Education of children is an important foundation of our society. Residential property taxes collected by the municipal governments are pooled provincially and disbursed to the schools on a per-capita basis. It is in the interest of everyone who pays property taxes to have their say in the public schools, to ensure that this money is well-spent. This may mean attending the monthy board meetings, where every citizen may provide feedback to the elected trustees, who are relied upon to discuss the budget and other items so that the schools run smoothly. Doing what's best for kids means making sure that every child has access to a quality education, so that as adults, their skills at reading, writing, and arithmetic will enable them to contribute effectively for the betterment and preservation of society.
What is your stance on the new curriculum?
There is always room for improvement to a curriculum, especially insofar as it tends to stray into political indoctrination rather than teaching students to think logically and independently. The focus should be on inspiring the students to love learning, which can only happen when they have achieved competence in the core areas of knowledge such as the "three R's" of Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic.
If there is a specific concern about the new curriculum that is shared by parents, tax-payers, or citizens, a more in-depth answer will be possible.
Should school boards look to foreign publications when crafting policy?
When setting policy, Alberta school boards should be guided by the relevant national and provincial legislation and not appeal to foreign documents. This will ensure that the parliamentary processes that are a hallmark of free and democratic Canadian society are respected.
Can all decisions be made at the local school board level?
Not all decisions are equal. Some standardization in the fundamental curriculum and teaching methods across Canada is necessary. Because some standardization is necessary in the schools, the demands of everyone cannot be met. However, all reasonable demands must be considered and implemented for the benefit of the majority. One important duty of the board is to facilitate communication between the parents and taxpayers, the teachers and support staff, and the office of the minister of Education, so that the needs of everyone continue to be heard and met.
Should funding be provided on the basis of a school's affiliation?
The bulk of funding must be allocated to the core areas that will produce graduates who are well-trained to handle the demands of being an adult in Canadian society: fiscal and budgeting skills, basic mechanical or physical knowledge, mathematics and logic, history, and literacy. The various affiliations, or lack thereof, of a school that is successfully educating students in these core areas are mostly irrelevant.
Should room be left in the curriculum for special interests?
Learning is a continuous lifelong process that never stops. After proficiency in the core areas is established early-on, there are many different educational paths that an individual may take. There must be room left for electives so that students may attain a level of knowledge and skills specialization to suit their innate abilities or chosen profession.
Do parents need to be informed of any third-party facilitators who have access to their children?
Any time a student is under the care of a school board, the school board must perform due diligence to keep the parent informed of what is happening and who is involved.
Brief biographical statement
I strive to ensure that all my opinions are carefully reasoned and logical. My area of expertise is in the electrical trade. I'd like to see the public schools graduating more people like me, who are independent, functioning, contributing members of society who deeply care about the welfare of their own selves, and that of others.
Statement of beliefs
Learning is a lifelong process. Every child can be inspired to learn by being equipped with the basic skills and knowledge that will benefit and help him or her to make wise decisions in life as an adult. As a school board trustee, there will be some boring hours discussing the budget and adhering to the formalities of meeting procedure, but it will all be worth it to see that the needs of the students, parents, taxpayers, and school staff are met by the wise decisions that a trustee may make, and to see society as a whole is healthier because one of it's main institutions is respecting its partnership with the others.
Three main priority areas
What are your views on education funding in Alberta and the role of school boards in funding decisions?
Funding for each school is disbursed from the provincial property-tax pool based on the number of students enrolled. The job of the trustees is to further distribute and manage this money so that the school buses and other infrastructure are maintained, and the teacher's contracts are upheld. The budget consists of tax dollars that people worked hard for and trust will not be wasted.
How can learning conditions in schools be improved?
The goal is always keep the class sizes down, and to make sure that the basic needs of the students are met. Children cannot learn properly on an empty stomach or when they do not feel safe and appreciated as individuals who are part of a group. It's really not much more complicated than making sure a plant is properly watered and has enough soil and light to grow properly, able to withstand the wind and rain. If a parent or guardian is in some way falling short in their responsibilities to the student, this should not be allowed to detract from the educational quality of the classroom as a whole. People naturally enjoy learning, and with a good foundation of quality training can do great things.
What are your views on recently released draft curriculum?
On the surface the draft looks fine, I am not aware of a specific problem with it. Of course there is always room for improvement, and I suspect there will be specific concerns with the K-6 social studies area of learning. However, the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic need not be meddled with. It's also nice to see a financial entrepreneurial and digital literacy component. There is still time for the concerns of parents and tax-payers to be addressed before the draft is finalized by the office of the Minister of Education for the 2022 school year. I am looking forward to and excited to review the 7-12 draft.
How can trustees and school boards best support teachers?
Make sure they are adequately compensated and have all the supplies they need to teach the curriculum in a way that students can master it, and ensure there is regular two-way communication between parents and teachers.
As a school board trustee, how will you encourage and facilitate the calls to action as outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?
Of the 94 calls to action, only four calls, 62 to 65, concern the school boards. It looks to be mainly a curriculum issue, solution being that a more complete history of Canada should be taught, for example from the perspective of ethnic groups such as Cree, Dene, or Blackfoot. The usage of the capitalized term "Indigenous" in the calls to action is not properly defined, but seems to refer to Canadians on the basis of their ethnicity, which is somewhat racist and divisive, since anyone born in Canada is indigenous Canadian, regardless of ethnicity. Call number 64 is especially problematic as it would require incorporating "Aboriginal religion" into the classroom, which is not advisable unless it is offered as an elective in the later years. Also, any call to action that would short-circuit or in any way supersede the regular communication that the boards facilitate between parents and teachers should be disregarded, as it would just be political indoctrination at that point.