Just 20 days before the municipal election, five independent trustee candidates have formed a new force named “Parents’ Slate.”
Candidates Richard Lee, Charvine Adl, Andrea Gong-Quinn, Ivan Pak and James Li announced the new slate on Monday.
“We joined together for one reason – we heard from many, many parents in Richmond who have very big concerns that parental rights have become an extinguished species in public school education,” said Lee, a barrister and former mayoral candidate.
“Without parental involvement, there will be no school system as you know today. We are running together to make sure we put parents back into the school system and so that parents are not marginalized.”
The slate announced five key issues of focus, which are: promoting parental rights, reviewing the SOGI policy, supporting academic education, no marijuana in schools and seismic upgrades.
“One of our focuses is the SOGI policy,” said Ivan Pak, an IT consultant, who decided to run as a trustee shortly after Richmond’s school board passed the SOGi policy with his fellow Li.
“This SOGI policy, we as Parents’ Slate believe it violates the charter of rights, violates the freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and also lacks the engagement of parents.
“We in the Parents’ Slate strongly disagree with SOGI...if we are elected, we will have the SOGI policy reviewed, we will have SOGI 123 be evaluated independently.”
The slate said it will also work on ensuring that all Richmond schools are “marijuana free” after legalization.
Currently, schools already have policies in place that forbid controlled substances such as pot and alcohol in schools, and Richmond is the only district having DARE, an anti-drug education program, mandatory for Grade 5 students.
Regardless, Li, a travel agent, said they will work together, ”so children understand that consuming marijuana will damage their brain development.”
Charvine Adl, a chartered accountant, accused Richmond schools of slacking on academic education, which he said undermines students’ university potential.
“When I say academic education, I mean primarily English, mathematics and science. These are three things children need to study to get into universities,” said Adl.
He said when his daughter and his friend’s child changed schools, they were evaluated as being one to two years behind in mathematics compared to their peers in the new school.
“Parents don’t know it is happening unless you change schools. Why is it happening? One of the reasons is that teachers are asked to do too much, such as SOGI education.” said Adl.
“Every class they spend on non-academic subjects is one per cent of the curriculum that they can’t teach. We want to empower teachers to focus on academic subjects.”
Like many other slates and trustee candidates, the Parents’ Slate has also expressed their willingness to build city centre schools and initiate seismic upgrade projects if elected.
“We learned that the only money we have is for seismic upgrades, therefore we don’t have city centre schools. These trustees said there is no other way,” said Gong-Quinn, a business owner and realtor.
“If we are elected, we want to work with the Province and say that Richmond needs both. We need city centre school in two years, and we need seismic upgrades as soon as possible.”