Posts Tagged ‘Calgary Board of Education’


Haggai was a minor prophet, one of the 12, whose work only lasted 3 months yet had an indelible impact on the people of Israel in his cry for justice. It is a short 2 chapters that packs a punch, but can be summed up rather well within these three verses in chapter 1:

 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

-Haggai 1:4-6 (English Standard Version)

It is the epic look in the mirror moment. The people are back from the exile in Babylon and slacking on the rebuild. Only certain folks are being cared for, not all. Yet all are working hard, but not being heard. It made me reflect on this last little bit in current events around what a newer version of this prophet for the 21st Century would look like. What would be our call to look in the mirror be for us? For Haggai it was calling out the bully-class post exile to get all refocused on what they should be. Change direction, get on track to not be those that were taken to be non-humans in Babylon.

Let’s check out on this and our own bully culture. At the national level, the incumbent Prime Minister, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau at an event in Mississauga had to wear a bullet proof vest and have a security detail with his family taken into protection due to a security risk to his life. This is the outcome of rhetoric around treason, preying on people’s anger and fear as we are in the midst of transition with our economy and are lacking leadership in our province to make the shift, to diversity, and continue to prosper. It is a bully culture where even our leaders make the other person, party, idea an other, a horror, something dehumanized so that this is an outcome…and that those who believe the one entrenched belief do not even blink that now we have to have political leaders wearing bullet proof vests.

Haggai today in Canada…look at the house you are inhabiting?

Greta, is in Alberta, and going to be at the Legislature tomorrow for a climate strike. Our government officials want her to learn about our resource sector, but refuse to meet with her. And a bunch of crotchety old men, are rolling out of Red Deer for a counter-protest. A movement that has been linked to some other less than savory movements. It is funny in the rhetoric of children are our future, our leaders, we do everything we can to suppress, abuse or disavow their voice. In fact we fear it. Much like how Haggai spoke of working hard but harvesting little, we pooched the high times of oil, and now have nothing in its decline, yet instead of getting on track so all can be fed and warm we want to wallow in it.

Yet, the look in the mirror, is strongly reserved for the Calgary Board of Education, and the University of Calgary review of bullying after the suicide of a nine year old student. With the answer after interviewing administrators and teachers, that there is nothing to see here essentially. It is a culture built on toxicity within the administration, where superintendents have directed venom and bullying towards concerned parents, referred to children with disabilities as its. It is an organization, sadly, paying lip service to the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. It is an organization that for years had the Me to We movement and challenge days in the early 2000’s…yet it has faded from that. To a place where lawnmower and helicopter parents, and educational leaders bully to get their way. Where “parent choice” creates space to out kids in GSA’s. Where segregation rooms are okay, and our boards petition the government to keep this archaic practice alive.

Where when bullying is brought forward, apologetic under the guide of trauma informed practice are brought forward to the bullied. “They are having a bad day” or “it wasn’t fully your fault” or “wasn’t directed your way” or simply ignored. When we had to confront bullying, the only way we got heard was the teacher let slip the student was 12 years old so I pulled out my phone, when asked why, I stated it was now a police matter.

That is a look in the mirror moment for our society that serves families, and our here and now leaders like Greta. It needs to be a historic safe space of discovery and learning to become fully formed citizens. Our Calgary Board of Education with the usual Calgary Ostrich solution (for more on this, read my memoir Soul Ripples) to issues instead of unpacking, and solving them.

Is it going to take a look in the mirror where parents begin phoning police on the students who are age of culpability and the school staff that cover up or gas light to protect the bully?

Is it going to need to be for those who are not age of culpability, to have the police called on the staff for endangering the child?

Will the Calgary Board of Education finally realize that things need to change?

This is the prophetic voice, ancient wisdom, modern times.

 


Keep them safe. Keep them rolling.

-(Grandpa) Joe Ragan; Fleet Manager at Southland Transportation until his passing in 1990 (Safety award was named after him).

No more excuses CBE. No more Ableism or attacks. Let’s just get it done right this year as the alternative calendar begins rolling into classes. Let’s get it right as students arrive via bus from across the city to their chosen; or in case of children with disabilities- their designated schools.

