I am the proud owner of a kiddo about to embark on her first foray into the weird and wonderful world of public school. Ah yes, in mere weeks she will be headed to kindergarten. So I have a few ideas for the folks at Edmonton Public, as well as Alberta Ed.
1. The Kindergarten Application
Did you know that we are only allowed
to submit ONE application to any public school of our choice? If our
child does not get in, they are automatically enrolled in their catchment
school. Now this is all good and well as I’m sure the EPSB will claim that all
public schools in Edmonton are equal, but that’s a bit of a tough pill to
swallow when some catchment schools offer alternative programming while others
do not. So basically, if I lose the
lottery, my kid can’t learn a second language.
Lames. How hard would it be to allow parents to apply to a variety
of schools and then require them to make a decision earlier to allow for some
rejigging? Surely there’s some algorithm that could solve this. Bueller? Bueller?
2. The Have's and the Have-nots
I was chatting with a friend whose daughter is also slated to start K in the
fall. She was telling me that she was very impressed by her local school
for a number of reasons, but it was one reason in particular that has me all
worked up. Apparently, the students at this school, let's call it School
A, send fruit over to say School B, to ya know, help the less fortunate.
I believe that everyone's heart is in the right place here, but the delivery,
well let's just say the delivery needs some work. From their website:
"Fruit for a friend is a local
citizenship project for [School A], initiated in 2007. This program
is designed to provide breakfast to children who would not necessarily receive
it at home, and is greatly appreciated by the students, parents and staff of
So the  were from me. Did you catch that? Cause apparently
EPSB has no problem branding their schools as haves vs have-nots. But,
you see I do. It’s the same thinking that got us all to believe that the
whole nation of Ethiopia was starving in the 80s. Peeps are still surprised to find food at
the Ethiopian tent at Heritage Days! These very same
kids are going to meet up in Jr high someday on the basketball court and things
are gonna get ugly. How about some anonymity here people? For the
CHILDREN. FIX THIS.
3. Schools as the centre of the
So my third “idea” is kind of at odds with my first one. I am lamenting the loss of schools as the centre
of a community. Back in the day, there
was no real choice in where you went to school.
You just went to where you could walk to. And all the neighbourhood kids did too. And it was fine. But, ya know, things change. My daughter will not be attending her
neighbourhood school. You see, we would
like her to learn a second language. But
I don’t see why she can’t participate in extra-curricular activities at her
local school? Why can’t she be on the local school’s track team? Or in the band?
Is this a logistical problem? Capacity? Liability?
Again, I feel a simple algorithm could solve this. And as a parent, it would give me an opportunity
to connect with my neighbourhood. No
Now, coincidentally, in my quest to become mayor one day, I recently had
the pleasure of spending an evening with my ward's Edmonton Public School Board
Cleary. Now truth be told, I really had no idea about what a School
Board Trustee actually does but I seized the opportunity (sorry Leslie!) to raise
some of my ideas with someone who may actually be in a position to do something about it.
What a concept!
If you’ve got something to say, I encourage you to
contact your trustee. You’d be surprised
at how open their door is.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
I would like to start off by congratulating you on yet another stellar event. This festival ranks at the top of my list of things to do in Edmonton, and your continued efforts to improve upon it, year after year do not go unnoticed. It was great to see Colombia and Brazil come out with such a bang on the first go! As a person of mixed-heritage, I love this opportunity to celebrate diversity. My family and I are there for all three days gorging on the sights, sounds and foods on display. With over 80 distinct cultures participating it surely must be the largest celebration of multiculturalism in the world. You prove that the Canadian ideal of a peaceful, multicultural society is not only possible, but is a reality. You should be proud of what you have built.
It is precisely because I have such respect for the work that you do, that I find your silence on the recent controversy surrounding the judges for the event, perplexing. What seemed to start out as a simple observation on the part of some attendees, spiraled into a vitriolic attack on those who noticed, those who were asked to judge and those who weighed in on the issue. I suppose we have social media to thank for that. But your silence on the matter served to, in my opinion, exacerbate the problem. You left your “celebrities” high and dry to defend themselves for a decision I can only assume was made by you. Some apologized. Some freaked out. And some made comments that could be seen as demeaning to visible minorities. They should not have been put into the position to comment. But you should.
I feel it fitting that you offer an explanation to the public outlining your selection criteria. I would also like to know if you feel there is any merit to the controversy and if so, how you will handle it moving forward. I feel strongly that Edmontonians from every corner are awaiting your response.