Mary Martin, president, Alberta School Boards Association

OPINION: Nova Scotia’s decision to dismantle English school boards is a mistake

Speaking in favour of keeping local school boards, in this opinion from the ASBA

By Mary Martin, president, Alberta School Boards Association

Nova Scotia’s decision to dismantle its seven English school boards as per the recommendations of the Glaze Report “Raise the Bar” is not only disappointing, but gravely concerning.

“Raise the Bar” was developed following a scant three week consultation last fall, and contains a number of concerning comments. For example, the report states that lack of turnover in trustees is indicative of disinterest and an inability to attract qualified candidates, when in fact, those who serve do so because they are passionate about our children’s education. In fact, the work is challenging, marginally compensated and critically important.

Additionally, the report cites outdated student achievement data, places a disproportionate emphasis on standardized test scores and ignores a plethora of socioeconomic factors for which good governance can be a solution.

In short, the Glaze Report, and the Nova Scotia government’s decision to dismantle school boards both fail to acknowledge the value locally-elected school boards bring to our communities.

As President of the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA), and on behalf of Alberta’s 61 member public, separate and francophone school boards, I am saddened by the Nova Scotia government’s decision to eliminate locally-elected school boards.

School boards have a long history of demonstrating value.

By virtue of being locally-elected, school boards’ abilities to reflect community voices and priorities in decision-making has resulted in Alberta being recognized as one of the best education systems in the world. Well-governed school boards that are connected and responsive to their communities ensure an education system best positioned to deliver value to the communities and families they serve.

For Albertans who do not have children in our school system, I would like to say that K-12 education impacts every person. Every day, each of us interacts with someone whose success as an adult was shaped by their educational experience. That is why school board elections where every citizen has a choice in determining how the K-12 education system is governed are important.

Unlike a centralized system accountable only to the minister, as the Nova Scotia system will be organized, school boards recognize the importance of working collaboratively with their communities, government, and each other as partners in education.

Now, I acknowledge that governance decisions can be difficult; however, school boards, in representing the priorities of the communities they serve, often balance diverse and at times conflicting perspectives. What may appear to be dysfunction—as the report states—is more accurately school boards expressing their due diligence to make fully-informed decisions. As locally-elected representatives, they are connected with — and responsive to — their local communities, and are uniquely positioned to ensure the very best outcomes for all students.

As Alberta prepares for the next provincial election, all of the parties will have important policy conversations about K-12 education. ASBA expects the crucial governance role of locally-elected school boards will be invited, respected and honoured in those discussions and decisions.

I urge each and every one of us as Albertans to strongly consider how our votes will impact our lives, and the lives of Alberta’s youngest citizens.

Because their future affects us all.

Just Posted

Lacombe selected as 2019 Canada Games Torch Relay stop

The MNP Canada Games Torch Relay is a significant element of the Canada Games

Seventh annual ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ set for June 7th

Red Deer fundraising event to take place at The Outreach Centre

RDC introduces Justice Studies diploma to fill community gap

Forty students will begin studies in Fall 2018

City of Lacombe Block Party program heats up for summer

City looks to create close-knit neighbourhoods

WATCH: Red Deer Citizen of the Year and Young Citizen of the Year announced

Terry Loewen and Gian Carlo Estoesta landed this year’s honours

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

Vote points to abortion being legalized in Ireland

Voters asked whether to keep or repeal Eighth Amendment to Roman Catholic Ireland’s Constitution

Canadian soccer officials talk up World Cup bid at Champions League final

Current bid calls for 2026 World Cup games to be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico

WATCH: Alix holds 2nd annual Icebreaker Roughstock

Many come out to see some intense rodeo action

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

Most Read