Lets be honest and admit that we know extreme weather is here, and already been experienced via hail-thunder-lightning storms; extreme heat; and smoke with quite possibly and easily more to come.

So lets not repeat last year (click here) with the safety-health issues raised by planning neglect.

As my Grandpa would say, keep them safe, keep them rolling.

Here’s to school year 2018-19.

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On June 7, 2018 I wrote to Alberta Education Minister David Eggen, as noted in this almost 2 month old post here.

I finally received a response from the Minister today. It was a lovely and long outlined letter. I must state unlike letters from previous PC Education Ministers it stayed on target for the issue brought to his attention.

The just is this, in Alberta Education’s opinion resources and monies have been provided and it is something to be dealt with via principal, superintendent and trustee (which has already been brought up multiple times) for they are the ones to determine if any grief support response is necessary for students and staff in schools when a child passes.

Yes, the letter affirmed what I already knew to be true. The unfortunate piece is that the Alberta Government had an opportunity to address a systematic discrimination issue and–

CHOSE NOT TO.

Much like my son’s school principal CHOOSES not to use the resources at his disposal to care for his staff and students.

I encourage all parents of children who are (Complex Learning, Special Needs, Super Heroes, Differently Abled, Kids with Disabilities-how they choose to identify) Super Hero– to take up the fight. Do not let them medically-cognitively segregate us anymore. That is how the voice is lost. Do not let the system deem who is of better worth or worse off…

THESE ARE OUR KIDS AND ONE VOICE MUST RING OUT IN THEIR SUPPORT!

 


What follows below is the latest letter I have written to Hon. David Eggen, the Minister of Education in Alberta. It is in regards to the casting aside of compassion towards the disabilities community within the education system. It is about families that mourn, staff that mourn, and the inability of the system to step outside of their own prejudices to respond as they would to any school community in mourning. It is solution focused. I encourage all to write the Hon. Eggen (education.minister@gov.ab.ca ) to call out and begin to work to eliminate the last acceptable passive/active hate within our educational community. My words follow, mine only, but I am sure others have their own stories, solutions (or best practices that may exist that are working for true belonging) to share with a rather responsive education minister, unlike previous years and administrations where I have heard nothing. I will keep you dear reader, up to date as possible on this struggle for belonging that should not need to be, because it is 2018.

Today’s e-mail:

Dear Hon. Eggen,

I write you today as a weary parent. Weary of the battle for my child, and his education community of supports to receive equity in care and compassion by the educational system.  I was encouraged to write you once more due to the systematic Ableism (used to be called Eugenics, that is persons with disabilities and those in their lives had less value in inherent personhood, and we should just accept their demise). This came about, as there is a practice when a child with disabilities passes away within the education system that appropriate grief and mental health supports are not brought in for the staff and the other children. The response given is that “they do not comprehend” for the child, and to the staff “it is part of the job, they die” (probably nicer words used for staff, but having served in various non-profits I can see it being that blunt). The attitude is that death is to be expected, and not taken in as deeply as when a “typical child” passes away.

What is missed is that children no matter what professionals say are empathetic, and feel deeper than we ever will. They are more accepting of belonging, and know long before we do when their friend’s spot in the class will be empty. I cannot count the number of friends my son has lost in his short 6 years (grade 1 to 6) within the public-school system in Calgary, but I know the depth of his sorrow, he has soaked through many shirts of mine with his tears, and beaten on my chest in his anger.

The standard practice we have long fought against is the form letter. We worked with the local school to at least personalize the letter to share whom the child was in community, and supposed to receive a phone call if they are in the classroom from the principal (though it can appear favouritism by family on whom is contacted is played). But it leaves the families receiving notification, and then with very little extra-funding helping their child wrestle through loss and complexity, knowing  the staff are wrestling through their own grief with little administrative support, plus wrestling through our own fear and loss within the community of medically complex children.

