Alberta Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk has been meeting with the Board Chair and Superintendents from all the school districts and yesterday he met with 11 boards in Calgary. He asked us to share the highlights and challenges from our divisions and then he shared his ideas about our comments and his current thinking about what is important and what needs to be addressed.
Here are my notes from what Minister Lukaszuk said:
- Now that he has met with all boards in this group format he wants to meet with individual boards to see and understand the local perspective
- Bill 18 will be on the agenda for the spring session and he expects it will pass and that current consultations will bring some revisions forward
- We all need to communicate more and better – He said that if Prime Minister David Cameron of England can say in the House of Commons – “Alberta has the best education system in the english speaking world” – that we need to do a better job of sharing those successes with our communities
- Predictable funding is important and he will work with Premier Redford to work towards this and that education will be buffered as much as is humanily possible from the ups and downs of budgets in a resource-based economy
- The Tri-partite discussion with Gov’t, ATA, and Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) are important and can help create predictable expenses – just as important as predictable funding
- Key criteria for tri-partite discussions is: Is it a good deal for students?
- Transportation and Infrastructure are issues everywhere in the province
- He will come out with a 10-point plan in January which will address the key issues
- Schools with fewer students can offer space for community programming that helps with wrap-around services
- 1st Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) education is a key issue – what we’ve been doing for decades hasn’t worked – we need new ideas
- The Minister has had discussions with Federal Minister of Indian Affairs about creating a more unified approach with Alberta students attending reserve schools and Alberta Education funded schools
- He wants closer ties between post-secondary and secondary education and has discussed this with the Minister of Advanced Education
- PAT’s have a purpose = to test curriculum
- PAT’s have been misused to compare schools, to assess principals and teachers, to assess students
- The Minister will consult with stakeholders about how to re-align our approach to and use of PAT’s
- There is overwhelming support for more kindergarten programs (full day, pre-kindergarten) – so what makes sense?
Minister Lukaszuk is a keen listener, is a succinct speaker who doesn’t mince words and many times made it clear he is interested in action. I liked his candor.
We have invited the Minister to come visit Canadian Rockies Public Schools and met our students, staff, parents and the board. We look forward to showing him what Inspiring Hearts and Minds looks like in action.