Lack of Public Consultation in Waterloo Region Public Education
Public education should equal public consultation, but that is not always the case.
In my view, there has not been broad consultation for the decisions that have the most impact on students, parents and staff in recent years.
The 2006 Waterloo Region District School Board Consultation Policy states that “The WRDSB is committed to providing the ‘public’ with meaningful opportunities to offer input and influence board decision-making” and “appreciates the legitimacy of different opinions and recognizes the value of diversity and dialogue.
The word “public” is intended to be broad.
Broad consultation includes students, staff, parents and community members who may not be part of a school committee, group or council, etc.
The following examples have not been widely consulted:
• Recommendations for poverty reduction, although some of these recommendations involve fundraising, which is led by parents at the elementary school level.
• Trustees approved a motion to review Student Resource Officers with broad public consultation; however, there was no broad consultation.
• Trustees approved a motion to revise school names with extensive public consultation; the broad consultation did not take place.
• Administrators were informed that Halloween was not canceled, but a memo was sent requesting that candy and costumes be discouraged; again, no broad consultation.
• A two to three year review of the library is underway and trustees have rejected a motion to receive information on the process, criteria and the development of a consultation process.
Of course, there will be broad consultation at budget time, even though much of the funding is specifically allocated, and for the “strategic plan refresh,” which are broad statements that take years to measure.
Public education must remain public. If students, parents and community members feel that their voice does not matter in the public education system, they will take their private taxes and look for an alternative.
If we declare in the policy that the public, which includes students, parents, staff and community members, will participate in meaningful decision-making, then we are obligated to do so because democracy depends on it.
Waterloo Region District School Board Trustee