School board elections policy not inclusive

In the last days of the Spring session of the Legislature, a vote was taken to reintroduce elected school boards with the passing of Bill 56 – An Act to Amend the Education Act, promoted by Minister Natalie Jameson. I stood up for families and children in District 14 and across Prince Edward Island, who have been not given the chance to participate in this democratic process by directly excluding them from both the opportunity to offer to serve as a school trustee, and the opportunity to vote in school board elections; when I voted NO. This conservative government sponsored legislation restricts participation of the elected boards to parents of Canadian citizenship only, and ignores the valuable contribution that other Island parents make. Families who reside in PEI; some for many years and from many countries around the world; have been ignored and forgotten based solely on the status of their citizenship, leaving many removed from the decisions that will directly impact their children’s education. This is a lost opportunity, and an exclusionary policy that flies in the face of the inclusive strategy that this government claims to have at the center of its policy for children and newcomers in general. To be clear, I support the Home and School Association and their request for elected school boards - but I do not support this government’s exclusion of a significant portion of our population. This government missed an opportunity for equity and inclusion, and missed an opportunity to demonstrate to new Islanders that their views and voices are valued, in building a better place for all of our Island children.