I write with a four-fold practice for Alberta Education to remedy ableism that has been accepted down the line:

1)      Training and equipping of administration, trustees and school staff outside of those providing services (and those who provide) to ensure the erasure of passive ableism, and generationally held eugenic beliefs towards the community. We have practice for this with TRC and GSA’s. Time to break the last hate group down and expose it.

2)      The families of the student who passes needs to be provided (and have readily available within schools, like medical clinics) resources for the loss. I do not care what anyone says, it is not normal for a child to pre-decease their parent.

3)      When a child passes, staff need to be cared for. This is Principals, Maintenance, Administration, Teaching, Aides and volunteers within the school. It is not acceptable to say death distance is professionalism, when you build a community of belonging- the loss is felt and help needs to be brought in within best practice principles of debrief within the first 24 hrs, 72 hrs, and follow up protocols for staff that continue to struggle.

4)      Information for grief support to the families of friends needs to be distributed with notification, and I would say the school needs to host a form of celebration for the community member, so the children know that their friend belonged in the world and is not some coded statistic. Also along with this celebration, the same debrief needs to be used to provide grief support for the children, no matter how complex their communication or medical conditions are. They are aware of loss.

Why is this important? We are a scrapper family when it comes to rights, I am on multiple records for many battles to ensure full dignity and human rights for all citizens. To have to fight within a system to prove my son is cognitive enough so he can “earn” a spot to be on a wait-list for grief support if his behaviours around grieving become unmanageable is inhumane. It says to the family, the community, and most importantly to my son: YOU ARE NOT HUMAN ENOUGH for us to care about.

That is quite frankly wrong, and disregards so much of our human, charter and constitutional rights. Many good changes are happening to put students and frontline staff first within our education system of Alberta finally. I implore you to remember all children and staff/volunteers deserve the same care when a classmate/student passes, regardless of what society and professionals deem. All staff in the system also deserve the same level of care. Public Education is community, and as community we learn, grow and celebrate together, we also mourn together. Let us remember that.

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Ty Ragan

To close, my Facebook post from late June 6, 2018 when I was informed by an Ableist I had no right to anger at another white envelope:

Parents imagine at least once a month being informed that your child has had a friend pass away in their class. Then imagine there being no grief supports sent in for the kids or staff for coping, and the only communications is a letter home… when you ask why I am angry about people not seeing my boy as fully person–this is his reality. He cries on me. Screams why God takes his friends. Talks about how his buddy’s mummas, daddy,s and sibs can keep going…the emptiness. Our children belong, the world says they don’t because the world doesn’t want to have to explain how to heal from a once full chair, now being empty. The world, doesn’t know what to do with a child who asks where’s my buddy? Why do all my friends die on me. Instead they tell me that I have to prove my son comprehends life and death, and then they will think of aid. Is this the world we want? Where compassion and healing is an earned right? So yes I am angry. And yes we need to discuss Ableism (what used to be called Eugenics) openly, and call it out. To my religious friends, if you are not then you have failed. To my other friends, I am tired of a world that says earn your spot. I am tired of a world that says a child’s tears are okay because they don’t understand. I am tired of a world that tells those that walk with them, to accept it as part of the job. NO! We grieve, as we live, in community. I am weary, but I will be damned if I will accept this world as it is. Our children deserve better

 


Humboldt- A small trucking company (1 driver, and 1 owner) had one of their 2 trucks accidentally go through a hockey bus on a snow-covered Saskatchewan high way killing many. A nation is in mourning, as in a country the land mass of Canada regardless of your extra-curricular growing up, you have been the child on the bus, and your parents have been the parent awaiting the arrival. Yet the on-set of social media which can do good, and allow connectedness can even twist this to their own gain. Freelance writers with dumb tweets, special interest group memes trying to get their issues back in national focus, alternative media fundraising, and those Nazi fringes spinning conspiracy theories because of the ethnicity of the company owner.  Then there is the backlash SJW’s (the extremists within the political spectrum) threatening violence from fisticuffs to murder to rape against those that were by any moral or ethical compass being uncivilized.

