Are you ballot-curious?
Over the next few months, I’m going to be hosting a series of “Trustee Training Workshops”, opportunities for parents and community members anywhere in Alberta who may be interested in putting their name forward as a Trustee—in 2021, in 2025, or a future election year...
Don't panic. In 2010 I only started campaigning in May, and most people don't make up their minds who to vote for until the fall, so you've got time.
You don’t have to live in Edmonton to attend, and you don’t have to necessarily want to run. You might want to run for Public, Catholic, or Francophone Trustee and I encourage you to seek these offices.
We are all “one in a line of many” and the primary role of any organizer is to “replace themselves”— we are only as good as those we train to continue the work. So if you are still reading this, I want to invest in you!
Over the next few months I will be hosting a series of webinars and Q&A:
- Advocating for your school: what can you do right now to better your school?
- Understanding the landscape of education in Canada and Alberta
- Understanding the role of school trustees: Reversing the gradual erosion of the role of school boards, local taxation, bargaining
- Running in municipal elections
- Working with, not for, other orders of government
- Reconciliation and critical race theory in education
- Supporting your local schools in non-election years
- Recommendations to improve public education going forward
- Guest speakers and much more!
My only criteria for these workshops is that you have to agree on a few basic principles:
- that #blacklivesmatter
- support stronger action on the #TRC recommendations
- we need to #SpendMoreNotLess on education, including childcare and post-secondary
- you want to prioritize #PublicFundsForPublic schools
- you don’t want to "out gay kids” and respect their privacy
- you support science, vaccinations, and understand climate change
- Respect for collective agreements and staff relationships
Feeling keen right now? Hear my thoughts on Daveberta podcast:
Public education advocate and school trustee Michael Janz joins Dave Cournoyer on this episode of the Daveberta Podcast to discuss the state of public education in Alberta and how cuts in the United Conservative Party‘s first provincial budget will impact the education system in our province. We also discuss what is behind the UCP’s drive to expand private and charter schools, and why the New Democratic Party did not cut the 70% subsidy for private schools in Alberta while they were in government.
Reflecting on the last 11 years:
When I was first elected in 2010, we were facing threats of school closures, cuts, and layoffs. Unafraid and often facing considerable threats and duress, our Board stood up for public education.
Over the past decade, our Board took many other courageous stands on important issues. By no means has our work been accomplished, but we were able to make gains, push other school boards and successive provincial governments to make progress. I am proud of what we have achieved over the last eleven years:
- Ensuring equity and protection of the most vulnerable responding to the pandemic including mental health and Wellness supports, school nutrition programs, and trauma-informed care.
- Advocating for more funding for public education and halting the continued public subsidy of private schools.
- Finding efficiencies and common-sense cost-saving measures such as shared transportation, purchasing, prioritizing resources for the classroom and schools.
- Taking action on climate change, solar on schools, and energy efficiency
- Pushing for justice and inclusion, taking action on anti-racism, implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, and speaking up for Syrian newcomer students and their families. Continued advocacy for sexual orientation and gender minority students. Honoring twenty-three new namesakes for new schools reflective of our whole city, and renaming two schools unworthy of the honor. Curriculum advocacy, including the inclusion of consent as a curricular outcome, financial literacy, anti-racism, and climate change, and advocating on the weighting of diploma exams.
- Stopping school closures - we turned a new page with the Edmonton City Council on our capital planning realities and building new replacement schools, and marshaling support for future “schools as community hubs” projects. Public safety, walkability, bikeability and safe routes to school.
- Impressive student achievement results and graduation rates that continue to track upward (at least until the UCP were elected). Strengthening Inclusive learning and accountability for use of seclusion rooms
- Pushing for a culture of transparency around financial disclosure and public engagement for the Edmonton Public School Board including starting to webcast meetings in 2010)
These are merely a few of the many other important issues that came across my desk. It was such an exciting role because of the variety of opportunities to engage with the community.
We have never had a provincial government so hostile to public services, public education, and adamant to socialize public risk while privatizing profits for the wealthiest. After their first term is complete, unless there is a dramatic course-correction, class sizes will be larger, school fees will be increased, schools will be closed, choices and programs cut, critical mental health supports eliminated, and the poverty, and hunger supports needed more than ever during the pandemic. The silence and inaction from provincial UCP on racism, poverty, and inequality are deafening. Students will be further segregated by the UCP at a time when unity is more important than ever.
The pandemic has exacerbated the cracks in our society that we already knew existed, including hardships on the most vulnerable 51,540 children living in poverty. Post-pandemic, what is the world that our children will inherit, given our economic reset and climate emergency? Are we building a society that is just, inclusive, and democratic?