A Critical Analysis of School Community Councils in Saskatchewan
In 2006, School Community Councils came into existence in Saskatchewan. The purpose of School Community Councils (SCCs) is to “develop shared responsibility for the learning success and well-being of all children and youth; and, encourage and facilitate parent and community engagement in school planning and improvement processes” (Saskatchewan Learning, 2005, p. 8). Though these structures have been around for over 10 years, the data to determine their effectiveness in achieving this goal is limited, and what evidence is available suggests a sense of a mandate not achieved (Carlson, 2013; Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2011; Stelmach & Preston, 2008). In 2016, the member Boards of Education of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) passed a resolution calling for a review of SCCs. In 2018, I undertook this learning-oriented evaluation (Dahler-Larsen, 2009) of SCCs in collaboration with the SSBA. The purpose of the review was to determine the current state of SCCs in relation to achieving their mandate, and to recommend to SCCs and education partners in Saskatchewan, areas for improvement. This evaluation sought dialogue with approximately 120 participants, and found that SCCs are not achieving their mandate. Actions by education partners in Saskatchewan are required, and were identified under four broad recommendations. To achieve a critical analysis of SCCs in Saskatchewan, a culturally responsive evaluation (Hopson, 2009; Mertens & Zimmerman, 2015) was also conducted, and four non-SCC parents (Indigenous, newcomers, and visible minority) were interviewed. By utilizing Indigenous methodologies (Kovach, 2009) throughout, and including the perspectives from these four non-SCC parents, valuable insights for education partners in Saskatchewan were raised with respect to welcoming and hospitality in schools, and how beliefs and assumptions of educators and SCC members can affect the SCC. This study includes discussion on how SCC roles can be redefined to attend to relationship-building between home and school. This research study provides SCCs and the education partners in Saskatchewan with research upon which they can draw to make conclusions about the benefits and successes of SCCs and/or to implement changes to support SCCs to achieve their mandate.
school councils, school community councils, parent engagement, community engagement
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)