Q10 for Better Schools: DIVERSITY+INCLUSION

BETTER LANGLEY: How do you see the roles of diversity and inclusion in relation to the Langley School Board? What specific policies and/or ideas would you promote in this respect?


BETTER LANGLEY FAVOURITE ANSWERS HIGHLIGHTED IN GREEN (COMING SOON)

A note about highlighted answers: Better Langley favourites are selected based on discussions with dozens of parents, teachers, local politicians. Each question had select criteria that the aforementioned stakeholders found to be of the greatest importance and I have done my best to represent these. Additionally, my own academic background in political science, philosophy, religious studies, and real estate all provide its own knowledge base, process of critical thought, and, yes, biases. In order to reduce personal bias toward any candidate or organization, however, answers were read anonymously, separate from the candidate before selecting a “favourite” to highlight.


SCHOOL TRUSTEE CANDIDATE ANSWERS (by ballot order)

RAI (Contract with Langley): School boards follow the principle that every student should have equitable access to succeed in school and life with the resources, supports and interventions needed. Equity in education is important because the quality of education that students receive directly correlates to their quality of life in later years. It’s important for schools to prepare every student to reach their full potential.
Our community is unique and includes students from a variety of backgrounds. This is why a focus on vertical equity will work – where resources are provided based on individual needs. I also think it’s important to support the ministry’s Indigenous Education Strategy to promote awareness about First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures, histories, perspectives, and contributions in schools.
The Ministry of Education’s mandate is to enable all learners to maximize their potential, and I will leverage my position as School Board Trustee to make it happen.

LOCKHART (Independent): I believe that Langley is on the right track. Programs like Fine Arts, Fundamental, Environmental Awareness (outdoor education), Montessori, U-Connect and French Immersion are all great avenues for parents and students to explore. I think that we need to ensure that these programs are not only accessible, but actually known about so that parents/caregivers and students can make an informed choice.

I currently do not have any ideas on policies (for inclusion) because I do not have enough experience in this issue. What I would like to see are committees that are based on diversity and inclusion related topics, with individuals from these groups. These committees would be given the ability to communicate in a safe, stigma free environment so that their ideas, questions, concerns can be addressed most appropriately.

PERREAULT (Independent): As a self-identified Autistic with a neurodivergent family, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is central to my work, supported by both lived and professional experience and a large part of the current working of the District. Given the privilege to serve, I will continue to advocate for current equity scans to hear what our staff and students need to be supported in our schools. All my motions on this past term directly reflect this work and will need to be observed and supported. To date we have done a good job beginning to hear staff, we would all benefit in our work to observe student experiences and where our growing edges are, while finding the gaps in communication to further support needs. Advocacy toward the MoEC will need to continue to move to ensure accessibility to both curriculum and infrastructure is on the radar supporting equal access to education. Advocacy such as a communication piece to the MoEC regarding the gross delay in the Special Education Policy Manual and Guidelines that was to be published 2 years ago hold voice for our marginalized families while guides School Districts,. Additionally while looking at how we deploy SEA’s in to job postings are just a couple of immediate needs.

Motions that I have put forward and the Board has passed are as follows:
• Barrier Free Spaces in Schools;
• Feminine Hygiene in Schools;
• Cultural Safety Training for onboarding Trustees;
• Safe and Inclusive Schools (seclusion/isolation rooms)
• Safe and Inclusive Schools (seclusion/isolation rooms) MOTION 15 BCSTA – passed as amende

DICKINSON (Contract with Langley): If the guiding statement of the district is “Every Child Matters,” than it is imperative that diversity and inclusion be at the center of all of our actions.

As mentioned above, education is a fundamental right. Until we adequately staff our schools- so that all students, regardless of their abilities or needs- have access an education equal to or greater than their peers, we will not be a district that can claim we are fully inclusive.

This is the direct result of the Ministry of Education not funding students with diverse needs adequately. Subsequently, the districts are struggling to afford to hire the number of SEAs necessary to support proper inclusion programs. Students are often forced to “piggy back” on the hours of other students, which is an unfair practice.

The funding formulas used by the MoE are incredibly ineffective and based on designation category rather than the actual needs of the individual student. I have seen situations where according to the MoE, the child’s designation entitles them to only a few hours of SEA support per day. Yet, the reality is that the child requires bell to bell SEA coverage. I would like to see school districts across the province lobby together and force the provincial government to properly fund students. In the meantime, despite a limited budget, it is vital to prioritize the hiring of more SEAs.

I also very much support policies that allow students to complete their schooling through alternative means such as U-Connect, Vangaurd, Learning Centers, and the expansion of online learning opportunities.

I would like to see an expansion of programs available to our Aboriginal youth, including programs where they can work with elders or learn traditional languages or trades or credit.

TURNER (Independent): Due to the issues with your online account, I have chosen not to fill out the survey.

WAKELIN (Independent): It is such a shame that we need to even keep asking these questions and one day I hope we will all operate under the assumption that diversity and inclusion are threads that must be woven throughout everything we do in the district. When children are not excluded or made to feel like this is not a place for them, we will know we have succeeded. Each and every student must feel safe and a sense of belonging in our community or quite simply, we are failing. When students feel represented and secure they will be able to achieve to the best of our potential and we all benefit.

WILSON (Independent): Inclusion MUST be meaningful and it looks different for each child. Sometimes the rush to fully immerse a diverse student into the classroom 100% of the time is actually doing a disservice to that student and their fellow classmates. Many students need extra supports for academics, self-regulation, or social emotional wellness. Extra spaces in schools such as resource rooms or sensory rooms are becoming smaller and less common, but I believe they should be increasing, not decreasing, so that the option of providing a student more one on one time throughout a day, when needed, is available. To clarify I am not talking about secluding a student and would never condone that. I will advocate to include more resource spaces in new builds and, of course, more resource staff to work in those spaces.

ROSS (Independent): We are all different. Our fingerprints prove our uniqueness in this world. We need everyone to bring their best to the classroom. NO ONE is more important than the next! Parents send their best child to school and we welcome them with open arms!

FOX (Independent): Langley School District has always prided itself in a very comprehensive and robust policy of inclusivity and diversity. Presently, Administrative Procedure 170 – “Anti-Harassment & Anti-Discrimination” strives to protect students from harassment and discrimination and build a positive school culture and climate providing a framework for fostering social responsibility in our schools.  as outlined in the previous Strategic Plan. Further, included in the ‘Action’ statements of the Strategic Plan issues such as establishing a vision and action plan addressing anti-racism, implementing Trauma Informed Practices in schools and implementing the Langley Social Emotional Learning Guide (SEL) which addresses inclusion and diversity are all addressed.

I would continue to ensure we have policies in place to address the whole area of diversity, inclusion and social responsibility in order to ensure healthy and safe learning environments for all students.

NEUFELD (Contract with Langley): As a Trustee, in times of conflict overseas and the unregulated mass movement of families seeking asylum in Canada, I would look to promote administration procedure 300 – Entry to an Educational Program and 303 – Admission of International Students. Specifically, as “decisions regarding the entry of a student into an educational program,” are made, we must ensure that the province is recognizing these children and that as the district is waiving their tuition fees, we must be getting the adequate funding from the Ministry.

I would also look at and support the Administrative Procedure 457 – Role of District Principal: English Language Learners and Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS). There are currently 70 new Ukrainian children in the district this year, and to date, there have only been 2 SWIS hired to assist. The Board of Education needs to follow section 2.4 and liaise with government and community, regional and provincial agencies to provide up-to-date and coordinated programming and support for parents and students. I personally would like to see the district work to create a Welcome Center like Surrey’s, in size and effectiveness.


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