Who’s responsible? Speaking with parents about the fentanyl and homelessness crisis and its effect on crosstown elementary

As many people already know, I am running for Trustee of the Vancouver Board of Education in the 2018 municipal election.

If elected, I will support initiatives prioritizing spending inside the classroom. I’ll advocate for safe and inclusive neighbourhood schools so learners can receive an excellent, equitable education.

I commit to engage with all stakeholders to ensure our schools are seismically remediated and to work to re-invigorate language and music programs that were recent cuts.

I’ll work with stakeholders to ensure the district lives up to its reconciliation responsibilities and will support indigenous language programs.

As part of my campaign, I am going to schools throughout Vancouver to chat with parents about the issues that concern them.

Today, I stopped by Crosstown Elementary School to have an important chat with some parents who have children enrolled in the school. I had a chance to speak with Valerie and Jordan on camera about the concerns parents have been voicing. Crosstown Elementary has been at the center of conflict around about rampant drug use, mental health neglect, and unaddressed homelessness in Vancouver since it opened in the spring of 2017 in the heart of a gentrifying neighbourhood on the edge of the long-troubled and the highly diverse downtown-east-side.

When we enroll our children into a school, parents expect that all schools will have a standard of inclusion and safety that we can count on being applied effectively and that meet Ministry of Education standards. In Vancouver schools, these standards are embodied in a number of policies.  Parents expect the agreement we have with the school district and the province to be lived up to:

Our kids are to attend safe and inclusive schools, and that this includes the school grounds.

Our city is facing an opioid and homelessness crisis on a scale we’ve never seen before, and this puts a very real strain on our institutions and city departments. I’m very happy to know that our provincial government is taking decisive steps to address this – including creating a ministry of mental health and addiction and building hundreds of modular supportive housing units in Vancouver. However some of this work takes time and our kids need to be safe today, without exception.

Our provincial and municipal homelessness and addiction response is making headway undoing decades of government inaction.

Meanwhile, as parents we leave our children in the care of schools, doing so with the expectations that they are safe and welcome no matter what school they attend.

Parents have little concern for excuses about whose land their school is using when our children are outside. Whoever is responsible for assuring the maintenance of any of the grounds and keeping them safe for children needs to live up to the standards of care set out by the Ministry of Education. If our City’s parks are maintained to a lower standard of quality than our schools are, then city parks used by schools for basic education need to be maintained to a higher level than they are today.

If some schools use Vancouver parks like Creekside or Elsie Roy do, the maintenance decisions about these facilities is a conversation between the Vancouver Board of Education, the Vancouver Parks Board, and the Ministry of Education. It is their responsibility to live up to the policies and guidelines that already exist.

Parents rightfully expect that our children are safe when they are in schools and that no matter what school are children go to in Vancouver self-destructive Behavior, out of control anger, and drug paraphernalia are not prominently features of the environment our children navigate daily when they are at school.

A conversation needs to be held, and if I’m elected as trustee, I will ensure that this conversation happens.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.