I put my “money” where my mouth is last week and sent in my nomination for the Board of Trustees elections. The voting papers were sent out today. I’m a little surprised that the part of my statement about the bible classes was allowed to stay in there. Thankfully, the returning officer didn’t consider it “offensive” and left it in.
This blog is part of a story about my experience with religious education in my Daughter’s school. If you missed the start of it, you can find the beginning here.
In standing for a place on the board, I am aware that there is a good chance that I won’t get in. There are existing board members who are re-standing and they are all strong candidates. If they are re-elected, that only leaves one place to fill and there are three new people running including myself.
Someone advised me that I should leave the issue of bible classes off my statement and try to change it after getting elected. However, there are some reasons that is a bad idea.
- It wouldn’t be honest.
I can hardly complain about Christian evangelists sneaking into school rooms under the guise of values and morals teaching if I try to sneak onto a school board by not standing on an issue I believe is really important but controversial.
- It’s an opportunity to inform the whole school community about bible classes being an issue.
A lot of people have no idea about the issue and what the classes really involve. Even though I had to really simplify a very complicated subject, I was able to get the school to send out the very information that they have been trying so hard to hide to all the parents with kids at the school. That has to be a “win” in itself. How much notice parents actually take of the candidate statements and how much weight they will put on what I say is impossible to gauge.
- What if I said nothing then didn’t get elected?
Standing for election without talking about the bible classes would mean that parents would still be uninformed and I also had no place to make a change from within the school. Now that I have said something, if I don’t get elected, at least the information is out there and it will be more of a topic when the school survey asking about “Religious Studies” goes out to parents in 2017. (I’m tenacious if nothing else!)
So anyway… here’s my candidate statement. As you can see, there are other things I want to tackle other than just the bible classes. I even resisted adding a link to this website.
I grew up in Whangarei and lived in the UK for 7 years. I have been self-employed for over 20 years, firstly as an insurance and investment broker, then forming a web design company in 2002.
I would bring some new blood and fresh ideas to the board. I have skills in fundraising, IT, financial planning and business.
I’m a past president of the Northland Property Investors Association and a member of the Northland Chamber of Commerce, BNI Whangarei and the Professional Advisers Association. I sponsor Northland Search and Rescue, the Chamber of Commerce and the Northland Business Awards.
I’m married to Xxxx, with two children, Xxxx (6) and Xxxx (3).
The number of logging trucks accidents in our area is a real cause for concern. The Mangakahia Road entrance can be treacherous at pick up and drop off times. I’d like to look into ways to improve safety around the school.
Bible classes should stop
Our School is a secular (non-religious) State School and I don’t believe we should be providing access to children for any religious groups, whatever the religion. The classes do not teach about religion, they promote faith in a Christian God, the bible, creationism and prayer.
The classes are not approved by the Ministry of Education. Wouldn’t kids be better off spending time learning something else? It seems very unfair when half of us aren’t even Christian. School time should be for teaching, not preaching.
Communication with Parents
School communication is traditionally in the form of one-way notices and emails. There was no forum where parents could communicate with each other on school-related topics. I created the Maungatapere School Parents Facebook group so parents could openly ask questions or discuss problems. You can join it by going to: [link to parents group]
Information for new Parents
When our eldest started at school, we were completely lost. I’d like to see much more information provided to parents to try and smooth the transition into primary school. A new and improved “How to” guide would be a great asset for first-timers.
Vote for me and I’ll work for you and with you to achieve the best we can for our kids.
As I said, there is still a good chance that I won’t get on the board. We live in a rural area and you’re a newcomer if you haven’t lived here for 20 years! I grew up in a rural area over the other side of town, so that practically makes me extra-terrestrial! Opening up a can of worms about bible classes will also lose me some votes from Christians who might otherwise have put a tick by my name. I would like to think that some Christians will agree that it is wrong to teach any faith in a state school. I guess we will have to wait and see. I’ve put my contact details out with the statement as well, so anyone who is interested can contact me to discuss it further.
I did also wonder that losing an election like this may undermine my argument. However, as I’ve repeatedly told the existing board, this is not about my beliefs, it’s about what is right for everyone over what is right for some. You can’t vote on whether or not to discriminate against a sector of society. Even if I do not get on the board, I won’t stop trying to change the situation in this school. Even if the school refuses to change and ends up on the wrong side of history, I have no doubt that within a few years, faith teaching will be abolished within NZ State schools through changes to the law because of growing pressure due to contradictions with the Human Rights Act.