* Candidate profiles are published as submitted by the candidate.
|Website and Social Media Pages||None|
|Background||I grew up in Winnipeg where I received my education, including a BA in Theology and a MA in Sociology. I was briefly employed there as Pastor of a small United Church and as a Lecturer at the University of Manitoba before moving to the University of Alberta for a Ph.D. in Sociology. In 1972 I accepted an 8-month, temporary contract at Red Deer College which nicely fit with my need for a short-term place to be and write my doctoral dissertation. However, well before my contract expired, the College offered me a permanent appointment and asked me to stay and build a complete set of Sociology courses. I agreed, for several reasons. I had come to really appreciate the College and the Central Alberta community and countryside, and importantly, I had met a wonderful young lady in Edmonton and we planned to marry.. Linda and I stayed, and in short order Red Deer became our home. Our children (Emmy, Ken, Rob and Sarah) were born here and are graduates of Red Deer Public Schools. This past August Linda and I celebrated our 44th anniversary. I have served our community in many ways including as a Leader with Beavers and Cubs, teaching Sunday School, offensive line coach for the LTCHS Raiders, and as Treasurer of the Bower Place ECS. I have been Chair of the John Howard Society, chairman of the Red Deer Housing Authority, and a member of the Professional Conduct Committee, Alberta Association of Registered Nurses. I was one of the founders of the RCMP Victims Services Unit, based on my research into the needs of crime victims and witnesses, I have served as a consultant to the Federal Minister of Justice, the Solicitor General, the Correctional Service of Canada and the RCMP. I have conducted social research for AADAC, the City of Red Deer, the Red Deer and District Community Foundation, and the SPCA , At Red Deer College I served as President of the Faculty Association, as Member of the Board of Governors, and as Chair of Academic Council|
|Why are you running for Trustee?||I was first elected to the Red Deer Public School Board in 1995, and since then I have experienced real satisfaction from knowing that I have helped contribute to our public schools. I am seeking re-election with the belief that I can offer experience, ability, dedication, and a demonstrated commitment to public education in Red Deer. I believe that I can continue to make a strong contribution. The Mission Statement of Red Deer Public Schools proclaims that we are “Striving for excellence by inspiring learning and nurturing hope in every student. In this we understand that Astriving for excellence is always a direction, never an accomplishment. Our greatest challenge then is to insure that we remain an improving district. We seek to provide the best quality educational programs to meet the individual needs of each of our more than 10,800 students. We aspire to have the best possible schools with the best programs, the best curriculum, and the best instruction. We need to protect the gains we have made in recent years from Learning Assistance Teachers to Learning Support Teams, from Alternative Programs to early literacy, from Community Liaison Workers to differentiated instruction and assessment for learning. We want to continue to improve our student achievement and insure that every child succeeds, that none are left behind. In broad terms, these are the challenges we face but the specific issues are unknown today. In seeking re-election I thus offer as much an attitude as an agenda. In 22 years as a Trustee, including 6 years as Vice-Chair and another 6 as Board Chair, I have been guided by core values: to preserve and build on the quality and strengths of our schools; to advocate local leadership, control and accountability; to promote effective partnerships of parents, teachers, students, the community and the board; to ensure the best education for our next generation of citizens.|
|What are your priorities for Red Deer Public Schools?||
For the past three years the Board has worked hard on the District educational plan. We have sought input and feed back from parents, students, teachers and staff, school administrators and the general community. With each review of the plan we have worked to understand the strengths and weaknesses in where we were at the moment and to improve on where we are headed. As an individual I participated diligently in this process and I have seen the plan become increasingly effective. We can now see the plan and its three priorities coming to fruition. These are: Literacy and Numeracy – the ability of students toeffectively and confidently work with words and numbers. Equity – ensuring that fair and inclusive education is experienced by all students so that their diverse learning needs and personal situations are not an obstacle to achieving their educational potential Student Success and Completion – School is about the successful journey students experience from early learning through all grades, to high school completion and beyond. As a candidate, my priorities for Red Deer Public Schools reflect the priorities of our educational plan. These priorities are clearly interrelated, but of the three my greatest focus is on Equity, which can be seen as the foundation of the plan as a whole. We have learned that the notion of equal treatment of students who are inherently unequal only serves to reproduce inequality. We are now putting Equity into practice through three overlapping activities.
