It's time to make education a priority
Airdrie-Chestermere Report: A column by MLA Rob Anderson
By: Rob Anderson
| Posted: Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010 06:00 am
I’ve recently started knocking on doors throughout my constituency in order to ensure I understand the concerns of those I represent.
Although the next provincial election is still likely several months away, I think it’s important to stay in touch with what is on people’s minds, and I find chatting on the doorstep is the most effective way of doing so.
Not too surprisingly, the issue most commonly top of mind for people living in Airdrie and Chestermere is education.
Obviously, our constituency’s school infrastructure crisis has been well documented by local and provincial media as well as the efforts of the School Council of Councils and our Rocky View trustees.
However, another question is also common. People are not happy with many of the current education policies of our provincial government and want to know what the Wildrose Alliance would do differently.
If elected at the next provincial election, a Wildrose government would:
• Take provincial politics out of determining where new schools are to be built by placing funding and decision-making authority over the building of new schools into the hands of locally-elected school boards, and away from a provincial government bureaucracy that has consistently demonstrated an inability to adequately address local educational needs.
• Empower both parents and individual public schools (including Catholic and public charter schools) by sending funding directly to the school each student attends. Schools would then be able to determine how to best allocate these resources to the front lines (i.e. more teachers, new equipment, etc).
• Establish multiple pilot projects across the province where open-enrollment and tuition-free public, Catholic and charter schools could opt into a competency-based learning model where individual students would be expected to master each portion of curriculum taught before moving on to subsequent topics, effectively ending the practice of social promotion.
• Work with teachers to alter academic assessment away from multiple-choice Provincial Achievement Testing (PATs) to a framework that discloses each student’s specific level of understanding of each subject as well as their annual rate of academic improvement.
• Protect a parent’s right to choose what school their child attends (public, Catholic, charter, private or homeschooling) and continue to allow a portion of per pupil funding to follow a student to the private or home school arrangement of their parent’s choice.
• Ensure special needs students are properly assessed and resourced as early as possible and end the practice of forcing special needs students to attend the same classrooms as regular students unless it is clearly beneficial to all students involved.
I invite every parent, teacher and trustee to work together with the Wildrose in a renewed effort to innovate and strengthen our children’s education system…the status quo is simply not good enough.