The Alberta Party isn't going anywhere, but they do have a lot of work to do.At their Annual General Meeting two weekends ago, it was obvious party members were not only interested in moving forward, but also that it would be best to do so as a political party.
However, in my Highwood constituency, it means absolutely nothing unless the Alberta Party can gain some footing here. And my hope is that it does.
For the first time in a very long time, April saw two parties duke it out in Okotoks and High River. If you look at the history of MLAs in our area, it comes as no surprise that the MLA chosen was one who had the highest likelihood of being easily recognized. John Barlow had little chance of becoming a Minister, but Danielle Smith had a great chance of being the Premier, and an even better chance of being the Leader of the Opposition. Policy had little to do with it.
However, the position that Danielle Smith is in is one of a megaphone. All she can be is a noise-maker, and honestly Rob Anderson and Shayne Saskiw have been doing more of that. Due to the fact that she did not form government, what she says does not go in the Legislature, and the next three years will prove no different.
Eventually, Highwood will realize that their interests are far from being well-represented. They'll look at the Wildrose and say "you're not cutting it". They'll look at the PCs and say "you're not representing us well, either." They'll have to entertain someone new.
They won't entertain anybody who isn't local. Okotokians and High Riverites hate the idea of being represented by anyone outside their area. Nobody else gets how special our area is, from the culture we breed to the increasing economic influence we sway (with both communities experiencing 20+% growth in the past year). Nobody else gets our challenges either, from our water shortages to our changing demographics. Anybody who represents us must know us.
Liberals and NDP have not been able to mount a local representative for a few elections now. The likelihood of them finding someone is slim.
Not true for the Alberta Party. The Alberta Party will not run anywhere it can't find a local candidate. It's part of their charm, as is their "Big Listen" process, where party members are in personal interactions with constituents about the issues that matter to them, and that any Alberta Party MLA is expected to do the same once elected. And I'm pretty certain finding a local candidate will not be hard. The Alberta Party just needs to help Highwood constituents know why they are relevant, and that will take a lot of work. (Writer's note, if you are interested in helping get started on that work, because you believe in the principles of the Alberta Party, let me know!)
Will Highwood entertain the possibility of the Alberta Party? That depends on whether or not they actually consider policy and principle.
Unless the Wildrose does a significant update of their policies in 2013, they run the risk of being the "Danielle Smith and the BoZo Eruptions" show, and soon the people of Highwood will realize that isn't enough.
Unless the PCs start showing they can actually listen to Alberta citizens, no amount of rhetoric will ever convince the Highwood constituency otherwise. They've already been down that path with the unceremonious removal of George Groeneveld as Agriculture Minister. It is a big reason why people started entertaining the idea of Danielle Smith.
So if Highwood residents really begin looking at policy, and the principles that they want their representatives to live by, the Alberta Party will be here waiting. The Alberta Party has lots of work to do, but are not going to shy away from it. That way Highwood gets the representation it deserves.
It is amazing, as a teacher, how many viewpoints I've heard over the past few months about the now-famous "No Zero" policy of certain school boards in our province. I've been asked to weigh in on it a number of times, and I'm sure that a weighing in on it could be of great risk to my career. However, I recently realized that if I'm not passionate enough about education to say something about something that bothers me, I'm not passionate enough to teach.The story goes like this; a teacher hands out zeros to students who do not turn in work. This teacher has decades of experience, and is in line-of-sight from retirement. The school division recently came out with a policy that students should not be allowed to get zeros. The teacher gets suspended, reviewed, and eventually fired for not following this directive of the school division.
First, the teacher should have been fired. As a contracted employee, he is required to follow the directives of his employer. He did not, and he should have been fired.
That doesn't mean I agree with the policy. My question becomes "what about his students?" Although not contracted employees, they are still required to follow the directives of the teacher. They did not, should they not receive equal consequences?
Insert argument here about how zeros can damage a kid's mental well-being. While we're at it, insert a reference to a study proving such (you know, the study done on 6 special needs students).
Has anybody been daring enough to actually do a REAL study? This study should at the very least have two sizeable control groups, one permitted to get zeros, one where zeros are unacceptable. The study should not only follow the students through their formative years, but into adulthood as well, and use employment performance as a measurement tool.
While we're at it, we should do a REAL study on the other extreme, a No 100% system. Because the only person who was perfect died 2000 years ago on a cross.
You see, if a student is never allowed to fail in school, it follows that the same student should expect the same consequences in the workplace. Insert chorus of agreement here from people who have actually employed these students.
But also insert a vehement opposition to the idea that schools prepare students for real life. The unfortunate thing about this is that schools, although they say they prepare kids for the real world, don't. Nothing about high school is anything like the real world. Nobody goes to work, sits in rows, and listens to a lecture. Few people are lucky enough to write essays as their contribution to society and actually get paid for it (I'm certainly not lucky enough). School does NOT prepare students for the real world. At least, not in its present form.
So don't get mad at the No Zero policy, the Grade Level of Achievement system, the Provincial Achievement Tests and Diplomas, and the dichotomous expectations of academic excellence mingled with character development. Get mad at the bureaucrats who don't let teachers do their job.
I don't tell a doctor how to diagnose a medical condition. I don't tell a lawyer how to debate or research. I don't tell a police officer how to approach a domestic dispute. I'm not a professional in those fields.
So why is it okay to tell a teacher how to teach? Why do we have "No Zero" policies, high-stakes provincial tests (for which a student will still receive a zero if they don't complete them), or for that matter, standardized report cards?
If you hire us as professionals, treat us as such. We know how to instruct. We know how to assess. I didn't spend over $60,000 on University, making no money at all for 6 years, to learn how to do what I'm told. I spent it to learn how to do my job properly. If my teaching style requires the ability to assign zeros, to give 100%s, or to give no grades at all, then I should be given the latitude to do so, because I've been trained how to do this.
So the next time I'm asked what I think about this "No Zeros" thing, this will be my response;
"Just let me teach."