After more than seven years as an educational assistant, Pascale Shaw feels she can no longer be silent about the state of the “underfunded” public education system and must speak up as she runs for school board trustee in School District No. 42.
“This is way bigger than the cancellation of the school bus,” said Shaw.
The Save the Maple Ridge School buses campaign, which she and a small group of dedicated parents fought for and won, was a nearly two-year battle, she said.
The school board cut regular school bus service for the 2016-2017 school year to save $650,000, then approved a fee schedule that would have seen parents pay $416 per student. Ultimately, the provincial government restored funding for the service to be given free of charge prior to the last election.
“The system is broken and needs to be fixed,” said Shaw. “I can no longer watch day in and day out as so many children, who so desperately need and deserve our help at schools, don’t get it.”
Shaw said she has first-hand knowledge about what is happening in the system and wants to share that with others.
“I strongly believe that most parents don’t know what is going on in schools today. If they did, they would be standing up and fighting for a better and safer education for their children,” she said.
“Our past provincial government created a system that does not allow for all children to reach their fullest potential. We have so many children with needs today, and our current system is simply not providing enough help, resulting in all children’s learning being compromised.”
Having direct experience with special needs children, Shaw said they need more support.
“Not only do we have children with special needs that are visible, we also have those with less visible needs such as learning delays, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, FASD, mental health, social and emotional challenges and many others, few of which are being adequately supported.”
“I want to be the voice that shares the realities of what is going on in schools today and to be involved in coming up with solutions,” she said.
Shaw has left her position with the school district while she runs for political office. She is on a leave of absence until after the election and would resign her position if elected.
“I am doing this for all the children at school who call me Mrs. Shaw, all of those who ask for or rely on my help daily. These same children are being let down every day because there is simply not enough help to go around. There is no sugar coating here.”
Shaw is married with two school-aged children, one recently graduated. She is a local 4-H leader, PAC member and has volunteered with many organizations.