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Blog: Monday, June 4th, 2018

Keeping the Public Confidence

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

It should not be lost on any of us about the important role our education system plays in our society. Nelson Mandela famously and properly stated that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing needless deaths and illness, and to fostering peace.” In sum, educating our children is our best hope of creating a better world. 

When we have such a powerful and positive “weapon” as we do in this province, we must treasure, protect, preserve and celebrate it with all our hearts, minds... and words. When by all accounts we have one of the best and most equitable education systems in the world, one that researchers are seeking to understand, and other countries are trying to emulate, each of us must endeavour to honour it. We must celebrate the work of the dedicated teachers, principals and support staff, who every day bring their very best to make our schools the success stories they have become in the last two decades. 

Admittedly, the system is by no means perfect. We are not nearly as inclusive as we ought to be, not nearly as innovative as we aspire to be, and not nearly as efficient as the public expects us to be. But we continue to work at it. I actually think that part of our very strength is our dissatisfaction with just being ‘very good’. The educational modernization underway in BC is built on the promise of continuous improvement. We will be better tomorrow than we are today. I have every confidence that a few years from now BC will be seen as the jurisdiction which best captured the ideals of the transformation efforts now underway around the world. 

However, as we prepare to make this monumental leap for greatness, it is important that we do all we can to build public confidence in our education system. Short of a general abiding faith in education, the public knows little about the inner workings of the K-12 sector. They generally do not have all the facts associated with our issues, and must rely on the media and those inside the system to understand the complex challenges we sometimes face. The shifting image of the media often means that the public needs reliable sources inside our education system to understand the complexities that occasionally plague us.

It is therefore incumbent on us, particularly those of us in positions of authority and influence, to be judicious, thoughtful and truthful about what we say publicly about our education system. Discourse is helpful and necessary, but careless discourse harms us all. We must be as thoughtful in sharing the positive as we are in reckless in griping about the negative. We must be as disciplined about the facts as we are carefree with hearsay. We must be as courageous in correcting mistruths, as we are circumspect in challenging dogma. We must be as creative in surfacing solutions as we are undisciplined in airing our problems. Our children are watching. 

The BBC published a news article last fall calling Canada an educational superpower. With arguably the strongest education system in the country, BC is seen on the world stage as a superman of sorts. You can understand why I am bewildered that we continue to manufacture kryptonite. 

By Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden
Dr. Kevin Godden

By Dr. Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.