Is SOS losing the plot?

Support our Students (SOS) started in late 2014 and gained prominence in 2015 during the Alberta Provincial election producing a video to campaign to MLA’s and would be MLA’s to properly fund education. It can be seen at the end of a CBC article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-school-trustees-demand-government-reinstate-funding-1.3040960 which was followed up with an online e mail campaign. Some might argue that SOS’s impact lead to a government commitment to sustainable increased education funding.

Their stated goals on their website is “Support Our Students was born on the playgrounds of Alberta. Our experiences’ as parents witnessing the impact of chronic underfunding of public education on our children inspired us to organize. We believe in a public education system that is fair and equitable to all Albertan children. A public system where funding keeps pace with growth and every student is supported in a healthy and secure learning environment.”

ALL of these things ARTICS can get behind. We are all about encouraging citizens to speak out and be a part of the solution with their school board. Funding is a HUGE part of a good education. Public engagement, transparency and accountability for decisions from our Public School board are what we focus on.

ARTICS has been called a “public education advocacy group” and a “watchdog” for CBE Trustees. It disturbs us greatly when a group that claims to advocate “for” public education is doing so by advocating “against” another group of students and parents that choose choice. We too value a strong Public education system. 95% of Alberta students choose public education and together (citizens and school boards) we can make it better.

Recently in early 2017 , SOS advocacy has turned to attacking a part of what British Prime Minister David Cameron not so long ago called the best English speaking Education System in the world. SOS joined a group of Union’s, Labour groups and Edmonton Public Schools to advocate for eventual elimination for Public funding of Private schools. It’s important to note that slightly more than 4% of Alberta students attend Private Schools. While many of them pay extra tuition to attend, many others choose it for reason’s of special needs or unique learning environments that have nothing to do with their parents social status.

In recent months though, they have taken it a step further applauding extra costs for busing for Public School Alternative schools or “Schools of Choice” adding they “separate and segregate” students. They have called for the elimination of all choice and that the community school is where your students “should go”.

And then yesterday’s shocking and shameful series for tweets for your eyes below:

and the resulting newspaper article: http://www.metronews.ca/news/calgary/2017/08/14/sos-alberta-tweets-relating-events-in-charlottesville-to-schools-of-choice-shameful-says-calgary-education-advocate.html  with no apology for using this violent, racist event in Charlottsville to further an agenda. Are they that certain that mandating where you must educate your children, in one community school is the right way to promote inclusion? or a “healthy and secure learning environment?” The removal of all choice equates to a Utopian, non racist society? If so, we’d love to see and hear evidence based arguments for such a practice.

I will let the reader decide those answers. For ARTICS, we will continue to promote YOUR civic duty to learn about your candidates for Trustee and vote for the person that best fits with your philosophy of schooling in YOUR public school system.

Get engaged Calgary.

Who’s running in 2017?

We will be updating this information as it becomes available, right up until election day if need be. ARTICS wishes all candidates the best of luck and encourage all voters to learn about each of the candidates and please, vote for the person who best represents your priorities. We desire good people at the trustee table to have solid vigorous debate and make good decisions. Transparently, Accountably and Responsive to the electorate. All views are welcome and encouraged in a good democracy.

Elections Calgary Candidate Profiles: http://www.calgary.ca/election/Pages/meet-the-candidates/school-trustee/default.aspx 

Wards 1 and 2

Gord Cummings

Website: https://www.gordc4trustee.ca/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gordc4trustee

Twitter: @gordwcummings

Trina Hurdman

(incumbent in Wards 6 and 7, moves to Wards 1 and 2)

Website: http://www.trinahurdman.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Trina.Hurdman.Trustee/

Twitter: @trinaYYC

Wards 3 and 4

Althea Adams

Website: http://altheaadams.studentscount.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AltheaAdamsTrusteeCandidate/

Twitter:

Kim Tyers

Website: https://www.kimtyers.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimtyersyyc/

Laura Hack

Website: http://laurahack.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laura.hack.3720

Twitter: @LauraHack34

Nimra Amjad

Website: http://www.votenimra.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NimraAmjad4CBETrustee/

Twitter: @nimraar

Wards 5 and 10

Bianca Smetacek

Website:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BiancaSmetacekTrusteeCandidate/

