We know there are significant pressures facing our valued public education system—overcrowding, chronic underfunding, a growing teacher shortage and inadequate support for students with diverse learning needs to name just a few.
These cracks in our school system command our immediate attention and require our concerted advocacy.
When we’re focused on the problems and pressing for much-needed solutions, however, it can be difficult to create the space to talk about the future of public schools and learning. Shouldn’t we be talking about our collective aspirations and ideals? About what our hopes and dreams are for public education in BC?
The Institute for Public Education/BC (IPE/BC), a non-partisan, independent organization that provides analysis, research and leadership, has launched a community engagement research project posing those very questions. Through our Hopes and Dreams project, we’re asking British Columbians to share their perspectives. At the conclusion of the consultation, we’ll publish a report to help inform education policy development and decision-making in BC.
Our Hopes and Dreams project will help inform education policy development and decision-making in BC.
IPE/BC firmly believes that quality, inclusive and accessible public education is key for a strong democratic society. Equally important is that our school system must be democratically governed. That’s never more important than in these turbulent and frequently disturbing times. In order to do their very best in their roles, school trustees, the Minister of Education and MLAs need a deep understanding of all that public education can achieve and of what communities value about their public schools, including the hopes and dreams that can be achieved. We see this project as an important discussion among British Columbians.
The impetus for the Hopes and Dreams project is linked to BC’s Charter for Public Education, created through an extensive community consultation in 2003. At that time, a five-member panel travelled the province asking these questions:
- What is an educated person; what are their characteristics?
- Which of these characteristics are developed through the public schools?
- What is an educated community?
- What are the principles of public education?
Based on submissions and dialogue, an eloquent and compelling charter was created, a document that can still be seen on the walls in many public schools around the province today.
The Charter, however, is now 20 years old and much has changed in our schools since that consultation took place. For example, the commitment to act on reconciliation and decolonization in schools was not yet in place, nor was the clear understanding that all children—including those with special and diverse learning needs—must be welcomed and well-supported in public schools. The curriculum has also changed considerably over the subsequent years and technology plays a much greater role in education today than it did in the early 2000s. So, it became clear that there is a need to hear from British Columbians again and the Hopes and Dreams project was born.
How is the consultation being conducted this time?
Firstly, IPE/BC is determined not to rush the process. We want to ensure enough time for as many people as possible to learn about and participate in the project. Therefore, we’re committed to taking at least a full year to collect submissions. We have created a number of pathways for engagement—in person and online.
There are a number of pathways for engagement in person and online.
At the Hopes and Dreams section of our website you’ll find all the information you need to share your thoughts through a handy submission form, by email or on social media. We’ve already met with many people directly at conferences, meetings and other gatherings and would appreciate additional invitations. Are you involved in an event where we could connect with people to hear their views? Don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] with your ideas or requests.
What are your Hopes and Dreams for Public Education in BC? What do you think public schools need? What would a truly equitable, inclusive and diverse system look like? We certainly hope that you’ll join in this project and share your perspectives with us.
To learn more, go to:
- IPE/BC Mission and Values
- The Development of the Charter for Public Education
- Revisiting the Charter for Public Education
- Full Report of the Charter for Public Education Panel
- Hopes and Dreams Project