Opinion: Live-stream democracy

If the Chilliwack school district is looking for a rationale to live-stream its board meetings, it doesn’t have to look far.

If the Chilliwack school district is looking for a rationale to live-stream its board meetings, it doesn’t have to look far.

One of the school district’s objectives in its 2010-2015 strategic plan is to “work and learn through the integration of appropriate technology.”

Specifically, “Use technology to improve information-gathering and evidence for formulating policy and making decisions.”

Providing the public with better access to the decision-making process would seem an appropriate use of that technology.

The concept isn’t new. While once it may have been a complicated and expensive proposition to broadcast a meeting, technology today has made it commonplace.

Indeed, both the City of Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley Regional District live-stream their council meetings to their website. The Fraser Cascade School District offers an audiocast.

The Chilliwack School District should follow suit for several reasons.

The most obvious: it provides parents and ratepayers with a clear look at how policies are made. It allows them to see first hand the presentations, the discussions that lead to the decisions about an education system they fund.

That perspective increases understanding and encourages greater participation in the entire democratic process.

Given the woefully low voter turnout at the last municipal election, that exposure couldn’t hurt.

Certainly the public has the opportunity to attend public meetings, and some do. But not everyone (particularly parents with small children) has that ability.

And yet, the technology exists where the meeting can be carried on a variety of platforms, from a desktop PC, to a smart phone.

The Chilliwack school district has already made technology a priority in the classroom. It now needs to lead by example and make it a priority in the boardroom.