Twitter: @bianca4trustee

Gurpreet Singh Grewal

Can’t find any online presence…

Jameela Ghann

Website: http://www.jameelaghann.com/

Jasbir Chahal

Can’t find any online presence…

Marilyn Dennis

Website:  marilyndennis.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marilyn-Dennis-Trustee-Candidate-Wards-5-10-314351209006001/

Twitter: @marilyndyyc

Pamela King

(incumbent)

Website: www.pamela-king.com (web address from 2013, not live)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Trustee.Pamela.King/

Twitter: @PamelaKing510

Raman Gill

Can’t find any online presence…

Rekha Dhawan (Elections Calgary has left off their profiles)

Website: http://www.teacherfortrustee.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeacherforTrustee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/teacher4trustee

Sohail Sherwani

Can’t find any online presence…

Syed Hasnain

Can’t find any online presence…

Veerpal Rai

Can’t find any online presence…

Wasima Sultan

Website: http://www.wasimasultan.com/

Wards 6 and 7

Lisa Davis

Website: http://lisadavis.studentscount.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaDavisTrustee

Twitter: @Lisadavisyyc

Patricia Bolger

Website: http://www.patriciabolger.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaBolgerforTrustee/

Twitter: @patriciajbolger

Wards 8 and 9

Merle Terlesky

Website: http://www.voteterlesky.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TerleskyYYC/

Twitter: @MerleTerlesky

Richard Hehr

Website: http://www.richardhehr.ca/

Twitter: @richardhehr

Sabrina Bartlett

Website: http://sabrinabartlett.studentscount.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SabrinaBartlettTrusteeCandidate/

Twitter: @Trusteesabrina

Wards 11 and 13

Julie Hrdlicka

(incumbent)

Website: http://www.juliehrdlicka.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/electJulieHrdlicka/

Twitter: @julie_hrdlicka

Sadiq Valliani

Website: http://sadiqvalliani.studentscount.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrusteeSadiq/

Twitter: @SadiqValliani 

Wards 12 and 14 

Carla Obuck

Can’t find any online presence…

Jennifer Seamone

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferSeamone4trustee/

Twitter: @JSeamone

Karen Lynn Draper

Can’t find any online presence…

Mike Bradshaw

Website: http://mikebradshaw.studentscount.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mike-Bradshaw-Trustee-Candidate-1704889793148124

Twitter: @mikebyyc

Muzaffar Ahmad

Can’t find any online presence…

Samantha MacLeod

Website:  samanthafortrustee.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samanthafortrustee/?hc_location=ufi

Sara Peden

Website: http://sarapeden.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/SaraJPeden/

Twitter: @SaraJPeden

Shauna Eldan

Website: (e mail) Seldan4trustee@shaw.ca

Twitter: @cbeeldan

Tory Tomblin

Website: http://www.torytomblin.ca/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yyctory/

Twitter: @yycTory

Does defunding Private Schools help public education?

Bravo to our Calgary Public School trustees for NOT following in the footsteps of the Edmonton Public Board and making a meaningless motion to defund Private Schools. You might want to bookmark this one! ARTICS is praising Trustees for NOT doing something.

Every few years, the debate surfaces. This year, spurred on by a motion put forward in the legislature by PC leader Ric McIver that commits the government to nothing. McIver introduced Private Member’s Motion No. 504 to urge the government “to affirm its commitment to allowing parents the choice of educational delivery for their children, including home, charter, private, francophone, separate, or public education programs“. The Government and Education Minister had already said publicly that the funding for Privates and Charters (choice) would be supported in the 2016-2017 Provincial Budget, which it was.

Before anyone spoke a word in the house about this motion, Public Interest Alberta came out with a Blog post condemning the funding of Private and Charter schools, calling on the Government to defund them all now. The Fraser institute published their own findings which spurred debate on Twitter spurred on by directors of Public Interest Alberta and ATA members with one former PC cabinet minister on the topic. As Churchill famously said, “The first casualty of war is the truth”. This war of words is decades old in this province.

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Some Calgary education advocates got into it devolving unfairly into personal attacks. It is a shame that Union and political differences can get emotions running so high. So to the question, would defunding private schools help public education? The PIA blog states “Last year the Alberta government gave over $200 million in public funds to private schools.” In a recent Calgary Herald article, “Lisa Davis, vice-president of CAPSC, said if the CBE reduced the percentage of its $1.3 billion budget split between administrative costs and school and instructional supports to the same level of the Calgary Catholic School District’s, it would mean an extra $160 million that could go back into classrooms.”

