The union local that represents Chilliwack teachers is hoping the work of two special advisors to the board of education will bring change to the district.
The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) released a statement Tuesday, just hours after Jennifer Whiteside, the new Minister of Education, appointed the advisors.
“For three years, Chilliwack teachers have been calling for intervention by the Minister of Education,” states CTA President, Ed Klettke. “We are pleased with the recent announcement from the new minister of education and are hopeful to see changes in the conduct of individual trustees and the functionality of the board as a whole.”
Klettke explained that the Chilliwack board of education has frequently been in the news for controversial statements made by several trustees.
“These comments dampen morale and put a bad light on our schools,” he said. “This has affected teachers, students and the broader community in an extremely negative way.”
Our #bced local union in #Chilliwack, @chwkteachers, is applauding the appointment of special advisors to the Chilliwack Board of Education. This is an important step by new Minister @JM_Whiteside to support safe, inclusive schools. Full statement from CTA's Ed Klettke in thread.
— BCTF (@bctf) December 22, 2020
The advisors are Lynn Smith, QC, and former Surrey school superintendent Mike McKay. They are expected to wrap up their evaluation of the board by the end of Feb. 2021.
Some had called for the resignation of Trustee Barry Neufeld, others have asked for the entire board to be replaced by an appointee, and still others have asked for the School Act to be rewritten. On Tuesday, Whiteside also announced ministry staff will begin reviewing the School Act immediately.
The CTA applauded Whiteside for stepping in.
“Many members of our community and teachers have lost confidence in the board of education to consider the best interests of all students and employees,” Klettke said. “It is wonderful to finally see the Education Minister take action to look into the inner workings of the Board and to provide direction. Chilliwack teachers are hopeful that the special advisors will be able to empower the board to conduct their work in a manner that is respectful to all partner groups.”
Board chair Willow Reichelt also voiced her approval of Whiteside’s actions.
“I welcome the review, and I look forward to the Special Advisors’ reports,” she said. “I’m also pleased with the emphasis on human rights in the minister’s order.”
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