Working together for everyone at their best

Working together for everyone at their best

Telegraph Journal, Saturday September 17, 2016

BCAPI Commentary

The Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI) was pleased to see New Brunswick’s 10-year education plan send a strong message about education in the province – if we want our province to thrive, our children must come first, education outcomes must improve, and it’s up to all of us to make it happen.

The plan, entitled Everyone At Their Best, provides a high level framework for education priorities. Following a province-wide consultation, we have a clear picture of what our children need us to do. We know that our government is committed to education as a priority. It’s now time to work together to improve education outcomes in New Brunswick.

The plan emphasizes specific education outcomes we must strive to meet and has put in place important targets and measures to track our progress. Some children, their families and schools, need more help than others. Our businesses, community organizations and public services must step up and together put in place these essentials:

·       Every child must know they are safe, loved and important to society.

·       High quality early childhood education, for families, helps to shape a child’s brain for life.

·       Early literacy success. Every child must achieve Grade 2 literacy standards.

·       Every student must graduate from high school equipped for post-secondary education, training, employment and adulthood.

·       New Brunswick’s education system is driven by well-trained educators, families and communities that are helping children build core values, behaviours and the essential skills to thrive in the world.

They say it takes a village, and at BCAPI we know and have shown this to be true over the past 15 years working to reduce poverty in Saint John. What we have learned is that it takes everyone (parents, educators, health and social service providers, non-profits, businesses, community and government leaders, and volunteers) working together to bring about change. This begins with a common will to succeed, collective thinking, and determination to alter and blend our resources, services and care, in better ways – most useful for our children.

We also know that education is the primary route out of poverty and that ensuring a child receives a good education is much bigger than a public education system itself. It will take this ‘village’ to be responsible, to embrace it as a priority, to engage, and to bring about real change in our education outcomes in order for our children to succeed.  

We know that by everyone helping and doing their part to enrich the educational progress of our children is the key to success. We have already seen signs of progress in Saint John where education has been a focus of our poverty reduction strategy and collective work (www.LivingSJ.ca):

 ·       More children are entering kindergarten ready to learn;

·       More children are achieving grade 2 literacy standards;

·       More students are graduating from high school;

·       More families are feeling supported by the Saint John community;

·       More organizations and businesses are helping schools and families to build the education culture which we know will end generational poverty and make Saint John and New Brunswick strong; and

·       Public systems are now learning from and engaging with Saint John on many programs. We want to continue to help inform their methods and thinking where we can be helpful and inform public policy to result in better education outcomes.

Failure and success is shared. We know that building a culture of education is worth it and our education system is an essential component. We must continue to test new approaches, evaluate, and improve.

We cannot depend on government alone, to do the job that is intended for all. With their vision, work, and the engagement of everyone, incredible education outcomes are achievable for New Brunswick – outcomes that ensure everyone at their best.  

On behalf of the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI):

Tom Gribbons, BCAPI chair

John Wheatley, chair of the BCAPI Leadership Group

Brice Belyea, BCAPI Leadership Group member and co-chair of the Living SJ Education Team

Katie Bowden