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For some context, 4% of Albertans choose Private Schools, and the total overall budget for the Province to private schools is $200 Million. The Calgary Board of Education appears to outspend the Calgary Catholic District in administration alone to the tune of $160 million. The answer is clear that defunding private schools would not make public education better, nor would it necessarily get to students on the front lines who need special supports. A funding review of not how much each board gets, but how it is distributed and how it is spent is something that the public would benefit from. Afterall, it is the law that only 4% of school funding should be spent on administration. That is clearly not the case with Alberta’s largest school board. That is clearly laid out in the above mentioned Calgary Herald article. Those who advocate for a strong Public Education system are taking their eyes off the ball if they argue that defunding Private Schools is better for the Public system.

If Parents and average Calgarians want to help make Public Education the best it can be, the focus should clearly be on your local public school board. Look at what they spend, where they spend it and where the priority of your trustees and administration lies. Make certain your board knows your priorities and shares your priorities. Get engaged at election time and elect someone who shares your educational priorities. Stay tuned and we will share important information to help you get involved with that. ARTICS has and will always advocate for our Public School Board to be Accountable, Transparent and Responsive to encourage and help citizens to run as a Trustee or help a campaign. CAPSC has done a fantastic job this year in advocating for our Students and Parents, pointing out issues publicly and helping parents get their voices heard. SOS seems bent on getting all the money sent to the Calgary Board of Education to do with it what they will. A wise person once said, you’ll never solve money problems with more money. If you make the public system the best choice then the alternatives won’t need to be there.

More questions than answers with CBE International Travel announcement.

Late on Thursday November 26th, this appeared on the CBE website: Information about international travel. In a nutshell, ” For now any schools planning international trips have been asked to pause trip planning activities.”

Reaction Friday morning was swift from the media and from parents affected.

 

 

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In the release, they refer to “Recent global events” as the reason for this pause. The attacks in Paris were a full 2 weeks prior to this release. In fairness, we have no idea when and where any planned trips are going, but the public is going to react to the speed of such a statement. Why make this announcement now? Why rush to announce before winter break?

And a briefing with less than 24 hours notice:

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Our biggest concern, and what we hope is a concern for our Trustees, is do we not have policies in place already that keep student and guardian safety as the number one priority when considering international travel? What did the events of Paris change? The world has been witness to unstable countries all around the world since country states have been established. Our Foreign Affairs office has issued Travel warnings for many countries for decades. The threat of terrorism in this millennium has been at the forefront of the news.

So what is the international travel policy? The only policy (administrative regulation) we could find that is relevant is AR 3027 Off-Site Activities the details of which refer to the Off- Site Activities Procedures Manual on most of the policy statements. We could not find the Off- Site Activities Procedures Manual publicly. One would hope that any parent whose student is going on an international trip is privy to the details of this manual.

To be clear, we support ANY public engagement involving discussion and possible concerns from those that are affected. So having a public discussion on an International Travel Policy from time to time is prudent and welcome. Proper notice of such a meeting and time for consideration including all relevant information is also welcome and prudent.  What is of concern is  “pausing” of International Travel, citing “Recent global events” as the reason serves to cause unnecessary angst amongst those affected and uncertainty amongst parents of the safety of their children.

Stay safe.

 

We’re back!

You might wonder if we are still operating due to the lack of Blogs… there was much discussion by us and others in the media over the early months of this school year over a number of issues around the Trustee’s responsiveness, Transparency and Accountability and filled the need. NEW Blogs are coming….

Fake it until you make it.

With a new provincial government in transition and ready to take power, your Board of Trustees and Administration made an interesting decision. Administration had prepared a budget based on the budget that was announced by the previous government, with a reduced allotment for education funding. After the election, we know that budget is out the window. So what should the school board do now? The law states that school board budgets must be presented to the Minister of Education by May 31st. Administrators need to present a budget to Trustees on May 12th in order to reach this deadline.

