Sustainable Public Education: David Barrett Running for Ward 8/9 Public School Board
David Barrett has a toddler who will be in public school in a few years.
That is why he wants to make the Calgary Board of Education a place where children can get a high level education. To do this, he presents himself in neighborhoods 8/9 as a candidate for the post of public school commissioner.
“The next generation is going to be grappling with a lot of tough issues and tough decisions,” Barrett told LiveWire Calgary.
“And the first step in making sure they have the tools to make these decisions and solve these problems is a strong public education system.”
Barrett, a scientist by trade and president of the Renfrew Community Association, said it is important to ensure there is strong leadership around the board of directors of the CBE.
Three things pushed him to move forward on this journey to become a school commissioner. First, her child. Also ensure adequate funding for education and create a welcoming and inclusive education system with few barriers for students and families.
“Neighborhood and socioeconomic status should not in any way drive or influence the quality of the education you are able to receive or the programs you have access to,” Barrett said.
5 key elements for education
Barrett said one of his main goals is to secure a long-term funding plan for the public education system.
“To do that, we really need to use the data to make decisions about our advocacy,” he said.
He also disagrees with the current proposed K-6 curriculum. Barrett said they need to engage experts in developing this agenda, not political ideology.
“One thing that is very evident is that experts in the fields have been left out at all levels of the discussion of this decision-making process,” he said.
Barrett said a less sexy element is the coordination between the school board and the city. They have to coordinate development activities in Calgary. This includes development in established areas of the city.
“I think it’s really important that it be noted that your education council is involved in these discussions very deeply and from the start,” he said.
Barrett said it was disappointing that there had been a disconnect over the years between the city and the CBE.
Fostering an anti-racist and reconciling approach in school is also important. He said he didn’t want to pick fruit at hand, the dragging of the CBE’s part in changing Langevin School to Riverside is an example of a process that needs to change.
Finally, he said administrators need to be open and available. He thinks the work is underestimated, but this is in part due to a lack of communication with citizens.
“We need a strong school board that advocates doing this hard work for our students,” he said.
Fees are a barrier to access
Barrett said rising tuition fees are a problem. Families can pay hundreds, if not thousands, for the cost of transportation and dining room supervision.
“We must do everything in our power to remove them. And especially for those who need it most, ”he said.
The board should ensure that they are as low as possible and that the administration of the CBE is as efficient as possible. He said the only big problem with this is the lack of a sustainable funding model from the province.
“This is no longer a true public school, not everyone can afford to have access to the same programs,” Barrett said.
“It’s essential that we don’t say, ‘Well, you can’t afford to buy sheet music, so sorry you can’t. It is not fair and it is extremely disheartening.
Revisiting the development
Barrett has been an advocate in his community for proper planning and growth in established areas.
He said bringing this expertise to the table will help better future planning to keep schools in downtown neighborhoods.
“It’s one of those things that if you are planning a demographic change in the community, one of the key services that would be affected would be education,” he said.
“The fact that you can suggest that you are going to have tremendous growth in certain areas of the city without considering the effect or the timing or the effect it would have on schools, is disappointing. “
He said the board needed someone who was familiar with these aspects of community development going forward.
Barrett said he has a history of successful advocacy – particularly at the community level in Ward 9.
He said leadership is needed at the school board level to ensure a strong future for public education.
“For some time now we’ve seen a Calgary school board that is rather reactionary and slow to tackle critical issues,” Barrett said.
He said he is a passionate supporter of the public school system.
“I would use my voice to really stand up for the students. And as I have emphasized many times, I will rely on data and experts to drive my decision-making process, ”Barrett said.
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