Now, seriously folks, why are we making the dumbass personal gainers the superstars? Why are you sharing their info to “fame-shame”? Therefore, social media has complaint processes, let it die in the dust bin, report, and move on the focus to where it should be. Let the light shine and confuse/destroy the darkness, not let the darkness envelope.

Show some humanity, and keep the focus on those involved and the ripples it has created of grief and mourning as we process through.

Syria- Violence should always be a last resort. This weekend we were shown what making a decision between two bad choices can look like. Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada and Vice President Pence stated it best (my summation) no one wants to see bombing, but something has to be done in this situation. President Trump of the USA was shamed, lets be honest into leading the air strike France and Britain were already planning, and Canada was supporting.

Why? Assad’s chemicalized weapon gassing of his own civilians (Sarin the type used).  For those who feel it should’ve been a UN mission, this would not historically have been possible, because you would not have gotten Russian onside, which is a historic supporter of Syria. The first Cold War created a slew of issues around the world, with Syria being the latest to have a light shone on it.

Yet, when left with the atrocity, the world needed to respond to show evil that it will not go unpunished. Sadly, evil also hides its factories of death (much like the rest of the world) amongst civilians. These people are not collateral damage, they are humans, that need aid. It is a crisis that once again shows the entrenchment of the extremes. From those cheering Trump and his, Mission accomplished tweet, egging on more violence; to the other extreme trying to make comparisons that Syria should bomb the western world for tear gas/pepper spray of protesters, dirty drinking water and/or mandating vaccines.

What would be helpful, is what Pope Francis always states, first you pray (Contemplate) then you act. Acknowledge the horror, acknowledge the hard choice made…then get the money needed to the on the ground aid organizations to aid the innocents trapped in the middle of it whether it be MSF, Red Cross, Red Cresecent or another…do the research and donate if you are able. If not able to get aid there, do something to make your community better, more welcoming of those displaced. Writer your government officials pointing out that we need to help those who are in need and displaced, create spaces of education, understanding, and well, be neighbourly. Actually, act humanely, and if you claim a religious belief and your response is on either of the extremes, I challenge you to truly go into your master teacher/gurus/prophets/saviours teachings and see what they would do.

Calgary Board of Education– During the summer bussing crisis I was on the news with my fairly blunt statement that the CBE (Board and Administration) do not see Complex Learning needs (nee special needs; kids with disabilities) as full persons with the way they are always scape goated; short changed and treated. The waffling on mandatory vaccinations shows this for those with compromised immune systems. The trickling out of audit results showing misappropriation of funds that was blamed on sky rocketing CLN enrollment they were not expecting (despite decades of data showing this trend to hit) to now CLN transitions, having schools post newsletters to websites without the announcement e-mail as usual, as transition planning is up in the air. The CBE is stating a downturn in enrollment within the community, yet just in October was crying crisis… Transition is hard for CLN families, you are trusting an institution completely with your child, who may or may not have the complete ability to communicate in a way that other children can; change can be hard so as you prepare for a transition year (ala grade 6, grade 9) to go into something new, to have it dashed it creates turmoil in a community that thrives in structure.  CBE, I am tired of the lies and coverups…I am tired of my kid and his friends being your emotional puppets…get it together and show you give a damn.

UCP/WRP– Bill 9, the buffer bill was debated in the Alberta Legislature this week. It is for safe zones around abortion clinics to stop the harassment, threats, abuse and assaults on patients and staff from the “Anti-Abortionists” (nothing pro-life about them). The UCP, her majesty’s Loyal Opposition provincially, walked out, would not go on the record one way or the other. Even though Leader Kenney stated votes like this would be left to his MLA’s conscience. Follow up was Kenney posting a video mansplaining what women need in Alberta (what a train wreck).  I am not a fan of the PC/WRP/UCP. I have served and seen the devastation Kleinonomics caused in Alberta infrastructure and those in need, and creating a bursting poverty service industry. I saw parallels in the UCP Movement, with the CPC movement federally, and feel for Red Tories provincially shoved out (I was one of you federally working on policy shoved out). But it does not surprise me. I remember a few provincial elections ago in my riding (honestly I cannot remember which candidate I was supporting NDP/Liberal/Communist), but we came home and the WRP Candidate’s campaign had been by, seeing our sign, they vandalized our yard leaving their literature nailed to trees and house. Phoning the WRP office the response was “what do you want us to do about it, free speech”.  My only hope is in 2020, Albertans vote for the moderation and discussion of ideas, not ideological entrenchment and screaming matches. Check the rage, and get back to the constitutional responsibility of good governance, the opposition is there to propose improvements or alternatives, not simply oppose.