A change in government hasn’t happened in Alberta in 44 years, so there is no “best practice” or experience on how to revise the budget. Although many school boards in other provinces have dealt with this, the ministry of education likely has an opinion and the new MLAs could offer an insight on how the school boards could most realistically revise their budget, none of these measures appear to have been discussed. In fact, the CBE administration appears to have decided to just make it up as they go.

The numbers contained in this “interim” budget are just made up. It would not be reasonable to budget as though no additional money were forthcoming. That would mean making unnecessary layoffs, just to rehire later. But there is no guarantee that the numbers promised by the new government during the campaign will be fully implemented in the short term. It would seem reasonable to assume 1/6th of the money promised in the NDP platform budget, given that CBE students represent 1/6th of the student population (approximately $20 million, although administrators were using the proportion of 1/5th). But, instead, as one administrator pointed out, the CBE will assume that the revenue would be all that we need to fully fund student enrolment growth (approximately $40 million).

Then, around noon hour on May 12th as the public board meeting was starting where this budget was discussed, the Premier-elect announced she was asking Alberta Education to extend the deadline by one month. The chair of the board read this statement from Premier-elect Notley at the meeting, some 90 minutes after the public announcement. Great news right? We don’t have to present and debate this fictitious budget, right? We can table it until we get some real numbers, right? Not so fast.

The board asked questions of administration about this pretend budget for close to 2 hours. The budget also appears on the agenda for voting at the next board meeting on May 19th. So while the new Government has given time for boards to revise and create a realistic budget, based on actual revenue from the new government, the Calgary Board of Education is rushing forward, in an unknown direction. They may be fortunate and not have to adjust this pretend budget, but there is no guarantee whatsoever that this budget will offer the school board all the money they want. The only reasonable route would be for trustees to take time to clarify the amount of revenue that the new government will offer and direct administration to create a realistic budget around that. So Trustees, what are you voting on?

So who should you vote for in Ward 11 and 13?

With an election happening in 9 days (April 13th) and advance polls open, have you decided who to vote for? If not, we hope to help with this rundown. All 5 Candidates had a chance to speak about their positions on a variety of issues. It was the first time we had a chance to hear from all of the candidates together. At the forum, I found it interesting that ALL candidates answered the question “Should Authority over schools be with CBE Administration or Principal” with “The Principal”.

In reverse alphabetical order, lets start with Wilf Phillips. Wilf ran for trustee in 2013, coming 3rd against long time Trustee Lynn Ferguson. On his website, he promises Transparency, Integrity, Accountability. He describes himself as a life long learner, with 37 years in Public Education as a teacher and life long Calgarian. During the Forum, he spoke often about “probing” questions, saying he doesn’t just accept the first answer that comes along. He feels a trustee should dig deeper and he won’t just blindly accept what someone is telling him. At the forum he expressed his thoughts on the technology in schools being “archaic”, adding many computers are hand-me-downs. He also advocated for less time spent in private meetings.

Victoria Morgan doesn’t have a Website, but a Facebook page, which says very little about what she stands for. She has been vocal on social media and regular media of late about her views on parent fundraising using Casino funds. While she feels it it wrong to have 3 different Government departments fund the classroom (Alberta Ed, Alberta Gaming and Alberta CIP Grants) and making parents work these Casinos to provide basics (not extras), as a Trustee she would not ask her colleagues to support the CBE rejecting Casino funds, but ask the Provincial Government to change the way they fund schools. During the Forum, she spoke about less time in private meetings, and suggested using the Corporate Approach to cut the “nice to haves” like travel, hospitality and off site meetings. When speaking about engaging the public, she says we need to speak to students as they are becoming more vocal on issues. She stated twice she’s been disillusioned in the board decision-making, having been denied the opportunity to have her say.

One could describe Sean McAsey as the wild card in this race. Two issues were brought forward by him and are also strongly expressed on his newly live website. One being Corporate partnerships. From his websiteThere are many millions of dollars that can be infused into the CBE by partnering with the private sector.” This line alone could make you love him, or run the other way. A strong bold issue to be sure. He added at the forum that he wouldn’t question Administration expenses and only focus on raising revenue. The other issue Sean feels strongly about is living in the Ward. Again from his website “Unfortunately, two of the individuals running for trustee in this election are not residents of wards 11 or 13.  Outsourcing representation for our wards is NOT an option.” I am sure the other 2 residents that are running appreciate his support, if you feel strongly about that issue. Many Trustees have been elected that do not live in their Wards. In some cases, their children go to school in the Ward. There are elected Trustees that do not have any children going to school at all. This issue, while often mentioned by candidates, doesn’t seem to be a factor at the ballot box.

