Shortly after the 2010 election a group of former trustee and trustee candidates got together and formed ARTICS. It was widely acknowledged by most at the time that the board of trustees had become a club dominated by private meetings and voted en masse in public meetings to always rubber stamp what administration was presenting. Everything was great, don’t rock the boat, nothing to see here. For the most part, the public didn’t seem to care, especially at election time. The only time new trustees came on board is when an incumbent had decided not to run.
ARTICS was formed to focus on 3 things as we still do today. Accountability, Transparency and Responsiveness to the public from the board of Trustees. The basic democratic principal of those that are elected are responsible to the electorate. Boards during this time seemed more interested in supporting what administration wanted and justifying that with their interpretation of board policy.
The 2010-2013 board looked at ARTICS as the enemy. The relationship was very adversarial and every time we commented on decisions and spoke publicly seemed to make the majority of trustees angry. Their marketing tag line at the time was “Learning as unique as every student” which wasn’t backed up by action very often listening to the issue’s parents were having advocating for their students in those years.
In 2013, three of our members decided to run for school trustee. The Chief Superintendent resigned and the long time Chair of the board stepped aside. Could this be a sign that our work was having an affect on the public? Were we having an impact? Well, not so fast!!! After that election, one of three won a seat. The incumbents we lost to were status quo, don’t rock the boat trustees. It seemed the public didn’t care about our message?
The 2013-2017 board, the first board to have a four year term, turned out to be another status quo group after much promise at election time. After all, we had 3 new trustees and an outspoken trustee back and elected as Chair. Status Quo, don’t rock the boat governance continued from day one with an agreement on day one that trustees would only speak to the media through the Chair. This lasted only weeks as a couple of trustees had second thoughts on it and that started them down a path of mistrust. During this time ARTICS re evaluated itself and it’s role and took a much quieter approach. Other groups filled that vocal void and took some hard positions on many issues, positioning themselves as left and right whether they wished to or not, the other painted them that way.
On Friday October 27th, 2017 Trina Hurdman, one of ARTICS founders, was elected Chair of the Board of Trustees. Will the 2017-2021 board be that change that ARTICS discussed 7 years ago? Will this group be able to bring transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the Calgary Board of Education? Will they be able to gain the public’s trust through this process and make good decisions for all students? Time will tell, but they have the opportunity to do so, with 5 new trustees elected and no more “status quo” trustee’s that held this board back for so long. The recipe is there, now lets watch this cake rise! As happened with the last board, they now start with a search for a new Chief Superintendent, the most important decision they will make.
Thanks to Carole Oliver, Laura Shutiak, Trina Hurdman, Victor Lough, Josh Traptow and Robert Hurdman for the vision that created ARTICS . We continue.