Ah with 29 MLA’s either resigning or running under a different party colour (thank you Wildrose Defection Fleet). And add to that the “needing a new mandate for the rough economic times ahead” jargon from Premier Prentice with the smoke & mirrors of a 5% Cabinet wage roll back, well…the air this end of winter is smelling like Election.
So it is time to shift gears in our conversations from those things under Federal Jurisdiction in the Constitution Act 1982, to those things under the auspices of the provinces. Within Alberta one of the major things is Schools. The lack of space, the “lottery” horror (c’mon I buy a house across the street from a school, I should be able to have my kids cross the road and go to that school), grading, curriculum, use/over use of technology, lack of schools, and general maintenance being on the decline as there is a shift from janitorial and cleaning to “sanitizing”.
Okay so the state is abysmal, and our lovely Education Minister Gordon Dirks won his seat in a by-election by promising his area to fast track schools, and that promise while the Ethics Commissioner cleared him of wrong doing has been back pedalled on.
So what do we know about Alberta schools funding?
Mostly through Casinos.
There is property tax where a home owner can declare Public or Seperate Board. From the Public monies public schools, charter schools and private schools (private schools receive 70% of their funding from taxes) are funded.
Thoughts are to maintain the status quo.
Move to a grade free system for marking or to move back to a more traditional school curriculum to ensure students learn the basics well, or a hybrid of something in the middle.
For funding, it does need to be funded properly, reliant on an overtaxed volunteer pool and economically strapped homes to continually fund raise is insanity. And this is my only statement on school fees: Unconstitutional.
As for bussing fees? This is only an issue because local public schools cannot handle local students. In the case of special needs students who have no choice on the school they attend it is a disgrace that families need to pay to transport.
Now as for governance of schools there are some things to think through and question candidates and parties on:
1) Should we elect school board trustees?
2) Local boards or mega boards?
3) Eliminate school boards all together and move to a streamlined administrator for each county/city that administers the budgets to local principals and empowers them and the PTA’s to deem hiring choices of staff, etc.
Now comes the touchy questions, what to do with our multiple school systems:
1) Do we strip public monies from private schools?
2) Do we continue to have both public and seperate schools? Charter Schools? Or for better use of monies do we have a plebiscite on merging these all into one streamlined public system?
Even if you do not have children, or yours have grown and left the system, our public education system a cornerstone of a healthy democracy and society. It is where children should learn to care for their community, a public school can become a soul of energy for a community, it is also, and yes this is a scary word, where children learn to value multi-culturalism, and become citizens with healthy and good values. Yes values, morals, ethics, things that aid in building a decent human being. When schools are healthy, and house holds are healthy, and they work together then our children flourish into adults that transform our society for the better.
Where do you stand with the School Question?