I wish to make two points regarding the reporting bias and inaccuracies in the Chilliwack Progress article by Jessica Peters, “BCTF president speaks up on dress code comments”, P A3, March 20. Point one concerns the claim made by Peters that I “called teaching boys not to react as an untested “experiment. That is false. My comments were “massaged” and taken out of context. My whole argument during that March 12 Board meeting was against the IDEA of abolishing the dress code in Chilliwack schools. I maintained my argument against that IDEA throughout, stating again at the 1:23:40 point in the online SD33 video that the school is no place to experiment with that idea (i.e., the IDEA that dress codes should be abolished).
Peters has simply applied her usual “journalistic license” to merge two of my statements together to suggest that I do not want dress codes for boys as well, or that we should not speak to boys about controlling their behaviour. I believe in the same dress code rules for boys and girls in Chilliwack schools. These have been in place, and working effectively, for a long time. I support modesty, and decency for all students, with no see-through tops, underwear (boys’ or girls’), bras or cleavage exposed. This is just common sense, decency and respect for all students, including the many other cultures and religious groups in Chilliwack.
I also believe a school is also a professional workplace for teachers, who should not have to endure inappropriate or sexually provocative or revealing dress in their work environment. As re-affirmed by Trustees Barry Neufeld and Heather Maahs, the current dress code in place gives the school principals, teachers and parents the responsibility to monitor and correct inappropriate dress and behaviour in their classrooms. This is applied on a school-by-school basis. I do not support the IDEA to remove this level of accountability and allow the students to wear whatever they want. I support the current dress code that gives school principals, teachers, and parents the final say on what is appropriate dress in their schools.
Point two is my concern that in her work, Peters regularly appeals to – and promotes – the opinions and perspectives of union authorities like the President of the BCTF, Glen Hansman. Why even ask for Hansman’s opinion, rather than the views of Chilliwack parents, teachers, or students themselves? Glen Hansman should be primarily concerned with the welfare of his teachers, and yet there is no mention that teachers have been wanting dress codes to be removed. Does Hansman represent the values and concerns of Chilliwack teachers? Has he asked them their views? Does Hansman represent the views of Chilliwack parents? Peters quotes him as saying he wants to “come out swinging” against the Chilliwack Trustees. The days of union bullying have surely ended, haven’t they?
Let’s ask Chilliwack parents, teachers and students their views. As an elected Chilliwack school trustee, I would welcome their input.
Darrell Furgason PhD
Chilliwack School District 33 Trustee