Two Hours with the Eastern School District

Every year at our Annual Meeting the PEI Home and School Federation considers resolutions; those that are successfully passed are sent on to the Department of Education and the school districts for a response.

This year, for the first time, the Eastern School District invited the Federation to come and meet with school trustees to go over each resolution and the District’s response.

Which is how last night I found myself spending two hours in the company of Eastern School District trustees and staff.

If you believe the media reports and the general public conception of Eastern School District trustees you’d think them a bunch of lunatics engaged in a highly dysfunctional enterprise. In real life, however, the situation is somewhat more nuanced.

There’s no doubt that there are some severe group-process and personality issues lurking (just) beneath the surface of the trustee group. But to concentrate on that – the public obsession for the last year – is to ignore that the trustees are, as individuals, each passionate about education, well-versed in its intricacies, and doing what they’re doing not out of some power-mad rush to glory (you don’t get rich or powerful being a school trustee), but simply because they think they can help improve the educational lot of the Eastern District. They might not always get along so well, but their aim is true.

Each of the Home and School Federation’s resolutions was given due consideration by the District, and we had a chance to discuss each with the trustees and with Superintendent Ricky Hood and Philip Connolly, Manager of Policy and Planning, in detail. The discussions were animated and useful and I think everyone involved felt that it was a positive exercise to have gone through.

I was especially happy to see the resolution I’d originally proposed, one that ended up with the (somewhat unwieldy) title Request for Clear Procedures That Encourage Parent Communication and Involvement in School Life, discussed at some length.

As I wrote back in September, despite not being a “joiner,” I’m a Home and School convert, and seeing this resolution going from being a notion I had on the front steps of Prince Street School one day while dropping Oliver off – “I wonder what we could do to make going into the school less intimidating for parents” – to something that was being considered by school trustees was immensely gratifying, and proved again how powerful we parents can be when we work together.