Michael answers questions from Public School District 44

1. Why do you think public education is important?

MC: Public education is important to me because I was educated in the Public School system and it was there that I learned the love for my chosen profession and life-long learning. Public school is an egalitarian system where people from all socioeconomic groups mingle and learn compassion from integrated students who may have disabilities. I have taught theatre arts for thirty years and currently hold the position of Performing Arts Education Coordinator at The Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam serving School District 43. I have taught Adult Continuing Education classes and after school classes for the Vancouver School Board and currently teach after school drama classes at Burnaby elementary schools through Shadbolt Arts Centre Community Programs. If elected I would be a tireless advocate for arts education including STEAM, the integration of Art into STEM-science, technology, engineering and math education.

2. North Vancouver, as with all school districts, is unique and our local Board of Education is an important representative of local education needs and priorities.  How will you facilitate meaningful involvement between the Provincial Government and Boards of Education to ensure that local needs/priorities are met?

MC: If elected, a New Democrat government would provide stability and proper funding to the North Vancouver School District. Christy Clark had to be forced by the Supreme Court of Canada to restore classroom conditions for our children. That is wrong. We would ensure children have the supports they need to thrive starting with $30 million per year for funding our public school system to ensure students have the school supplies they need to succeed. We would also create an ongoing capital fund for school playgrounds. PACs should not have to fundraise to provide playground equipment and basic school supplies. The New Democrats would respect Boards of Education and provide stable funding and I personally would take a great interest in facilitating Art in Education.

3. What do you think are the most important considerations in meeting the diverse needs of children in our classrooms? 

MC: We are living in a time of rapid automation; a new industrial revolution is happening. Not only will manual tasks like driving and manufacturing soon be performed by robots but with the rise of Artificial Intelligence traditional high-education jobs like medical doctor and lawyer may soon be obsolete. Now more than ever we need to train student for creativity, innovation, communication skills and risk-taking, something that the arts, and performing arts in particular, are very good at. More than anything, I teach my students to be brave, to have courage. When the number one fear that people have in this world is public speaking, the ability to express one’s feelings, ideas and communicate will be essential to life in the 21st century. If elected it would be my great pleasure to be in consultation with the School Board to ensure students in the public system enjoy the benefits of enhanced arts education.

4. If elected, how will you facilitate provincial funding for capital projects, such as new schools, seismic upgrades, renovations and expansions? What are your perspectives on how capital projects should be funded?

MC: If elected a New Democrat government would work with local governments, school boards and communities to build and upgrade schools in North Vancouver. We will accelerate the seismic upgrade program for BC, making schools safer for our students should an earthquake happen during school hours. We will invest in energy efficiency and lighting upgrades for schools, improving the quality of light and learning and put the savings right back into the school system.
5. Given the recent outcome of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, how do you see working with the North Vancouver School District in order to enhance public education?
MC: As an artist and educator I welcome the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. BC’s public school system has been staved of resources for over a decade. It is well past time to reduce class sizes, provide assistance for all students with special needs and hire teacher specialists that can integrate art, creativity and fun into everyday learning. If elected it would be my great pleasure to advocate for the integration of enhanced arts education in North Vancouver schools.