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Our hopes and dreams for public education

Dr. Steve Cardwell, Chair, Institute for Public Education/BC


We know there are significant pressures facing our valued public education system—overcrowding, chronic underfunding, a growing teacher shortage, and inadequate support for students with diverse learning needs—to name just a few. These cracks in our school system command our immediate attention and require our concerted advocacy. 


However, when we’re focused on the problems and pressing for much-needed solutions, it can be difficult to create the space to talk about the future of public schools and learning. But shouldn’t we be talking about our collective aspirations and ideals? What are our hopes and dreams for public education in BC?


The Institute for Public Education/BC (IPE/BC), a non-partisan, independent organization that provides analysis, research, and leadership, has launched a community engagement research project posing that very question. Through our Hopes and Dreams project, we’re asking British Columbians to share their perspectives. At the conclusion of the consultation, we’ll publish a report to help inform education policy development and decision-making in BC.

What do communities value about their public schools and what do they hope and dream can be achieved?


IPE/BC firmly believes that quality, inclusive, and accessible public education is key to a strong democratic society and, equally as important, that our school system must be democratically governed. That’s never more important than in these turbulent and frequently disturbing times. But in order to do their very best in their roles, school trustees, the Minister of Education and Child Care, and MLAs need a deep understanding of all that public education can achieve. What do communities value about their public schools and what do they hope and dream can be achieved? We see this project as an important discussion among British Columbians.


The impetus for the Hopes and Dreams project is linked to the Charter for Public Education, created through an extensive community consultation that took place in 2003. At that time, a five-member panel travelled the province asking these questions:

  • What is an educated person; what are their characteristics?

  • Which of these characteristics are developed through the public schools?

  • What is an educated community?

  • What are the principles of public education?


Based on the submissions and dialogue, an eloquent and compelling charter was created, a document that can still be seen on the walls in many public schools around the province today. However, the charter is now 20 years old and a lot has changed in our schools since that consultation took place. For example, the commitment to act on reconciliation and decolonization in schools was not yet in place, nor was the clear understanding that all children, including those with special and diverse learning needs, must be welcomed and well-supported in public schools. The curriculum has also changed considerably over the last 20 years, and technology plays a much greater role in education today than it did in the early 2000s. So, it became clear that there is a need to hear from British Columbians again and the Hopes and Dreams project was born.


How is the consultation being conducted this time? Firstly, IPE/BC is determined not to rush the process. We  want to ensure there’s enough time for as many people as possible to learn about and participate in the project. Therefore, we’re committed to taking at least a full year to collect submissions. Additionally, we have created a number of different pathways to engagement in person and online. At IPE/BC Hopes and Dreams you’ll find all the information you need to share your thoughts through a handy submission form, by email, or on social media. We’ve already met with many people directly at conferences, meetings, and other gatherings, and would certainly appreciate additional invitations. Are you involved in an event where we could connect with people to hear their views? Don’t hesitate to contact us at with your ideas or requests.


What are your hopes and dreams for public education in BC? What do you think public schools need? What would a truly equitable, inclusive, and diverse system look like? We certainly hope that you’ll join in this project and share your perspectives with us.

To learn more, visit the following links: 



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