Reproductive Rights– The attestation box has got the religious right in Canada in a bit of a tizzy. It essentially covers that you won’t contravene the Constitution or Charter or reproductive rights. Some of my alma matters have lost out on summer students because they won’t check the box. And as someone who has been a pastor, spiritual leader, and once (and still struggles to be in) the tribe of Christianities. I am tired of it.

  1. If you are going to say it is only about abortion—well then do your work to create a world where every baby conceived is wanted. Do your work to silence those that are the cause of the buffer zone bill.
  2. It is about more than that though. It is about the autonomy and control of one’s own body. As I have written before it is about control over one’s own body and decision whether to breed. It is about deciding if you want to be fixed or not, regardless of your specialists’ religiosity. More than that, it is also an acknowledgement of the Christianities detrimental and harmful behaviour of perpetuating domestic violence and control; of leading the charge of sterilization of whom they viewed as inferior during the eugenics time (which in Alberta was up into the 1980’s) and included persons with disabilities. Before we meme a black and white pity party martyrdom, let us actually sit and listen, and understand what we have done to do harm.

 

Olympic Bid- With the information the City Council has made available I am firmly against an Olympic bid. I am not in favour of a plebiscite on the issue, what I would like is the city non-partisanly providing the information for Calgarians to then make a decision via contacting their elected official, or online polling much like we do with census. The key is the information. I have a hunch, that the city is yearning for a return to the volunteerism magic of 1988. It was great, I was a kid, the energy was amazing. We were a city coming out of recession, reclaiming glory, and having a good time showing the world our stuff.

I would love to say round 2 would be just as great, yet do we have the substantial volunteer base? Business sponsorship? Many things to be asked, that no one (at least being reported in a transparent way) is willing to get out there.  But much like populist politics to the south migrating north, what we have is a shouting match of buffoonery.  Please just provide info and allow for citizens input or no matter what happens it will become a cluster because the other entrenchment will seek to ensure failure.

IOOFLet’s end with some, did you know trivia. Travelling in Vulcan, Alberta (yes my Trekkie is showing and I am proud). First, having supper with a buddy one night we were talking about the shrinking service organization/fraternal organization/mainline church membership and how shared space may be a solution. Low and behold the wife chuckles as she sees the Lions and Masons sharing a hall, then we loop a corner by Quark’s and see IOOF. The curiousity kicks in. What is that?

A google search at home: Independent Order of Odd Fellows (and Rebekahs) one of them fraternal orders, historically out of 19th century England. A response to the Christianities Empire of only doing good works for praise and paradise. The response was simply to be apart of an organization to do good without praise. Hence they were termed by mainstream society as Odd Fellows. To which my wife laughed and said, “always said you were an odd fellow.”

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$9.1 million a year allocated to our kids has been re-directed to pay for the Calgary Board of Education Palace says government audit, and reported in the Calgary Metro (here) since 2006.  Now math was never my strong suit, but that is looking like a minimum of $108 million redirected away from our kids. This from a board that during the 2017 election scape goated special needs students as the cause for the busing cost crisis (and this was the second time they have done that, they did it a few years ago as well)-and yes Hrdlicka, the incumbent for the wards with a special needs school aided in spreading this fallacy during her campaign (the second of two incumbents returned to the board).

To add to that, it wasn’t even done clearly in their books. As the constant refrain of “we need more money” rang from the CBE, they kept listing the $9.1 million but listing it under student funds (instructional).

