Before I begin, remember my disclaimer!
The Canadian Rockies Public Schools (CRPS) Board has a large workload on at the moment. The negotiations between the Alberta School Boards Association (that is our Provincial Association, the “voice” of all 62 locally elected Alberta school boards), the Alberta Teachers Association and the Government of Alberta for a long-term wage/employment agreement are no more: the Minister of Education has mandated a settlement be presented to him very soon by a disinterested third party ; our district’s financial woes are not resolved and that must and will be addressed in the coming weeks; the applications for superintendent are rolling in, with the shortlist to be determined on February 1st; the district calendar consultation continues: 52 pages of raw data to be distilled into the core concerns and issues, keeping the focus on what is best for kids’ learning. These are serious matters which weigh on my mind.
The Minister of Education, Thomas Lukaszuk, has been rolling out announcements over the last few days, making headlines. “Parents will be able to look and see how much money a school board is getting and how much is actually getting into Johnny’s classroom,” is a quote from the January 11th Calgary Herald. Perhaps it is a function of our district’s tiny perfect size, but much of what the Minister is moving on is already happening in CRPS: our meetings – committee and public – are open to the public; trustees attend school council meetings; the budget and financial statements, as well as agendas and minutes, are available from the website. The minister’s 10-point Plan left me, as the kids used to say “meh”. I am glad the PATs and Diploma exams are coming under scrutiny. I appreciate that Mr. Lukaszuk wants to “own” his new portfolio and be seen to be doing what’s best for kids. I am just not sure he appreciates how much is happening already.
And I want transformation of education. So do my fellow trustees. Inspiring Hearts & Minds started us off. Inspiring Education gave us momentum and real hope that the province understood the profound changes needed – not just to maintain the current level of excellence in the provincial education system but to begin to move it to create not just “21st century learners”, but learners for the ages. At the moment politics seem to have gotten in the way; the looming election is colouring the conduct of our leaders.
My fondest, fervent hope is that the posturing that accompanies the short-term goal of an election victory could be set aside; that the actions undertaken in the next little while by those in power will be to the long-term benefit of all Albertans – and most particularly to those most vulnerable.
Meanwhile, like brave optimistic Russell in Disney movie Up, pictured above, I’m putting on my flying goggles, giving the thumbs up and getting on with it… and that’s how I am rolling today.