• Each staff member has the ability to meet the diverse needs of all students through excellence of instruction.
• Students are supported in their academic, behavioural, social and emotional well-being,
• Through the reduction of barriers, each student is able to access the supports and services they need to achieve success. I am seeking re-election in order to continue to work on these priorities. I believe I can continue to make a contribution, and I thank you for your support.
|Questions Week 1 - September 26||
How would you ensure that parents are informed and meaningfully engaged in their child's education?
There is no question but that parents have the right to be fully involved in their children’s education and that Red Deer Public Schools must provide a full range of opportunities for that involvement. The real key to this question however, is that that parents must be informed and engaged, meaningfully! The primary connection between the school and the family is the child’s classroom teacher and a variety of opportunities, both formal (“Meet the Teacher Events” and Parent/Teacher Conferences) and informal (school social or activity events, specially requested or accidental meetings, unscheduled occasions) exist for consultation and discussion. In addition, the district provides a PowerSchool utility on line so that parents can follow their child’s attendance, marks and progress daily as well as other relevant information (see PowerSchool for RDPSD Parents on YouTube). Should parents have particular issues or concerns at any time, initial contact will normally be with their child’s classroom teacher and, if the concern persists, subsequently with the Principal and the Superintendent. The school too may also initiate consultation with respect to emerging concerns. Depending on the issue, this may be undertaken by the teacher, by a school administrator, by one of our Counselors or Community Liaison Workers, or by some other member of the school’s Student Support Team. If additional assistance is required, the district has a variety of program and behaviour specialists on its staff together with links to other relevant community services. We continue to try and expand the range of assistance and opportunities for our students. This year, in conjunction with Alberta Health Services we will begin to offer mental heath services in our schools. Our intention is that every student enjoy the most complete range of educational opportunities together with appropriate and necessary resources and supports. Parents should always be our full partners in this endeavour.
What changes should be made to the curriculum to best meet the needs of students?
Curriculum change is a very difficult question. In a time of increasingly rapid social and technological change, our continuing quest for a fully acceptable, rigorous and .relevant curriculum is complicated by an increasingly diverse community reflected in greater diversity and inclusion in our classrooms. At the same time, our students come to us with wide ranging differences in their needs, interests and abilities which are reflected in the diverse expectations of their parents. At the same time, Red Deer Public Schools has embraced the important value of equity, which recognizes that there are no disposable children as we seek to respond to the unique needs of each and every student. We cannot employ a cookie cutter approach to curriculum where all students are given the same thing. For that past three years, our first priority as a district has been a concern for student Literacy but our children learn reading and writing in a variety of different ways. So while at one level we might have a common curriculum, in the classroom there is a need for differentiated instruction which responds to the different needs of our students. It is to the credit of our staff that we have been successful in improving literacy across the district. This year related concerns have led the Board to add Numeracy to that important first priority, thereby increasing the demands on those who deliver curriculum to our students. There is no “silver bullet” in curriculum change, no simple answer to an exceedingly complex question. The Alberta Department of Education has embarked this Fall on a 6-year plan to redesign the entire K to 12 curriculum (see Alberta Education online ) What is required is a process that will realistically incorporate the input of our stakeholders, our teachers, our parents and local community, a process that provides for reasonable local autonomy and the flexibility to adapt curriculum to our local needs. We need to be part of the process.
|Question Week 2 - October 3||
How would you ensure that resources are most effectively and efficiently allocated across the District to meet the diverse needs of all learners?
This question speaks directly to our mission: “Striving for excellence by inspiring learning and nurturing hope in every student.” (emphasis added) This requires all district resources be effectively and efficiently allocated to serve the many diverse needs of all learners, an audacious effort for a district with almost 11,000 students.. This undertaking is a process, not an product, and requires on-going consideration. One way to think of this would be as a kind of “never-ending relay race.”
