Why Boards of Education are Essential
The most important reason to maintain our current system of governance (through local boards of education) is that boards can make a difference a difference in student achievement outcomes. That, in fact, is their key purpose. Studies in Canada and across North America have confirmed that: when they are practicing good governance, focusing on a clear vision for student achievement and well-being, directing
resources to achieve that vision, recruiting a strong superintendent and management teams, and collaborating with that team, boards of education have a significant positive effect on student achievement. An influential study in 2000 was one of the first to conclude that boards of education
influenced student achievement. While a direct cause and effect relationship does not exist, it noted the conditions that a board of education can establish positively affect results for students. Called “The Lighthouse Study” because it was meant to be a lighthouse to districts seeking to improve education in
their communities, this was the first of several that have been undertaken since that draw the same conclusions. A Pan-Canadian Study conducted by professors from Memorial University and the University of Manitoba likewise found a positive relationship between good governance at the board of education
level and student achievement. They further went on to also confirm other important reasons that boards of education matter a great deal for the delivery of effective public education.
Public Schooling is at the Core of a Democratic Society
Schools, to a large extent, embody the values we hold for our children and future citizens. Boards of education are embedded in their communities and can reflect these values. Members of a board know their constituents and understand their needs. They can be responsive to the concerns and desires of the people they represent. This cannot be said about other governance structures such as regional boards, appointed boards, or provincial bodies. Boards of education, operating in the communities where they are elected, have an important role in representing their constituents so as to affect a positive influence on student achievement. Boards of Education are also directly accountable to the community. Trustees are entrusted with oversight of finances in a school district. When they undertake this responsibility with knowledge and diligence, taxpayers can be assured that the public purse is in good hands. At the community level, the public can influence decisions with local knowledge and can question trustees about their work and direction. This helps ensure community focused decision making and accountability. The community can take part in creating a vision for student achievement in their local school district, and helping to ensure that resources are directed to the realization of that vision. And, if they are unhappy, voters can remove the members of the board come election time. Finally, boards of education can advocate for their local communities toward supporting student achievement. There are those who say that with provincial governments in control of budgets and taxation, the role of boards of education is no
longer important. Coupled with the argument about central fiscal control, they may also point to the fact that since the curriculum is mandated provincially, there is no need for boards of education. That type of suggestion should be strongly rejected.
As a School Trustee, every year, I have the opportunity to give a speech at various High Schools on graduation day. While I am expressing words of wisdom and encouragement, I can vividly recall the memory of Alex’s own graduation as if it happened only yesterday.
I look out at the audience, the hope and promise of youth is always apparent. They are all young, strong, athletic, intelligent, kind, compassionate, articulate and full of life. This is always a momentous occasion. I feel the excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead for each of the grads as they take their next steps into the world. I tell them, “As you reflect on your accomplishments this past year, savor the moment. This is a milestone that you can be proud of. On behalf of the Central Okanagan Board of Education, I wish each of you strength and confidence as you continue your amazing and unique journey of life.”
December 7, 2011, was the Inaugural Board Meeting, when I was first elected
Thank you to Leonard Rapheal for the Aboriginal Smudging Ceremony and to Judge Anne Wallace for administering the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Office. It is the beginning of hard work for the new team of School Trustees.
Newly elected Fraser hopes to improve education system
Julia Fraser admits she has a lot to learn; however, she is “truly excited” about the opportunity to represent the District of West Kelowna as school trustee.
“I’m very honoured that the voters have entrusted me with this very important role,” said Fraser.
“I think the community is confident that I will be able to achieve great things and that I have the interests of all stakeholders at heart.”
Fraser was elected to the position on Nov. 19 after receiving 1,829 votes. Her closest challenger earned 1,255 votes.
According to Fraser, her campaign involved a lot of listening.
“I have been to 3,000 homes and listened at over 1,000 doors during my campaigning. I will keep listening to all parts of the community in the three years ahead.”
Her motivation for earning the position was to create a better environment for students.
“The reason why I (ran) for school trustee is because I am committed to improving the education system for all children.
“I believe that my perspective on the education system is grassroots and serves both ends of the spectrum from elementary age to high school students.”
Fraser has been married to her husband Stuart for 22 years and has two children.
She has been a businesswoman for 24 years and hopes to use that experience to her advantage in the new position.
“With my vast experience in sales, I have earned the ability to negotiate and be persuasive, which will enable me to lobby the government for increased funding for education on behalf of students, parents and teachers.”
Fraser has one year of experience in the classroom setting as a substitute teacher in School District 57. Fraser said the experience provided her with insights into the challenges that the school system faces.
She has also worked on a school planning council and is the president of the Chief Tomat Elementary Parent Advisory Council.
According to Fraser, one of the biggest challenges of parent advisory councils is parental involvement. She said she hopes to open the lines of communication so that parents can voice their opinions and be heard.
“How well parents exercise their rights determines what degree or quality of services they get in public schools.”
Fraser said she also hopes to strengthen consultation between the community and public school board.
During her campaign, Fraser was asked what she would do to improve literacy in West Kelowna’s schools.
“I (will) advocate for additional funding to our libraries: We need current, interesting resources to engage our students and we need full-time teacher librarians who are one of our greatest resources for instilling the love of reading.”