Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hey EPSB I have an idea!

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 Process
 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 [School B]."

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 community
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 brainer.

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 Trustee, Leslie 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.

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