Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Notley’


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

 

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I am not even going to pretend what I write is without bias. I know this. I was raised in Canada in a working-class family that was taught to give a damn about their neighbour. Pretty much the lens I bring to life, as a minister I read my gospel through the lens of the Charter, why? I was one of those pesky Social Gospellers dreaming a better world every minute of every day. I also hold an unwavering belief that people are mostly inherently good, and despite evidence to the contrary, will make the best decision they can possibly make in a given circumstance. It is the one that does not learn as they grow that stagnates.

Due to my wonky brain, it has been a while since I have been able to provide comment to some political happenings, with clarity comes a moment to provide some clarity so here goes:

  • Women’s March: Sad it still needs to happen, but looking at our world we know why it needs to happen until we have truly moved beyond this label to being true equals on our planet. Ideologue extremists on both sides remember that you have the right to express these views because your grandmas and further back took up the fight for equality, so let us always keep the eye on moving forward as one family, humanity, not on bickering, tearing down and regressing.
  • Jason Nixon, MLA and the Sexual Harassment bill (Google it, or even just check #ABLEG feed on twitter). I am not going to discourse on the ethics of whether a sexual harassment claimant should be fired, it is the 21st century and that discussion should be null (for those who believe it is not the answer is no they should not be fired). But where the ball was really dropped was in governance as the case could have created a bridge for discussion and better laws for all. This happened because there were loopholes, and what I have read pressure from a bigger corporation on a small business owner. The bill put forward was to close loopholes for the abused, BUT and this is where ideological pissing matches hurt all…there was an opportunity for the Official Opposition Party Leader to come prepared speaking from his own experience where wrong was done and wanting to ensure another company owner was not placed in this position by a larger corporation and in inter-provincial gray areas. These are the amendments proposed to aid all Albertans for a better, safer future. That did not happen (if it did and I will gladly publish them).
  • Summer Student Job form and Reproductive Rights clause. Ah more virtue signalling from extremists (Virtue Signalling a new term I learned from friends in the religious right attempting to show your piety). They want you to believe it is about being pro-abortion. Read the form, all government RFP’s are online and able to read the clauses. The short 3-4 sentences is a check box stating you will adhere to charter rights, gender rights, sexuality rights and reproductive rights. This was done for many things, one that has come to light is that extremists groups have been using government funds (anyone of my generation or older probably remember the W-5 expose when the Canadian government funded the Neo-Nazi movement on our shores—so do not want a redoux of that)…but more it shows the quickness to literalness:
    1. Laws and freedoms are written in such a way for interpretation, and many things have started by test cases being floated, norms being accepted (e.g. equal marriage, dying with dignity). But also modernization and fights from the brave like Dr. Morgentaller, made abortion de-criminalized and funded—which leads to it being include in charter rights under gender rights. BUT Reproductive rights are more than just abortion. This speaks to autonomous control of your body. It speaks to things like honouring the choice of birth control (contraceptive, external, rhythm); to have or not have children; and thanks to Alberta’s (and Canada’s) horrendous Eugenics history, not forcefully sterilizing persons with disabilities, as we have and had a history of doing.

It also speaks to a medical practitioner not being able to force their religious views upon you when it comes to treatment. If you as a man or a woman elects for a vasectomy, tubal ligation or hysterectomy regardless of age and whether you have kids or not, you should be able to access. To the other end, regardless of above mentioned if medically it would solve an issue the doctor should not be able to use your age, or whether you still want kids to stop you from choosing the treatment (e.g. hysterectomy) as an option instead of suffering for years with a medical condition.

Do not let literalism sidetrack and important conversation. And if you as a group truly feel reproductive rights is the hill you want to die on, take it to court as a charter challenge, I have a hunch there is a great machination for clear addition of this to the charter through praxis, and eventual Supreme Court Decision.

 

  • Saint Ralph Klein is an Albertan myth. Many are wanting to herald back to those “halcyon days” of yore. Yet I challenge you to speak with your grandparents and baby boomer parents about the state of their health care. The Klein Government in the mid-90’s pulled a fast one on our elders. Treated them with disregard and disrespect, removing excellent medical care, and then played a shell game to replace it (check out Kevin Taft’s Shredding the Public Interest for more on this) will a for pay Blue Cross and cost-share prescriptions. Each Premier and Health Minister since Klein has been complicit in this disregard for our elders (and yes NDP this includes your current government). Think of it, each generation that retires has added to the building up of our communities and social contract, they deserve the best. The message sent is poverty and stress is okay. Both of those we know are huge factors in worsening health. I call on Premier Notley and our Health Minister Hoffman to not only return our coverage for seniors’ health care to Pre-Klein levels, but exceed and renew this social contract with our Elders, for it is the right thing to do.

