The campaign for Misty4Trustee is over and I have a few things that need to be said.
First, some well-deserved thanks and then some thoughts about the campaign we ran and a little about the future.
Thank you to the dedicated volunteers who helped me run my campaign. You are all my heroes!
Thank you to the 4220 residents in Wards 6 & 7 who put a check beside my name just a little over a week ago. I am humbled and honoured that you put your faith in me.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to talk with me about your hopes for the Calgary Board of Education and to question me about my views and intentions. Whether it was at your front door or in your living room, at a coffee shop or an LRT station, on the phone or by email, these conversations will always be one of the highlights of my campaign for Calgary Public School Board Trustee.
I continue to believe that meaningful conversations between students, parents and educators are necessary and vital to the continuance of positive growth in the Calgary Board of Education.
The current atmosphere in Calgary is vibrant and positive. The city is so loved and everyone wants to be a part of building community. We see it in the 3 Things For Calgary and just over 100 days ago we witnessed how the spirit of community can sustain us and reshape us even in times of devastation. I think it is not only sad but it is detrimental that the CBE is not on the receiving end of such a positive community force. It is vital that we have a shift in perspective, a change in the tone of our conversation and project our goals for the CBE with a positive and proactive outlook. We are in times of change and with the resignation of our Chief Superintendent, the challenge will be to find a Superintendent who is a strong communicator so that the message of what the CBE is doing right can reach the citizens of Calgary. It has been demoralizing to families, students and educators to be told at every turn that the CBE is doing wrong and doing it intentionally.
I do not, as was insinuated by some, believe that rainbows, hugs, or positive beams of light and love are the answer to problems. I do wholeheartedly believe that there is incredible power when a community is united with a common goal in mind. And a few of you could really use a hug but hey, don’t we all?
Immediately following the end of the campaign, I was asked if I would run again in 4 years. I didn’t have an immediate answer. My motivation for running this time around was that I saw a need for hopeful and positive representation in the ward that I lived in and I knew that I could fill that need. So, even though I have no political aspirations, I threw my name in the hat.
It’s been a week now and I have had some time to process the campaign and the effect it had on me. I also participated in We Day and there is nothing that motivates and inspires like We Day.
Over 18000 students packed into the Saddledome and their entrance fee was one local and one global act of service. Speakers like Amanda Lindhout and Spencer West reminded us of the power we have to change the world by our response to situations. Speakers like Hannah Alper and Vishal Vijay spoke to the power of actions, no matter how small, that empower us to “be the change” that we want to see in the world. Then our newly relected Mayor addressed us and he said, “Use your power to make sure that every child in this world has the opportunity to live a great life.”
So, one week later, I have an answer for those of you who wondered if I will consider running again in 2017. I am going to spend the next four years doing my part as an engaged citizen of Calgary and encouraging you to do the same. I am currently a volunteer on the board at my son’s preschool and I foresee many conversations ahead involving his educational experience. Like anyone else, I want my child to have an exceptional education experience that provides him with the tools for a successful and happy life. If that means running for Trustee in 2017, I will not hesitate to throw my name in the hat again.
Until then, let’s all do our part. Let’s support our students and educators by uniting and insisting on positive and meaningful conversations. You can start by reading this brilliant letter written by Alison Van Rosendaal and sharing it with your friends. I look forward to interacting with you!
Two common things I hear while I am door-knocking are:
1. I don’t have children so I don’t vote for a school board trustee.
2. Where do I vote?
1. Everyone should take an interest in who gets elected to the board of trustees. Our schools are largely responsible for turning out successful and engaged citizens of tomorrow. We are all part of a community and the choices we make can have an immediate effect or a ripple effect in the environment around us.
This election it is critical that we elect trustees with the right motives to the board of trustees. The Chief Superintendent of the CBE, Naomi Johnson, has recently resigned and the new board of trustees will be responsible for hiring a new Chief Superintendent. This process will shape public education in Calgary for the next 5 years and beyond.
We are a community and we are responsible for each other. I am asking you to consider voting for a trustee even if you don’t have students in the system. After all, you may someday have a child that is affected by this new board of trustees and even if not, the future of the world we live in will be shaped by the students we are now educating.
2. The Mayor has made it easy to find all of the information we need regarding this election. Head over to www.nenshi.ca/vote to get your questions answered. There is even an option to type in your address and get directions to your polling station. Don’t forget to take your ID and your friends. Let’s make a difference!
It’s been a busy few weeks leading up to Monday’s election, and I’ve been working to personally answer every email I receive. Since there are a few issues that come up repeatedly, I thought I’d post some of my perspectives here.
On large class sizes:
This is an instance where we need to lobby the province for more funding. Until we get more funding, we should look at creative ways to use the resources we do have to ensure that every student has access to the resources they need to excel. For example, we can prioritize getting more teachers in the lower grades where class sizes are the most critical and add support and resources to higher grades.
On bus fees:
We can all agree there should be minimum transportation costs for students attending their designated schools. I would advocate for more neighbourhood schools where we need them, which should cut down on bussing fees.
If a family chooses to send their child (or children) to a program of their choice that requires transportation, part of that decision-making process should include the true cost of that transportation. I don’t believe that cost should be spread across the board, affecting an already tight budget and families who choose a school in their neighbourhood.
On siblings within the system:
Siblings not getting priority within a school is a real issue for a lot of families in Wards 6 and 7, and it’s important that we do something to address this.
Having siblings attend the same school (when this is desired by the family) has so many positive effects; it builds a stronger school community, is easier on families who work to build relationships within the school system, and it enables siblings to support each other and relate to their collective school experience.
Forcing families to handle the logistics of having children in two (or more) schools is not ideal; the short answer is yes, we need to figure out a way to get this policy in place.
In recent years, the CBE has been criticized for a lack of transparency - I think it’s worth pointing out that most information, including board meeting schedules, agendas, reports, video and minutes, are readily available online. So if you as a parent would like to know what’s on the agenda or what was discussed in a board meeting, you can access that information directly.
We have been told that the board is not being transparent, but I think the real issue is communication - we can all be involved in improving and strengthening channels of communication between administrators, trustees, teachers and families.
All students should feel safe and secure in their environments.
We need to help our students gain confidence and we need to let them know that every case of bullying will be addressed.
Bullying is different now than when any of us were in school, and it needs to be addressed differently.
We need to lead by example.
We also need to encourage safe internet usage, and parents and schools should be part of this discussion.
The current atmosphere in Calgary is vibrant and positive. The city is so loved and everyone wants to be a part of building community.
We see it in the 3 Things For Calgary and just over 100 days ago, during the Southern Alberta floods, we witnessed how the spirit of community can sustain us and reshape us even in times of devastation.
I think it is not only sad but detrimental that the Calgary Board of Education is not on the receiving end of such a positive community force.
We are in times of change and with the resignation of our Chief Superintendent, the challenge will be to find a Superintendent who is a strong communicator, so that the message of what the CBE is doing right can reach the citizens of Calgary.
It has been demoralizing to families students and educators to be told at every turn that the CBE is doing wrong and doing it intentionally.
It is vital that we have a shift in perspective, a change in the tone of our conversation and project our goals for the CBE with a positive and proactive outlook.
Many of the questions I get are about my focus and what I would do if elected. Here are my top 3 priorities:
1. Change our perspective: We need to recognize that we are all on the same side and our biggest strength will be working together.
2. Make sure every student has access to the resources needed in order to excel.
3. Be open to trying new solutions to existing problems. With a willingness to experiment and grab every opportunity for a fresh perspective, I think we can meet our collective goals.