I’ve been wrestling with the Calgary Board of Education for a couple of years, now. And it’s not for anything complicated. To be honest, all I have is a simple hope: to have my children go to a school where they don’t have to worry about if they’re staying in the school, or if there will be a school at all. Note that this is a “hope”, not anything more concrete…
Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to realize a few nasty things about how the public education system works in this city. The internals of the CBE are highly secretive (finding out who is actually in charge of certain things is about as easy as learning the inner workings of CSIS), and so intensely political that decisions appear to be made utterly at random, against student interests. None of this seems to go through check-and-balance because … well, there’s no accountability to anyone, nor does anyone take responsibility.
As a result the CBE, as a whole, is failing. And that needs to change.
Continue reading How to fix the Calgary Board of Education
I’m having some serious trouble, Choo Choo. You’re five. FIVE. You’ve hit that penultimate step from wee babe to being a grade-schooler (the last, obviously, is going to Kindergarten; at least we have a few months before that).
But still, five.
Continue reading Happy 5th Birthday, Choo Choo
Well, Monkey, you’re seven.
Like, seven. I’m having trouble really saying that. It’s just weird that you’re so much older than I always feel like you should be. You’re growing up a little more every day, and flit between my little girl and … well, kind of an evil genius, really.
And truly, both are awesome.
Continue reading A birthday hike
I like writing. [Insert world’s largest ‘Well, DUH!’ here.] And while I’ve been content to write a blog — great practice for any writer, if you ask me — it’s just not the same as when you write for someone else.
Which I have. I’ve been fortunate enough to write a few things (articles, not long ones) for which I’ve been paid, and presumably read. That’s a bit more rewarding than merely standing on a soapbox and yelling into The Void. But even that isn’t quite enough.
I think that’s what I wanted to write a book. But not the one I just published.
Continue reading So, I wrote a book…
Well, Choo Choo, today I’m having a “last” moment. Today was your last full day as a three year-old. Tomorrow is your birthday. Tomorrow, you turn four.
And I will miss you being three immensely. You are my last three year-old.
Continue reading Goodbye, my lovely three year-old
Yesterday evening, my family trucked down to 96th Ave SW, invited by the Calgary Board of Education (along with the other families in the Westgate School Bilingual Spanish program) to view the “new” school, Eugene Coste Elementary. It was supposed to be a chance to see the new location, and ask questions of the CBE Area IV director, as well as the Planning & Transportation folks.
I emphasize the word “supposed” — that was the CBE’s perspective. They thought they would get a lot of interest, and a lot of people who were genuinely happy that a solution had been found for the accommodation woes at Westgate School, which is at over 90% of its rated capacity.
But, funny thing, there weren’t many happy people.
Continue reading Selling the awful to the angry
Way back in 2012, the Calgary Board of Education asked the parents of Westgate School what they thought of the CBE’s plan to try and alleviate the overpopulation problem. We were engaged, we went to many meetings, and then we waited. A lot. And, heaven help us, we told them to make up their minds.
A week ago today, they told us. And we didn’t like the answer. Not remotely. It wasn’t worst-case — it was worse than that: it was an option never previously hinted at, and while it did address some of the things that the parents had been asked for, it was wrapped up in a big ribbon of stink. In short, the Westgate Spanish program was going to be taken away.
I suppose this is a lesson in “be careful what you wish for”.
Continue reading Trying to save Westgate Spanish
I blinked, and 2013 kind of vanished on me. It’s a blur, a seemingly endless stream of activity that rarely relented long enough for me to appreciate any of it. I have pictures to prove it, sure, but I have to struggle sometimes to remember the date, or what else might have happened.
I’m fairly certain this isn’t (solely) a result of age. It’s parenthood. It’s a rigorous schedule that keeps the family machine moving at quite a pace. Between work schedules (which alternate such that Alex and I resemble “ships passing in the night”), school schedules, various after school activities, and the family activities, there’s very little time for much else.
Like, say, writing a blog.
Continue reading New year, renewed hope
By tradition, our family does afternoon (or high) tea on 1 January, and thus far it has always been at a Fairmont hotel (which, frankly, does excellent afternoon tea). This year, almost exactly one year ago today, we had our tea as planned. But last week, we came to the realization that we could not effectively hold to our traditional date, as Alex has an evening shift, and getting back from Banff in time was nigh-impossible without rushing.
Local? The Palliser doesn’t start until 2pm, which makes rushing just as much a problem. And no-one else in Calgary seems to be open on New Years Day. For afternoon tea, that is.
And it wasn’t for a lack of looking. I even went to my internet compatriots for suggestions. I got the name of nearly every tea house in Calgary, but no others that served afternoon tea. It seems harder than it should be…
Continue reading New Year’s (Eve) Tea
Hi, CBE? I’m a concerned parent. Yeah, I know you’ve heard from a lot of us in the last year regarding what you want to do with Westgate Elementary. You’ve heard so much, you’re not listening to us anymore, which I can understand — there’s only so much you can hear before you’ve heard enough.
But we — that’s you as the Board, and us as parents — have a problem: there’s no decision. The school is still over-populated, and despite having pulled another grade out, there’s going to be too many students for next year.
So … what’s going on? We need an answer. And preferably now, and not at the end of this school year.
Continue reading Calgary Board of Education: we need a decision on Westgate Elementary