Long-time public schools’ advocate Duncan Brown is throwing his hat into this fall’s Cowichan School Board elections.
Brown is already known for his involvement with the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers Association, as well as for sitting as chair of the Community Alliance for Public Education.
The alliance advocates for candidates with similar values, and continue to help support them throughout their term.
These values are shared amongst Brown and fellow candidates Hannah Seymour and Eden Haythornthwaite. Therefore, the three are running as a team.
Brown dropped by the Gazette office last week to discuss the values he, and his running mates, are fighting for.
The main values encompass three areas, including funding, open governance, and progressive education opportunities.
With regard to funding, Brown said, “It’s crucial, if we’re going to deal with many of the issues in our schools.”
The current teacher dispute is merely a symptom of constant cutbacks over the past decade, leading to a lack of support for special needs, counsellors, too large of classrooms, amongst various other issues.
“These are all things that have been systematically eroded,” he said. “If we want to address any of these problems, we need to address funding.”
Governance is a touchy item with many who have seen the school board discuss things behind closed doors, Brown said.
“There’s very little that should be discussed in close within our board,” he said.
The main issue that Cowichan Lake area residents can relate frustration to is the behind closed doors discussions around the buying and selling of property.
This issue brings to mind the J.H. Boyd property, as well as discussions around what to do with the AB Greenwell Elementary School property in Lake Cowichan.
Millions of dollars spent on a high school in Duncan could also have an effect on Lake Cowichan Secondary School.
These discussions should be out in the open, he said.
“The board should hear from just about every delegation that wants to speak to the board,” he said.
His values in relation to progressive education opportunities are a little harder to define, but encompass things like appropriate class size, as well as friendly relationships within the schools.
“I don’t think you can teach anything without a relationship. You need that feeling of warmth,” he said. “I believe that our small schools have that.”
One fear is that schools will move more and more toward learning through cold, heartless computers.
“That’s my fear; it will be tech-driven and pull away from the social aspect of school,” he said.
As a trustee, Brown said, he will certainly bring Cowichan Lake to the table whenever possible.
“The main concern in Lake Cowichan is a new elementary school, and the fear of losing the high school,” he said.
This is why all schools must have the same basic programs and electives, within reason, so that students aren’t forced to move outside their community to get the education they need to succeed.
The Cowichan School Board elections are to take place in November, in conjunction with the Town of Lake Cowichan and the CVRD elections.
The Gazette will provide information on all candidates, in all local elections, as the election date gets closer; including the Cowichan School Board candidates.
Current trustee Diana Gunderson, who lives at Cowichan Lake, said that she’s not sure if she’ll be running again or not.
“I’ve had two terms. To me, it depends on who is running,” she said, adding that it’s nice to see Brown running.
“I’m saving my decision for the last moment. It wanted to make sure that a local person is on-board.”