Finally, the greatest division I see happening within Canada is how easy we like to throw immigrants and refugees under the bus, and/or shelter users. Bullocks. For those that have settled the prairies before the prairie provinces were made, and shortly after remembering your family came here, went through settlement shelters where they were given education, money, health care, and land grants on the prairies for settlement. Our forebears knew we were all in this together and did not allow division based on religion or country of origin break them apart. They settled our provinces, grew prosperous together as Canadians. Let us keep building this dream together.

P.S. always remember political parties and ideological affiliations are perfunctory constructs, constitutionally the legislatures provincially and federally are to be elected bodies of independents working collaboratively to provide Peace, Order and Good Governance for Canadians. We have two elections coming up- 2019 provincially, and 2020 federally prepare to vote for the Alberta and Canada you want for yourself and your neighbour, but also stay engaged in between holding our elected officials to their role in governing in the best interest of the citizen.

How do you want your neighbour to treat you?

How do you treat your neighbour?


It is official, the Wildrose Party and Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta have a betrothal agreement.  I am going to avoid soap boxing about allusions to the McKay-Harper merger fiasco federally that put centrists out of the party structure and those not wanting the merger unable to vote. Even though under 60% of eligible voters for each party (55-PC; 57ish-WRP) voted to give the 95% YES for both parties (and ignoring the WRP PIN issuing issues).

But the membership that did vote, much like any election the citizens that did vote, carry the mandate and form the government–or in this case the new party.

Yes it does alter the landscape politically whether or not one wants to admit it. Much like the fall of the 44 year dynasty (though I stretch that conservative control back further to Ernest Manning’s So-Creds after Aberhart’s transition, but very few historians back my opinion) fell to Rachel Notley’s NDP. We are 2ish years into a 4 year mandate for what could be another dynasty, a transitional pivot, or a course correction for Albertans where we allow our compassion, rationality and pragmatism to enter fully into our voting so we no longer elect dynasties (minority government anyone? Just for a few terms to correct much of the muck that is our money eating bureaucracy?).

But is the UCP the utopia that will accomplish this? One cannot say as they are a vote tally, and a name. What is being seen, much like the federal vote of merger is an exodus by Red Tories seeking a new political home–this federally gave bumps to Greens, Liberals and NDP, but also the formation of smaller parties like the Progressive Canadian Party as these centrists searched for political home.

That is the story of Alberta currently. The Alberta NDP is calling on them to take out a membership, so is the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberal Party (just look at the Centre Together movement that meets in Red Deer).  There is an open call, and a caution. Slow down when seeking the new home, or the first home. Really explore all options on the table. Contemplate, meet your local associations and members (for it is not just policy, but those members in your area you will be a apart of)…and simply see where you fit?  It may surprise you.  Also remember a strong party regardless of size allows members to speak into all aspects, and craft the policies that shape the party.

The landscape is re-shaping in Alberta. It is our time as Albertans to put out there we no longer want decisions made by blind ideology, rather we want solid Peace, Order and Good Governance that has citizens, not PACS-lobbyists or politicians, best interests at heart.

Begin your party search here (for those with websites simply click on the name, otherwise office contact is listed):

Alberta First Party:

Alberta Liberal Party

Alberta New Democratic Party

Alberta Party

Communist Party Alberta

Green Party of Alberta

Pro-Life Alberta Political Association (Formerly Social Credit)

United Conservative Party (UCP-PCAA & UCP-WRP)

Reform Party of Alberta

I also encourage you to keep your ears open for local Independent candidates in your riding that you resonate with to support. For every voice in the legislature matters for crafting the best social contract.

…We’re practical and generous and open and bold. We want responsible and accountable spending. At the same time we’re willing to pay fair value for efficient and effective government services, but we want to know each and every dollar is put to good use…

-Greg Clark, Alberta Party Leader excerpt from Facebook Post July 22, 2017


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.

-30- for now.


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.


So just a quick update on a story published August 1 here. Direct Energy’s second untruth has been exposed, the first being the money will bounce back directly, no that did not happen.
The second? 30 days for a  refund cheque, we are on day 30 and there is no refunds or cheques.

Eden Wallace previous post commentator never responded to verify this Direct Energy escalations department that could not be verified through their website, as well they have not responded to the bank investigation.

Just an update to the readers. At this point it would be full refund + interest for holding the money would rectify the situation and make this party happy for the impact this has had on my family.