Home and School and You Report is written by Peter Rukavina, President of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation
Home and School is often referred to as the “voice of parents.”
But it’s important to remember that local home and school associations count not only parents and guardians in their membership, but also teachers, staff and administrators. If you have a child in the school, or if you work in the school, you’re automatically a member of the local home and school association, and of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation.
Home and School is a “big table” around which everyone involved directly with students can sit and collaborate on matters of common concern. Many of the important matters of public education can be hashed out around this table, and the power of parents, guardians, teachers, staff and administrators working together is formidable.
The P.E.I. Home and School Federation’s semi-annual meeting, being held Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School in Kensington, is another example of the cooperative spirit that underlies everything that home and school does.
The heart of the meeting will be small group discussions where many involved in the education system, including the minister of education and early childhood development, the English Language School board chair and superintendent, and board and department staff, will join members to discuss practical issues like student achievement, staffing and schools, health and wellness and communication.
This is not an opportunity for speeches nor pronouncements, but rather for engaged discussion as partners in education. This format was well-received last year, and the discussions that resulted helped to set the home and school agenda.
The other role of the semi-annual meeting is for the federation to receive formal replies to the resolutions passed at the annual meeting. Resolutions are the heart of the policy development process at home and school. They start with discussions at local associations about matters of broad provincial importance, and when they are considered at the annual meeting they are debated and discussed and if they are passed they go on to department and board officials for reply. Members will hear those replies at the meeting, and will have an opportunity to ask questions.
At the 2014 annual meeting in April resolutions were passed on head lice, student absenteeism, academic outcomes, information technology strategic planning, professional development, the staffing allocation model, e-cigarettes and on simplifying release forms.
These resolutions, along with resolutions passed in recent years, drive the work at the provincial level for the provincial board and subcommittees, and when the Federation is asked for comment in the media, they form the basis for responding.
While 2014 resolutions are very much in the forefront this month, local associations should already be thinking about resolutions for the 2015 Annual Meeting, which must be submitted for consideration by Jan. 31.
As issues arise in education in the coming months, it’s useful to think “how could we turn this concern into a resolution.” Often the discussion that results from thinking this way can be as useful as the resolution itself, for it forces issues to be framed in practical terms, based on evidence, with recommendations for action.
The P.E.I. Home and School Federation website at peihsf.ca has complete information about past resolutions, on the semi-annual and annual meetings, and on how to write and present resolutions.
The federation office can also provide support in training in this process. Contact the P.E.I.H.S.F. office at 902-620-3186 or, toll free, 1-800-916-0664 for help.
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