Karen Lloyd is the past President of CAPSC (Calgary Association of Parent and School Councils) and she feels strongly that in that role she has already been doing the job of Trustee. It’s on her website, she said so at the forums and on social media. Parental Engagement needs to be taken to the people she said at the Forum. Quoted in Metro from the Forum “They don’t have time for the 1964 model of going to a regular meeting and hauling themselves to this and to that place,” Lloyd said. “We need to take the school and the meetings to them.” She shares the fact that CAPSC lost funding and she was able to manage a tight budget and also feels her campaign is a good example of being fiscally responsible with smaller campaign signs. I can honestly say I have only seen 2 candidates’ (Lloyd and Hrdlicka) signs thus far (but don’t live in the area). I’d be willing to bet at least two of the other candidates will spend less than Lloyd. Wilf spent $1122.81 in 2013. She stated she is the only one of the five candidates that regularly attends board meetings and would like the public board to make a strong case for students staying rather than worrying about funding for other boards. Karen has many Blogs on her website for more in depth views.

Julie Hrdlicka was first out of the gate announcing her candidacy early and launching her campaign well ahead of nomination day. Julie stated at the Forum her entire professional career has been spent as an advocate making her ready for the job. During the forum she spoke against Private and Charter schools saying all kids should have equal opportunity. Not much a trustee can do about that, but advocate to the province. She put a finer point on the disconnect between the board and its citizens, referencing the lack of consultation with the Christine Meikle school re location adding the CBE is a huge bureaucracy and that parents need help to navigate it. From her website “I believe one of the roles of trustees is to help parents understand the system,” also adding many parents do not know the role of Trustee and what they do. From Julie’s website ” I will find more opportunities to consult with parents about issues important to their children. I have been bringing communities, organizations, and individuals together to address complex public issues for many years.” Also from her site, Julie strongly states “I will commit to working with the CBE, the City of Calgary, parents, community groups, schools, and local childcare providers to come up with ideas and initiatives to open up affordable spaces.” Although this is not typically something Trustees have been involved with, I can imagine families appreciating work toward this solution.

The Metro News article about the forum cites most of the candidates, who agree that “We continue to be underfunded, we continue not to have the support staff that we need, the support for kids with special needs, the huge workloads for teachers.” To be clear, every single trustee in recent memory have “advocated” to the province for more funding. Whoever wins this race will add their voice to the choir. Trustees can only ask or advocate to the province for more funding. Voters should focus on issues that Trustees have power to change. There are many good solid Trustee issues stated here by all the candidates. Still undecided? Check out CAPSC video of the forum along with some live tweets from Jeremy Nolais of Metro News and a couple links to news coverage: http://capsc.ca/2015/04/trustee-by-election-forum-for-wards-11-13-candidates/. Get informed Ward 11 and 13 and get out there and vote on April 13th.

Who’s Running? Ward 11 and 13 By-election

The CBE Trustee by-election in Wards 11 and 13 will be held on April 13, 2015. We will be updating this information as it becomes available, right up until election day. ARTICS wishes all candidates the best of luck and encourage all voters to learn about the candidates and vote for the person who best represents you.

Please let us know of any additional information to add. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

CAPSC Candidate Forum on March 31st, video available, click here.

Julie Hrdlicka:

Website: Juliehridlicka.ca

Facebook: http://www.facebook.comp/ElectJulieHrdlicka

Twitter: http://twitter.com/julie_hrdlicka

Karen Lloyd:

Website: http://www.karenlloyd.ca

Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenRuthLloyd

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KarenLloydTrustee

Sean McAsey:

Website:  www.seanmcasey.ca

Victoria Morgan:

Website: http://www.victoriamorgan.ca

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vicmoyyc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Morgan-Trustee-Candidate/309823099227132?sk=timeline

Wilf Phillips:

Website: http://www.wilfphillips.ca/

Herald Candidate page from 2013: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Wilf+Phillips+Candidate+Calgary+Board+Education+Wards/9053308/story.html

Email: wilf.phillips@wilfphillips.ca

CBE Trustee Forum 2015 - All Candidates