Partners in Education Abbotsford is dedicated to building a better foundation for our children.
Abbotsford School Trustee Candidate
Why I'm Running
My name is Jared White, and I am running to be a School Trustee in the upcoming Abbotsford municipal election. As an Abbotsford local, I have experienced the public school system from many angles and I firmly believe that a healthy public school system is vital for our communities and our children.
I have listened to hundreds of parents and dozens of teachers over the years and I believe there is much room for improvement in our current system. I experienced this firsthand when I organized hundreds of Abbotsford parents to fight the School Board to save our K-7 Schools in 2016. I believe it is time for the fresh air of change to bring back a truly community and family orientated education system.
Increased emphasis on parental buy-in and involvement is crucial to make this a reality. We cannot continue to do things the way they have always been done. Today's technology is advancing to allow unprecedented levels of integration of home and school. Strong steps have been made in this direction during COVID but much work is left to be done.
As a father to 4 wonderful young children (Grades 4, 5, 10 & 12), including one adoptive son, and as a husband of over 20 years to my college sweetheart, I am passionate about children and families and believe that my presence on the school board would be a tremendous benefit to the parents and citizens of Abbotsford. For several years I have worked very successfully in the non-profit sector, including pastoral roles in local churches, and currently I manage one of the fastest growing charities in BC. I have many years of experience with governance, managing large budgets, and making difficult decisions.
I am running under a "Partners in Education" banner because I want to make children my number one priority by making those who love and care for them equal partners in the education process. I will bring innovation, strong leadership skills, and the ability to work honestly and collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure every student has the best possible learning experience.
If you believe it’s time for a change, please vote for Jared White and Partners in Education on election day.
About Jared White
I am a Dutch, Jewish, Baptist-Catholic who loves to play with my kids, lift weights, and explore Hyrule. I enjoy staying active in the community and I am currently on the finance committee at my home church and on the executive of the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network. Prior to that, I enjoyed several years of coordinating Lego Club at Upper Sumas Elementary and coaching my son’s ice-hockey team.
I am one of those crazy people who loves public speaking! I have a wealth of experience teaching and presenting to kids of all ages and am a regular presenter at independent schools across the Fraser Valley. An iron-worker by trade and a pastor by profession, I currently spends my professional time helping families in crisis in my full-time capacity as Executive Director at Advokate Life & Education Services Society
HAND PARENTS THE REINS
RAMP UP ENGAGEMENT
TRANSPARENCY IS KING!
RESTORE THE RURAL K-7 SCHOOLS
Hand Parents the Reins
Utilizing web based software, like Slido, I will work to make opinion polling of all district parents standard practice when making decisions. When bigger decisions need to be made, we will invest in proper Abacus, Environics (etc.) polls to ensure a high degree of accuracy when seeking out the will of the people. As a Trustee, I will ensure that the wishes of parents are given the highest degree of weight when making decisions that affect their children.
Ramp Up Public Engagement
The COVID-era decision by the School Board to live-stream board meetings is an important step forward in engaging with the average citizen. There are other relatively inexpensive changes that would make board meetings more accessible and compelling to the average citizen. Small changes like adding microphones, so Trustees can be heard during board meetings, and ensuring that any live-feed is accessible, and promoted, on social media, will go a long way to involve many more parents and stakeholders. In addition, I will work to increase question period from a maximum of 10 minutes to a minimum of 30 minutes with options for live, online interaction with those watching the live-feed. Most importantly, as a Trustee, I will work to limit the use of private or “in-camera” meetings for making decisions. All but the most sensitive of discussions should be had in full view of the public to ensure the highest level of confidence in how public education is run.
Transparency is Paramount!
I am a human being and parent first and a trustee second. I will always give frank answers to frank questions. I will strive to be as accessible as my schedule will allow. As a Trustee I will work to ensure that what happens in the classroom and what happens in the board room is a transparent as possible, except when there are legitimate privacy and confidentiality concerns.
Eliminate Bullying/Promote Mental Health
Many principals and teachers do not have the specialized counselling, mediation, and conflict management training necessary to adequately address bullying concerns in their schools. Teachers and Principals do their best but, if we’re going to eradicate bullying, they are going to need more help. As a Trustee, I will work to create new Special Mediator positions in each school whose primary responsibility will be dealing with the parents and children involved in accusations of bullying. This could be done by capitalizing on already existing partnerships in the community with, for example, Restorative Justice. In addition, putting more resources into meaningful mental health intervention (especially sports and clubs!) will be something for which I will strongly advocate.
Reinstate the Rural K-7/8 Schools
There is strong evidence that middle schools are sub-optimal for many of our children. Studies on the topic suggest that moving children away from a place of comfort, where they have carved out a niche for themselves, and uprooting them at such a sensitive time can be damaging to their emotional and social health. Furthermore, much valuable instruction time is spent acclimatizing them to their new environment. There is a good case to be made that a K-8, 9-12 model is ideal for many, if not most, children. That being said, I acknowledge that there are compelling arguments in favour of Middle Schools. For example, Middle Schools typically offer more specialized programs than their K-7/8 counterparts. However, in light of the empirical data in favour of K-7/8 schools, and in light of the hundreds of parents I have personally heard from who believe a K-7/8 model is better for their children, I believe the one-size-fits-all approach the Abbotsford School District has taken to the matter is unfortunate. As a Trustee, I will work to reinstate the traditional six rural elementary schools as K-8 choice schools. I would also support doing a feasibility study of converting other Abbotsford Middle Schools to K-8 schools, if there is parental support for this move.