The results are in: Three courageous trustees stood for families and for the safety of all children by defeating the secrecy motion put forward by Trustee Bridget Stirling.
Stirling’s use of the rare “waiver of notice of motion” – never used before in this 4 year trustee term – would have forced a hasty debate and vote with only 6 days notice, instead of allowing for the full month that is normally required.
Because of its rushed timeline, procedure states that a “waiver of notice of motion” requires unanimous support from the nine trustees in order to even proceed to debate.
With 6 trustees in favour and 3 opposed, the waiver of notice of motion was defeated.
This is in no small part because of you, the caring parents and citizens of Edmonton.
Thank you to those who responded on a very short timeline. In less than 48 hours you sent an influx of messages of concern to trustees, urging them to consider the issue more deeply. Had you not sent in your messages, they never would have known the magnitude of public concern.
Thank you to trustees Orville Chubb (Ward C), Ken Gibson (Ward E) and Sherry Adams (Ward I) who heard your concerns and wisely decided that a decision so important deserves proper consultation, analysis and debate beyond just six days notice in order to make the most effective and informed decision for the care of students. Let them know you noticed and that you appreciate their vote.
They took a stand for you and your children.
Now you need to take a stand for them.
Because I guarantee that the attacks will now come.
Unfortunately those who raise reasonable and legitimate concerns are all too often labelled as being extremist, anti-everything and against children.
Yet nothing could be farther from the truth.
It is precisely because we care for the safety of all children that we continue to speak out in support of families, transparency, accountability and a thoughtful, balanced approach.
It is because we love our children that we will fight to be part of their lives, even when certain elected representatives feel others are more suited for the job.
Trustee Bridget Stirling may be well-meaning, but her presumption that children’s health outcomes would be improved by enforcing blanket motions of secrecy and isolation, is wrong.
A child simply having a space to talk with peers and gain support in schools can be beneficial.
However, if we truly care about the long-term health of any child then we should not stop there.
Our priority must always be to move toward engaging sources of support beyond just the school, especially when children are struggling and at-risk. Most often, this will be the child’s family, but could also include health professionals, counsellors from agencies beyond the school, etc.
If a child relies solely on a peer-support group within the four walls of a school, then what happens when that child moves to a different school or a different city?
A child with multiple sources of support will have much stronger long-term success than a child who has relied on only one source of support.
Open-ness, transparency, and a focus on mediation and enhancing communication leads to health.
Fostering an attitude of secrecy and an inherent mistrust of others does the opposite.
All hands on deck
This next month will be intense. It will be a trustee election like no other.
The decision of which candidates end up forming our next trustee boards in the province is completely up to you.
According to Bridget’s tweet tonight she plans to still be on the Board after the Oct. 16th election and will continue to push for her privacy and confidentiality motion.
Electors in Edmonton’s Ward G will decide whether that happens or not.
If you truly care about the education of children in this province then don’t sit on the sidelines as we lead up to the important October 16th election.
Learn about the candidates in your school district (refer to the list being compiled by Parents for Choice in Education).
And, most importantly, step up to support the candidates who will best represent your concerns and values:
1. Sign-up as a volunteer.
2. Donate money to print signs and brochures.
5. Tell every single person you know to do the same.
It doesn’t even matter if a candidate is in your area. This is the time we need all hands on deck, no matter where you live.
And my last piece of advice is this: You will likely hear media reports trying to smear the courageous individuals who do care about the safety of children and the importance of families. I urge you to bypass the media spin and make a decision based on what candidates have to say for themselves.
One way you can learn where candidates stand is to sign up on the homepage of Parents for Choice in Education so you will receive candidate questionnaire responses delivered directly to your inbox as soon as they are released on October 1st.
So there you have it, Albertans.
The power is in your hands. If you don’t like how your trustee voted then it’s time to replace them.
This motion – and the fact that Stirling intentionally connected it to the Minister Eggen’s recent decision to amend the School Act – only goes to show that if you do want to be part of your child’s life then you will need to fight for it.
Now more than ever.