One of two incumbents returned to the board, Board Chair Hrudman states this in the article:

Hurdman said the CBE has always been transparent about the total cost of the headquarters in its audited financial statements, but the board is prepared to place more of that expense under the line item for administration if that’s what the province directs.

“At the end of the day, what bucket it’s allocated under doesn’t make a difference to students because we can’t use that money for learning,” she said.

 

It does matter Chair Hrudman, for you are stealing from money directed to our students. Money taken to prop up and enter into a very bad lease deal, everybody since it was first brought up told the board not to enter into. The flippancy used that it does not matter which category it falls under is the fallacy that those comfortable with entitlement of power, and not good governance for those they serve use. This is what brought down Prentice’s PC’s provincially (Don Braid wrote an excellent book of this).

If the money is directed to one stream, and is being redirected, there needs to be a memo, a line correction, and full transparency to those that the money is to serve. Were parents notified before going to the polls that $9.1 million for the past 12 years had been redirected out of instructional costs before casting our ballots?

No. The government of Alberta and Alberta Education held off on releasing the audit until after voting. I am glad to hear that the new board is working well with Alberta Education, as Minister Eggen stated. Yet what is the plan to reduce ADMINISTRATION costs, and get that money back into the classrooms, for the students, regardless of labels, so Calgary Public School students have the best system to serve them. Hrudman’s flippancy shows that she does not comprehend the impact this mismanagement has had on students. This is a flippancy that should be rooted out of any service provider: public, non-profit, or for profit receiving government funds and be stripped of funding. Hrudman at this point needs to show good leadership and strong integrity. That starts as a   board chair  laying out a plan to reign in the bureaucratic bloat, and actually provide good service for students. If she is not equipped to do that, and will continue to hide behind answers like provided in the article, then it is time for her to resign and allow a by-election to find someone who will serve the students.

This is one parents opinion. A parent who is tired of administrators that blame parents, take money from our children for their benefit… the new board stated a new vision of promise. It has been 6 months, time to start seeing solutions.


The following is an e-mail that was sent out to parents of students in the Calgary Board of Education. It is there response to Bill 1- A Reduction in School Fees. Please note my pithy, yet thought out response will follow in bold italics. Also note that it is an organization using tried and true status quo methods of deflection in Alberta—when in doubt blame another level of governance for you inability to actually serve those you are charged to serve. As many have noted government is neither business nor non (not) for profit but a hybrid with a dash of exceptional. For far too long in Alberta we have settled for mediocre, and as the School Board Trustee elections approach in October 2017 I implore all Calgarians to vote for anyone but the incumbents for the future of our kids.

Now without further ado, their status quo deflection:

Update on Fees and Transportation for 2017-18

 

Dear Parents/Guardians

On Thursday March 2, the Provincial Government introduced Bill 1 – An Act to Reduce School Fees. This legislation will impact transportation service levels and fees for CBE families beginning this fall.

As directed by Alberta Education, on March 3, 2017 the CBE forwarded a letter from the Minister outlining some details about changes to transportation. At that time he wrote:

“Bill 1, if passed, will also remove bus fees for eligible students traveling to their designated school. That means that if your child attends his or her designated school and that school is more than 2.4 kilometres away from your home, you will not be charged transportation fees. In some circumstances – for example, if parents choose to enrol their child in a school other than their designated school – fees may still be incurred.”

We still have many questions about this legislation. We are working with the government to seek clarification and work through the details.

Until we better understand the impacts on fees and service levels for our families, transportation pre-registration for the 2017-18 school year cannot begin. We had planned to begin in late April. However, with the introduction of Bill 1 this process will be delayed. Early registration helps us plan our routes more efficiently resulting in fewer changes in the fall. It also allows us to share more accurate route information with our families sooner.

We know this timing may be challenging for our families. During our engagement last year families clearly stated they wanted information on transportation – including service levels, stop locations and timing – as early as possible to begin planning for the next school year. We will do our best to provide information on routes as quickly as possible.

We are also seeking clarification on instructional supplies or materials (ISM) fees. We need to understand if this includes bulk purchase of schools supplies for students in grades K-6.

