JUSTICE, NOT CHARITY: A conference to discuss charity and public schools
When: Saturday, November 3, 2012 – 9am to 4pm
Where: The Peretz Centre – 6184 Ash Street, Vancouver (one block West of 45th Avenue, just South of Oakridge Mall)
Cost: We’re asking for a $20 donation to cover our costs, but the event is pay-what-you-can.
Lunch is provided.
Please register in advance. You can register online here, or you can call Sean at (604) 600-2731.
If you’d like to volunteer, please email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the past year, the issues of child poverty, corporate and individual donations to Inner City schools and parent fundraising have captured headlines in British Columbia. The media has focused on the increasingly central role of charity to ease inequalities in the public education system, usually without question.
The COPE Education Committee is planning a conference on November 3, 2012 to discuss this topic from a new angle. We want to turn it on its head, proposing that, while charity may be admirable, it is not the way either to fund a public education system or to alleviate poverty or to help Inner City schools. We’re calling our conference Justice, not Charity: A Discussion of Inner City Schools and Creeping Corporatization. We want to go beyond the litany of injustices and work to develop policy guidelines and an action plan. We will begin our day with a look at past initiatives, including a brief review of the Inner City Schools project, its conception and policies, then move on to sessions where we’ll hear from an activist Elementary teacher about the current reality in Vancouver’s Inner City schools and a parent who has examined and spoken publicly about the perils of fundraising.
We will also look at the increasing involvement of corporations in the dally lives of schools and the kids who attend them. As a key goal of the conference is to arrive at an action plan with a broad application, from lobbying to policy implementation, we will ensure sufficient workshop time for participants to delve into details. We are convinced that parent, teacher and community activists know how to move from more and more reliance on fundraising, charity and corporate intrusion, to a political reality where the responsibility for stable, sufficient funding of public schools and programs to mitigate poverty is accepted willingly by government.
Adrienne Montani, the current Provincial Co-ordinator of First Call: BC Child And Youth Advocacy Coalition, is a former Vancouver City Youth Advocate, COPE school trustee and Chair of the Vancouver School Board. Passionate and outspoken about meeting the needs of all children, Adrienne is a recent recipient of a MOSAIC Human Rights Award.
Heather-Jane Robertson is a well-known Canadian researcher, teacher, writer, and defender of public education. Currently a Vice President of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, she is the author of numerous articles and began to tackle the issue of corporate involvement in public schools years ago. Her most recent book (2007) is “Great Expectations: Essays on Schools and Society.”
Anna Chudnovsky is a Vancouver elementary school teacher and activist in the Vancouver Elementary Teachers’ Association who works at a designated Inner City school. Her article in the September 7th edition of the Tyee online is called “Welcome to My Class.” In it, Anna provides a lively description of her class, and the struggles that its members face. She rejects charity as a solution, noting that “Education, the kind that makes a difference to children, costs money.”
Marjorie Dumont, a teacher, is currently on the Learner Support Team at AHP Matthew elementary school in Surrey. Marjorie, whose traditional name is C’tan, a member of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, also has roots in the Gitksan. Until June 2012, Marjorie worked at The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation as an assistant director in the Professional and Social Issues division where she was the Aboriginal Education Coordinator. Among other duties, she was responsible for convening and leading the Aboriginal Education Action Committee. Marjorie is well-placed to provide insights and advice about both the strengths and the needs of Inner City aboriginal youth.
Dan Hale is a Vancouver Secondary teacher, senior staff representative at Killarney and activist parent. As a parent, he was motivated to explore school board guidelines about corporate involvement in Vancouver schools. This led him to his Master’s thesis on corporate intrusion in BC schools and the policies implemented by various boards to manage it.
After retirement, many people choose to relax, not Noel Herron. His dedication to the well-being of kids has never taken a break. A former Vancouver teacher, administrator and COPE school trustee, Noel was also instrumental in the development of the Vancouver School Board’s Inner City Schools Project 25 years ago. Noel writes regularly for the BC Teacher magazine and his hard-hitting letters to various editors are published regularly.
Jane Bouey is well-known for her educational advocacy work for children with Special Needs and for pushing hard for policy on LBGTQ issues. A former COPE Vancouver school trustee, Jane now hosts a current affairs programme on Vancouver Co-op Radio and continues to be a strong spokeswoman for a fully-funded public education system.
Gwen Giesbrecht is a Vancouver small-business owner, parent, parent activist, and former chair of the Vancouver District Parents’ Advisory Committee. Gwen was a candidate for COPE school trustee in the 2011 civic election where she began to address the thorny issue of parent fundraising, now a constant in the lives of Vancouver parents. She coined the phrase “parent supplement financing” to characterize the way fundraising and fee-paying have become ubiquitous in school-based budgets.
Kevin Millsip, a former COPE school trustee in Vancouver, is now the sustainability coordinator at the Vancouver School Board. He is the founder of the youth action group Check Your Head, an organization dedicated to promoting global justice issues among young people. He is also a a co-founder of Next Up, which works to motivate and educate youth to take political action. His leadership while a trustee included drafting strong policy to protect students from advertising in public schools.
Cherise Craney has a teenage daughter with Special Needs. For the first ten years of her daughter’s life, Cherise struggled as a single mother with a lack of financial and practical supports. Cherise has experience advocating in the school system, medical system, and with other services. As a former PAC chair at Macdonald school, and her other community work, she has learned a great deal, and cares very much about issues of child poverty, access to support, and equality