As the Board cycles through different stages, our foundational priority of Equity means that this will be a very complex activity. It begins with an on-going consideration of the current reality of Inclusion and Diversity across the District, particularly the identification of individual, group, and district-wide issues that can be seen as emerging concerns. Early in the year, the informal review is collected through consultations with teachers and staff, school administrators, students, parents, and the general community. Their ideas are carefully recorded and collated as input to the Board at its planning retreat in February, together with ideas brought by Trustees and Senior Administrators. The retreat also reviews the current status of the District’s operations.
This all results in a rough draft of our new 3-year Educational Plan and a set of principles to guide the development of the budget for the next school year. This is a challenging activity as there is usually compelling reason for new and expanded initiatives in the face of funding that has not expanded. In recent years however, careful planning has allowed the establishment of effective new initiatives such as Learning Assistance Teachers, Community Liaison Workers, and Mental Health Workers in schools.
The Education Plan and the Budget receive final approval in June and the Board reviews the status of the budget quarterly
In this and everything we do, we are always seeking the very best for all of our students.
What is your position on policies related to sexual orientation and gender identity?
Key provisions of our District priority of Equity require us to recognize the diverse needs and circumstances of all of our students. No student should ever be excluded, discriminated against, bullied, or be subjected to hatred or contempt by reason of gender or socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, physical or intellectual ability, culture or religion, or other similar reason.
The priority of equity requires that the Board, and by extension the School District as a whole, to go beyond simply responding to discrimination, by providing supports for students likely to be so affected and to reduce or remove any barriers to full, equitable, and unthreatened participation in our schools.
For these reasons, the Board unanimously adopted our policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) after extensive consultation with our many interested parties including staff, students, parents and the community as a whole. In enacting the policy, our intent was stated in the preamble: “The Board will provide an environment for all members of the school community to work and learn, free from fear, discrimination, and harassment, while also promoting pro-active strategies and establishing guidelines to ensure that sexual and gender minority students, employees and families are welcomed and included in all aspects of education and school life, and are treated with respect and dignity.”
Red Deer Public Schools SOGI policy represents our effort to ensure that LGBTQ members of school communities and their families are welcomed, accepted and included in all aspects of education and school life.
I strongly supported, and participated in, the creation of this policy, and I continue to staunchly support it today. To my thinking, this is essentially a matter of equity and human rights; there should be no other alternative.
|Question Week 3 - October 10||
Are you in favour of one publicly funded education system?
I believe Alberta would benefit greatly from one publicly funded education system.
As befits the multicultural society that Alberta has become, our schools need to be inclusive, not exclusive. Our children’s education should proceed in a system that is a model of the civil democratic society we aspire to. In such a single, publicly funded educational system, all of our children will learn and live the values of democracy together, in a context of inclusion and diversity, thereby shaping the future of our communities. In recent years Newfoundland and Quebec eliminated faith-based school systems and the evidence is that it has been a very successful move. Alberta has seen the Protestant schools from almost 150 years ago become today’s Public Schools. These include children representing diverse faith groups as well as the almost one-third of Albertans who claim no formal religious connection, and provide a wide range of choice through alternative programming, including religious schools.
Today only one faith-based tradition remains. Some suggest that Separate schools allow for choice, but this option is denied all other faith groups in Alberta. And “choice” in schools has become competition,
Competition came into full bloom with the restructuring of education in 1994, when funding was no longer based on Public or Separate tax rolls, but on the number of students in the desks. Separate School jurisdictions expanded dramatically to almost all areas of the province, particularly into sparsely populated rural areas where the costs involved in overlapping educational offerings are significant, and the impact on local communities is greatest.
In 2017 Alberta, I see separate schools as an expensive anachronism. But this is not an issue to be resolved by the Red Deer Public School Board. As a Trustee I place my priority with matters that we can deal with directly and which will provide a real benefit for students in Red Deer Public Schools.