Dear PAC and DPAC chairs and parents,
As we enter the final chapter of this school year, it is a time when the excitement of students and families grows, as preparation for celebrations of student accomplishments take shape and provide opportunity to reflect and share achievements and successes for the school year.
While plans for most of these celebrations and events have been made long ago, I am sad to share that recent discussions in an alarming number of our schools in this province are not positive ones. Members are reporting that the response to parent offers to volunteer to support their students and school community have been very discouraging, negative and multifaceted. Many events are being cancelled even when parents are stepping forward with time, skills and resources to successfully host the activity. Events (many deep in tradition) planned months in advance are being cancelled and deposits paid being lost due to these cancellations – citing policies, liability, special certifications etc. as reasons why parents cannot volunteer in the absence of teachers.
As parents, the safety of our child is paramount, and we can all agree that activities must ensure the safety of our students. BCCPAC has and continues to receive input from parents that indicates many barriers to parent engagement continue to exist in our schools both culturally and through restrictive policies and practises which are not guided by concern for student safety or a children first approach.
While the education system has the time and opportunity to recover from failure, individual students and parents do not have this opportunity. Parents have but one opportunity to raise their child and have an expectation that our school system will support each student fully by providing and allowing access to all resources available to ensure the best possible opportunities for every student during their educational experience.
The failure to embrace and welcome parent volunteers in our school communities during the ongoing dispute between the BCTF and BCPSEA highlights the lack of progress our system has made in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment and culture where parents feel valued for their ability to contribute to our school communities to support student success and healthy communities.
BCCPAC encourages parent leaders to engage their school communities and create opportunities to participate in informed dialogue on parent volunteerism in your school and district. By asking genuine questions on the issues that matter to your community, by identifying barriers which impede parent involvement while also identifying opportunities for increased parent and community engagement, together, we will create the conditions and learning environment that we desire for our children, for our employees, for our families and for our future society.
We encourage you to keep BCCPAC informed of your discussions as we continue our commitment to advocating for parent involvement in our BC education system.
Please forward your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC)
Supporting student success through parent involvement