined by the “one size fits all” provincial policies.

Our trustees have a low profile. Do we care? How many people can name all the trustees?

Hundreds of us show up for graduation ceremonies but otherwise we seem to pay more attention to the weather, or the state of the streets (potholes) and highways than we do to our children’s education.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.