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Challengers for the African Nova Scotian School Board Member

We asked candidates for the African Nova Scotian Member of the Halifax Regional School Board to introduce themselves and to answer two questions. We received replies from the two challengers. The incumbent, Melinda Daye, let us know that she was unfortunately not able to make our deadline, but that she felt that voters were familiar with her record in the position. We asked candidates to keep their questions to 200 characters or less, and offered them additional space on our election website page, You will find extended versions of Marcus James’ answers on this webpage after the text of the printed article. 

(Each regional school board in Nova Scotia has an African Nova Scotian representative elected to the board by African Nova Scotian electors (an African Nova Scotian or the parent of an African Nova Scotian) in the candidate’s district.)

Can you please tell us why you are running for HRSB school board member for District 1 and what your background is? 

Archy Beals

I am running to be the rep so that I can be the voice of change and action. 

I will listen to your voice and take your concerns to the board. “An effective education is one that is rooted in the valid identity of its students.”  We must make education relevant to the experience and lived reality of the African Nova Scotian learner. Engaging and enfranchising the African Nova Scotian learner and community is paramount to educational success.

I am an indigenous African Nova Scotian born and raised in the community of North Preston, educated in the public school system.  I have worked at the community, local, Provincial and Federal level of government advocating for the African Canadian learner.  I am an educator with over 25 years of experience in the secondary and post secondary education system developing and implementing culturally specific programs for the African Canadian learner.  I hold a M.Ed in Education with a focus in Africentric Leadership.

Marcus James

I have worked at the North Branch Library for the last 22 years where I continue to work with youth and community in North End Halifax. I am also a former Black Student support worker within the HRSB. 

The reason I am running is very simple. There is currently no accountability of the HRSB and they are failing our Black learners, there has been very little progress and nobody is doing anything about it. We need to take a much better approach to address the real issue which is the educational system not working in its current form. As a black parent I am hurt and have every intention on bringing change and accountability. 

 

Question 1: What do you see as the biggest challenges for African Canadian students in HRSB?

Archy Beals

The three biggest challenges for the African Canadian learner are: The high number of IPP’s; the widening achievement gap; and access to more culturally specific programming and services

Marcus James

One of the biggest challenges is the disparity that currently exists in the educational system which is supposed to teach black learners. We have been plagued with high drop-out rates, school suspensions, and poor test scores.(see extended answer below)

Question 2: What changes will you advocate for?

Archy Beals

I will advocate for more culturally specific programming and services, creative ways to provide the culturally specific services and engagement of the African Canadian learner, parents and guardians of African Canadian learners.

Marcus James

I will advocate for a new approach when working with students of African descent. We need greater community involvement when working with teachers and the actual board itself. We need a more proactive, rather than reactive approach.(see extended answer below)

 

In addition to the 200-character limit replies he submitted above, Marcus James also sent us the following longer responses to the questions. 

Question 1: What do you see as the biggest challenges for African Canadian students in HRSB?

One of the biggest challenges is the educational disparity that exists in our school system which is suppose to teach the black learner. High drop-out rates, school suspensions and poor test scores negatively reflect a harsh and ongoing reality. Corrective approaches such as the IPP (Individual Program Plan) appear to be poorly designed and significantly ineffective. And all of these issues have been happening under the watch of the current leadership. We need new leadership that will work to bring about positive change.

Question 2: What changes will you advocate for?

I will advocate for a new approach when working with students of African decent. This approach will emphasize a greater involvement at the parental and community levels. This would include the intent to build strong collaboration with teachers and to ensure that school board accountability is factored in at all levels. We need a more proactive, rather than reactive approach.

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