We will continue to update you once we have more specific details about Bill 1 and what it will mean for CBE families.

 

My Response from my FB status April 7, 2017:

So CBE multi-million dollar organization is told to start doing their work within the grounds of the constitution, and they e-mail parents pleading poverty essentially, and that services may be cut to the kids—- hmmm… or do what responsible service providers do and look where cuts can actually happen– that is between budget disbursement and kids, look at the bureaucracy, the pay of CBE trustees, and quit threatening the educational mechanism on the front lines. Do not tell us you cannot start taking registration for busing, plan routes, or are unclear on being able to purchase supplies for our kids. Oh and did you remember this year to collect all tax money from the city? Bill 1 is not the enemy, Bill 1-an act to reduce school fees– is actually making life affordable for families, now do what you were elected to do and provide quality education, safe transportation for our kids.

P.S. The Bus Fee controversy is the CBE finally being called out on the smoke & mirrors they did a few years back to punish Special Needs kids and families. We never have a say in where our kids go to school, the CBE designates based on support structures (which makes sense). For this we paid a reduced rate. Parents of typically developing kids got uppity, but instead of working towards what the government has now imposed, short-sighted “fairness” un-advocates accepted raising bus rates for special needs kids, to the typically developing kids rates.

Now if you send your child to an non-designated school that is your choice, and yes you should pay for buses. But if the school, regardless of child, is designated and requires to be bused, I agree with the Ministry of Education, there should be no charge.

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This is an open letter to the Minister of Education David Eggen, and to the Calgary Board of Education from a father of a special needs child.

This is not a letter focused on the unconstitutionality of school fees; or the ridiculousness and injustness of paying busing fees when a coding system makes my son a number, and I have no choice where to send him because his local school cannot support him, although those are pieces of a system not seeing a full child.

This is from a father grieving with his young son over the loss of a best bud. Think of when you were in elementary school and your partner in shenanigans and adventures? Now think back to what would happen if they died?

What happens in the CBE special needs world?

A form letter home to parents and then nothing. You as a parent are left to tell your child that their friend will no longer be in school, or coming over.

What I know in the typically developing stream of public schools a death of a classmate, a school shooting would result in deployment of grief counsellors to support staff and students in the process moving forward.

But, the special needs world it is crickets we are met with. Silence, not even personal phone calls to the actual classmates families (c’mon you are looking at classes of smaller than 14); and then staff who are suffering in an abnormality of a child not out living their parents, and expected to still do their jobs same day and moving forward.

Speak of trauma? When the response is: well death is a normal part of this community. Pardon my language but Bollocks. This is about kids, pure and simple, that are there one day, and gone the next never to come back, and adults and students left to process or not process.

So this is one father’s plea. Please quit reducing my child to not a full person, he hurts, he cries, he can use support. When any child (regardless of coding) passes away in the school system, please please please, bring the resources around that community to heal and move forward. So staff, students, and in case of financial stresses, parents–can access on site support to help them grieve and heal healthily.

Because silence just perpetuates silence and silence is pain, and yes silence is neglect, and silence can be abuse.

We are better than this.

Thank you.

Sincerely

One Father who has shed far to many tears with his son for such a short life time.


Dear Premier Notley:

You did the impossible, toppled a dynasty that had begun rotting from the centre out, the top down, the bottom up and the outside in. 44 years and done. Yet in the time your new Government has been in power it has been the same cycle of petty partisan politics, and not the new day we hoped for casting our votes for change.

This is an open letter to your government to refocus on Albertans in such a way that partisanship no longer matters. Business should not longer be conducted as the Tory-tatorship did it.  It needs to be open, party branding becoming irrelevant, and getting the best MLA’s regardless of party affiliation for the job.

It is not just about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, oil economies have cycles of ups and downs, but during downs stimulus and change need to be the focus.

