EDUCATION MINISTER NEEDS TO DO HOMEWORK AND ANSWER THE BELL – Column, CTV Edmonton — and a poll

It begins with the unsung heroes of this province’s education system. The people who, very quietly, go about their job — which is so much more than a job — to support our province’s youth, its most valuable resource, the best opportunity to succeed.

  • I’s Saturday afternoono when the provincial government’s department of education’s public relations machine hits the send button. 

Newsrooms — radio, television and newspaper — are working with a skeleton staff, and are quite busy with the hourly COVID-19 story, so it seems the perfect time to drop some unfortunate news.

Their unfortunate news comes as a press release.

It’s Saturday afternoon when the provincial government’s department of education’s public relations machine hits the send button.

Newsrooms — radio, television and newspaper — are working with a skeleton staff, and are quite busy with the hourly COVID-19 story, so it seems the perfect time to drop some unfortunate news.

Their unfortunate news comes as a press release.

It’s Saturday after all. We cannot disturb Education Minister Adriana LaGrange from her personal weekend activities, can we, to host a press conference and ask potentially awkward questions, can we?

It is, after all, a sensitive story: slashing funding for educational assistants, substitute teachers, bussing and other services not currently used since Alberta school doors were closed.

I have tried, for hours, to come up with a diplomatic and professional adjective to adequately describe this form of communication.

I failed.

By not having LaGrange available to the media is a public relations blunder beyond logic.

It’s an insult, too, to Alberta taxpayers.

Sending out a release and tweets on such a significant announcement is not only lazy — it’s disrespectful to taxpayers who, please do not ever take for granted, dig in their pockets and shell out for six-figure salaries.

And cabinet ministers can’t have a Saturday press conference during a historic time to, personally, address a major issue like this?

But — more sadly — the minister’s public relations, or lack of, is not the meat and potatoes of this tale.

Hardly.

It begins with the unsung heroes of this province’s education system. The people who, very quietly, go about their job — which is so much more than a job — to support our province’s youth, its most valuable resource, the best opportunity to succeed.

It might be driving a bus.

It might be helping a student with autism in a very intimidating situation find just the thinest slice of hope to fit in, and experience the priceless feeling of being included.

It might be custodial staff, arriving before classes start and staying for hours after the ringing of the last bell, to make sure classrooms, gymnasiums and lunch rooms are clean, and ready for the next day.

Ken Valgardson is a retired teacher with 36 years under his belt and, most notably, an Excellence in Teaching award.

“Teachers need the school to do the distance learning so if we don’t have it clean and maintained it wont be safe to educate our youth in these tough times. That one autistic child that smiles and only communicates with that special person in the classroom has nobody,” Valgardson said Saturday evening.

“Minister LaGrange is going to take this away from students.”

It is most disturbing, really, the provincial government is taking things away from Albertans when we need it the most.

Minister LaGrange: it’s about time you did your homework.

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CTV EDMONTON

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Published by Cam Tait

Background shareclose email Gary McPherson: pioneer for people with disabilities, visionary, executive, family man and everybody’s friend. Gary’s voice was a strong advocate of reason and negotiability. When Gary passed away in 2010, few people carried his vision on. Sadly, we see it today: people with disabilities are being overlooked and not being heard. Gary was a dear friend of mine who opened many doors for me since 1979. This site is now dedicated to Gary’s legacy. I am going to try — in my own voice — to carry on his legacy. But nobody did things like Gary. I miss you every day, my friend .

5 thoughts on “EDUCATION MINISTER NEEDS TO DO HOMEWORK AND ANSWER THE BELL – Column, CTV Edmonton — and a poll

  1. You got this so right, as our Provincial Government has failed. Now is not the time to lay-off workers who offer essential support if given the chance to do their jobs. Thank you for finding the truth without the politics. Looking forward to more of your informed articles. Thank you.

    Like

  2. Mr. Tait,
    thank you for writing the article. You are right, Minister LaGrange does need to do her homework. She has no real understanding of the necessity of the support staff in the public schools. Most are not paid very well for the jobs they do; the government takes away from the low hanging fruit and the vulnerable. There are other ways that support staff could be kept working, perhaps reducing hours in the week or taking a small pay cut for a the period of time that is needed. Rather than cut the funding which had been told would be there until the end of June this has caught everyone off guard. I thought that it is better to have people working rather than applying for EI. That is why there are federal subsidies.
    Again, thanks for writing the article and hopefully giving people the idea that support staff have value also.

    Katy Rubis
    Edmonton

    Like

  3. Hi Cam,
    Thank you for having the guts to step out of the box and call the Education Minister to task. This UCP group seem just as titled as the PC group preceding them. They campaigned on working for the “middle class”, and that only lasted as long as the campaign.

    Hand outs to big business and Oil continue, don’t know if they can continue to cut oil and gas royalties,(they are low to begin with). Each time there is a drop in Oil prices AB. blames Ottawa and then. It will never change proceed to open the wallet for the big donors with the big wallets. It will never change as that is the system and that is why we require more people like yourself to call out those responsible for how much damage they are effecting on the “middle class”.

    Please keep up the pressure and reach out to your colleagues to help all those that are dependent on basic requirements for both Education and Health.

    I have the opportunity to share many laughs with you along with way with many of our mutual friends that have departed, Hank, Wes,, Jack, and Waldo

    Stay well Cam and Please don’t let this injustice go unnoticed

    George Spnach

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