Two sides on the education debate

Letters on the Township of Langley School Trustee election Nov. 19, 2011


Here we go again! So the divisiveness of the school board district supporters continues. The first shot across the bow has been fired by Chris Olewinski.

Unlike the previous writer, I will clearly state my allegiance. I am in full support of Wendy Johnson and Robert MacFarlane returning to their seats as trustees. I know both of them personally and do not see them as one-sided trustees. I challenge anyone to name what actions Johnson or MacFarlane have made in their roles as trustees that have been aligned with unions over the wellbeing of the district or have defied any of the Auditor General’s recommendations.

As Mr. Olewinski did not identify his sources when he stated Johnson wanted to dispose of the current board, be the leader and create her own team it is hard to know where he is getting his information. I actually read Johnson’s press release and watched her video. In fact this is her quote from her press release: (Langley Times, Oct 18, 2011) “The huge school district debt resulted from the inattention of previous trustees and from poor internal controls and out-dated governance practises. We can change all that with a new board of trustees willing to provide real leadership. I’d like to offer that leadership”.

Not sure how that matches Mr. Olewinski’s statements in his letter. What Mr. Olewinski also failed to highlight is Johnson has over 30 years as an educator and administrator in this school district and numerous awards acknowledging her excellence in both. In addition, he missed out the fact that Johnson actually has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of B.C. and perhaps that is one of the many reasons why she can speak to educational leadership.

In closing, I would like to encourage all readers to question letters to the editor (including mine) before jumping to conclusions about the candidates. I also echo Mr. Olewinski’s recommendation to examine all candidates running. Attend all open forums and candidates’ meetings. Ask your questions and demand answers. These are the representatives we have a choice of selecting to shift our district into a positive stance. We need strong leadership in our school board to guide us through some tough years as we climb out of a debt that was created from poor district management prior to 2008.

Tracie Northway, Langley City

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Here it is election time and the unions have once again stepped forward with their endorsements and buckets of money for their chosen candidates.

How different it must be for those candidates who are running because as Langley residents, they care about Langley’s students so much that they work hard to raise their own funds, put up all their own signs and run their own campaigns. I looked back at the Trustee’s January by-election expenses and saw that Cecelia Reekie’s campaign cost almost $7,000 with much of that money being provided by unions. With that much money Reekie was able to litter all of Langley with her plethora of signs and pay for her brochures to be mailed out.

In looking at the other candidates’ funding, most came from their own pockets with Hattie Hogeterp spending $1,200 of her own money and Brian Leonard spending $71.01 on his campaign.

In 2008 current trustees Johnson, McFarlane and Cody received union funding and support.

In this election for Langley School Board, we have Surrey resident Doug Smuland who is also the 1st Vice President of the Abbotsford’s Teachers Association, along with union-endorsed Wendy Johnson, Cecelia Reekie, Megan Dykeman, Rob McFarlane and Candy Ashdown.  While we’ll have to wait until well after the election to look at each candidate’s financials, it should be evident by the amount of signs and election advertising just how generously they’ve been funded. Candidates should publicly be asked prior to the election how their campaigns are being funded.

Interestingly, although the LTA has not yet publicly supported their candidates since they are still apparently in the review process, they have already posted only Ms. Johnson’s information on their LTA website. I have to ask – with a union as strong as the B.C. Teachers Federation, the Langley Teachers Association and the Abbotsford District Teacher’s Association, do they really need to hire their own trustees as well?

I say, this election, we vote for the trustees who are running to represent our students, our school programs and the future of our district and not the unions.

Elizabeth Pahlke, Aldergrove