What does this mean? This is simply one Albertans’ perspective:

  1. Time to let the Skeletons out of the Closets, a full audit of government by an outside body. Time to clean house of cronyism, backroom deals, forced through legislation, hidden taxes (the Government calls them user fees), and bringing all laws in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Constitution Act 1982, and the Health Act. Yes in a far sweeping inquiry some Dippers may go down as well, but if they are not focused on the full good of Alberta then so they should.
  2. Term Limits: Hard and fast for all elected officials…that’s right MLA’s limited to 3 elected terms in their life times; and for the Civic Elections your government oversees, 2 term limits only. Time to abolish the idea of politician as a career and get it back to true public service. Oh and shrink the size of the Legislature seriously we are at least 20 MLA’s to large (MLA Greg Clarke would be great to spear head these changes)
  3. MLA Pension/Severance Packages—seriously???? Simply put, follow your party’s conscience with Raj Pannu’s votes on these issues: NO!!!! Abolish retroactively.
  4. Health care: this should be a no brainer for a NDP government with the proud history of Tommy Douglas–a true one pay system is the cheapest most efficient–time to get Alberta back on track with public health care, and stretch it to include dental and optical.  MLA David Swann would be great to take on this portfolio.
  5. Charging for parking at hospitals—this is a ridiculous fee for service that keeps low income Calgarians away from accessing care, and families financially challenged for accessing the Children’s Hospital.
  6. AB Works/AISH/Human Services—the greatest inefficiencies as it is a system designed to keep people out, not work with the person at the community level to ensure proper care for Albertans….and seriously who decided that $323/month was an appropriate rental allowance for a person on social assistance?
  7. Pay Day Loans–seriously, we still allow legalized loan sharking—a 6% rate drop is not even a start of a solution-let a Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt  take on this cancer.
  8. School boards—Okay, huge bureaucracy, huge expenses on elections, and elected boards which are minimally duplicated twice in the public arena by Public and Catholic boards, then multiple fundings for private schools, etc…  Hmmm…what a quagmire? Perhaps it is time to realize that school principles can handle budgets, every child is appropriately coded, and each building has a need of a care taking staff for up keep with centralized trades people for bigger issues than that…yet what we have is schools falling apart, private schools admitting they get monies for special needs kids but direct the money away from the child to the general pool (YES HERITAGE Christian Academy Calgary I am looking at you and your admission 4 years ago at a Renfrew School Parents Recruitment Night, at least unlike the other Special Needs Private School you had enough common sense not to refer to our kids with the “R” word)…and so on… so what does all the excess bureaucracy give us? A craptacular education system, that needs to be reduced to simplicity…a few accountants in the Education Minister’s office doing money transfers to the schools to manage their finances. Abolishing all boards and folding into one local public school, oh and the tax money paid through taxes? Calgary Board of Education never collects it all—bad money management, that can be pooled. What does a localized strong public school give to a community? A central gathering point of celebration, learning and growth. As communities cycle through ages, and school attendance numbers drop do not sell off the capital, reinvigorate it with ideas for changing demographics, using different spaces for different community programs i.e. seniors clubs, social clubs, etc.
  9. Busing, lunch room fees and school fees…. seriously! Constitution Act 1982–Free Public Education—have you read it recently? And as a family with a special needs child, we have no choice in where our son goes to school, so then we get dinged for busing when I can’t take him to his local school.
  10. Utility companies—California failed with deregulation–then Klein deregulated—it is time to end this horrible experiment that punishes families financially.

Alberta is a great province to live in. But the cost of living is going through the roof, look at the high level of access of community meals, food banks, those opting out of the illegal school fees, making tough choices on paying the utility bills, internet (yes it is no longer optional in an education world that drives more to have everything online) or rent.

This is an open letter for there was hope when the Government changed…but that hope needs to be reignited…are you a Premier that will move beyond ideology to solutions that will help Albertans? Solutions that will correct decades of errors and punishments on the working classes?

Remember, the Alberta Government is not the NDP Party, it is made up of 84 MLA’s from across 5 parties currently, and it is a mixture of this wisdom that Albertans want guiding our province forward. Are you willing to actually show that Government can work for the people?

Sincerely,
Ty Ragan

A Parent, a Taxpayer, someone wondering where more money is to miraculously appear from.