Posted by: kbater | May 19, 2012

Education Minister Johnson’s 3 top priorities

Education Minister the Honourable Jeff Johnson

Education Minister the Honourable Jeff Johnson spoke yesterday at the  Team Leadership Academy CASS Moving and Improving event in Banff.  Minister Johnson spoke about how lucky we are in Alberta with our resource wealth and he said “we will only realize our potential if our children reach their full potential”.  He indicated he wants to tap into the knowledge and experience of CASS (College of Alberta School Superintendents) to be effective in his role as Minister of Education.

He highlighted his three priorities:

  1. Work towards a labour deal with the ATA through the tripartite process
  2. Address capital planning (campaign promise is 50 new schools and 70 modernizations in the next 4 years)
  3. Re-introduce the Education Act with a few revisions

He indicated that long-term he wants to move the yardstick with students success by acting on the Inspiring Education report.  He also mused about the disconnect between the any-time, any-place philosophy and the practice of diploma exams having to be written on a specific date.  He used Athabasca University as an example of how it is possible to deliver on the flexibility that students want and need.

He concluded with the statement that we should be thoughtful in our approach as today’s short-term decisions become tomorrow’s long-term problems.

I was able to ask a question after his speech so I used the ideas that Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves and Ben Levin had been presenting on leading change with the concept of Push-Pull-Nudge.  They suggested that you need to use all three approaches and to be deliberate with them.  So I asked Minister Johnson “What approach do you prefer when working with us, what do you respond to?”  He suggested that it depends on the day – he might want a good discussion that is about pull – moving towards a good idea, or on another day he might want to push an idea and try to get people moving.

Afterwards I had a one-to-one conversation with Minister Johnson and invited him to come again to the Bow Valley to visit our schools in Canadian Rockies Public Schools.  I also suggested he would be interested in how we have put into practice the idea of generative governance that surfaced in the Inspiring Education report. 

I found Minister Johnson very approachable, he listened, and he demostrated an understanding of how key collaboration is in doing the important work of education.


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