FAQ / AMA

Can I volunteer if I live outside of the Ward

A:

Absolutely! Contact michael@michaeljanz.ca and we would be happy to find a role that suits your skillset. From putting up and taking down signs, to delivering flyers, to hosting parties and knocking on doors, all volunteer help is appreciated. Visit www.michaeljanz.ca/volunteer

Do you support "full inclusion" of special needs students?

...and should the district do away with specialized sites like Edmonton Catholic did?

- J.C via email (michael@michaeljanz.ca)

A:

As a general rule, I am wary of one-size-fits-all solutions and it is important that we continue to respond to parent demand by offering both specialized supports as well as inclusive opportunities for all students. Some families have been clear that they want their child in a full or partial inclusive setting. Others families have asked me to continue to protect specialized programming sites. 

As trustee, I will continue to advocate to support options for programming within Edmonton Public.

I've seen hundreds of examples of how inclusion can be successful, but I’ve also heard dozens of challenging stories from teachers and parents about cases where more must be done.

I will continue to advocate for the classroom supports, teacher training, and additional programming opportunities to ensure that all children can be successful.

Do you support vaccinations as a requirement to attend Edmonton Public Schools?

Do you support Vaccinations? And should they be a requirement to attend Edmonton Public Schools?

- Michael (another one!) (who asked me when I was out door knocking)

A:

I encourage you to get vaccinated. I am vaccinated. My son is vaccinated. My family supports vaccinations. I hope his future classmates are vaccinated because of the importance of herd immunity. I want our schools to be safe and caring learning environments, and taking care of our own health against dangerous and deadly disease is a first step.

The question of whether or not vaccination should be a requirement to attend public schools is a matter of debate in the legal community, and I have been previously advised by legal council that a vaccination requirement would not be legally allowed and could mire us in expensive court challenges. That being said, because of the public health urgency of this question, I encourage you to talk to your friends about vaccination and support scientific, evidence-based decision making.

Learn More: http://www.health.alberta.ca/health-info/immunization.html

I will continue to advocate for immunizations and positive health and wellness outcomes for all students, staff, and families.

Do you support home (or parent directed) schooling?

A:

As a general rule, I don't support one-size-fits-all solutions and I know that flexibility to respond in education is essential. One of the reasons I am proud to be a trustee for Edmonton Public Schools is our fantastic suite of programs and alternative education offerings we can provide to students and families-- within an efficient, transparent, and accountable public school system.

Many don't know this, but Edmonton Public Schools actually offers Home Education programs through Argyll Centre. Thousands of students across Alberta benefit from the fantastic staff and efforts of our school district in compliance with the provincial Home Education Regulation and Alberta Curriculum. You can be a home schooled student through Edmonton Public Schools!

I have supported and continue to support our work through Argyll Centre, and as a trustee, I will continue to advocate in support of their excellent work.

 

Related: https://www.epsb.ca/programs/homeeducation/homeschoolingparent-directed/

I will continue to advocate for programs of choice, parent choice, and support flexibility and programming options for families.

Do you support parental notification if a child attends a Gay Straight Alliance?

A:

No. I wrote about why "outing" students who join GSAs is dangerous and contributes to youth homelessness and worse in detail here: www.michaeljanz.ca/gsa. I urge you to sign the petition in support.

I have voted consistently in support of vulnerable students over the past seven years as your trustee.

The genesis of this question was that students asked us "Will we be "outed"? (their words) and these fears are as real as the 40%+ of homeless youth who are queer and kicked out of their homes.  For some these are very real safety and security issues where they sadly do not have a supportive home because of homophobia.

Here are some remarks public speakers shared at our September 12th Board Meeting:

Clare said: - "Easy to reaffirm this today. Students need to know where the board stands as we enter the school year."

Shelagh said - “Particularly at this moment in time. Important to send a message to all students in alberta."

Alisa, (Aged 14!):  "Parents have a right to know what’s going on in their children’s lives, but Kids deserve a place to live” (about her friends facing homelessness if outed). 

The stories were very moving and I encourage you to watch them (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqspHJYz1Fk&feature=youtu.be - full video skip to 30:00)

I hope that if my child had any issue that I have created a safe home for them to come and share with me, but sometimes talking to peers is easier. 

I know that the majority of parents are very caring, but the youth homeless numbers of LGBTQ youth tell us that some still aren’t, and in order to protect all students, It’s better to let students share in their own time. They are afraid, facing violence, and need reassurance about their human rights and dignity as individuals. Some have even expressed fear of being sent for “conversion therapy” — a practice that is illegal in Manitoba and Ontario.

Sadly Homophobia is still very present in our community. If a motion had been brought forward the same way writing a letter to condemn religious discrimination, I would have voted to immediately write a letter as well. I hope one day that this changes and it is just as easy for children to tell their parents they are gay as if they have became a Christian. But in the meantime, that’s up to them to decide when and how they disclose.

How can we improve outcomes in Mathematics?

A:

You will not find one trustee, parent, teacher, or educator who does not want to improve math education in Edmonton Public — and across Alberta. We must ensure that all students have mastery of the basics (mental math, making change etc.) and that each student is able to excel at complex problem solving questions. This is not an "either/or" but rather a "both/and". Everyone in Education wants to improve Math results and we know that it is complicated and requires multiple strategies and interventions in curriculum, assessment, teacher training, and much more.

At the Board level, we’ve spent a great deal of time reviewing Math and Numeracy outcomes, and we’ve improved access to Teacher professional development with a prioritization on numeracy. Since 2014, I have supported and celebrated the MIPI (Math Intervention Programming instrument), a formative evaluation tool to assist teachers in identifying areas needed for intervention. 

Everyone agrees that there’s more work to be done and that there are short-term and long-term steps that the provincial government is taking that will help ensure outcomes in Math improve.

I will continue to use my role as trustee to support district efforts to improve math outcomes by continuing to review and support emerging tools and training options. I will also stay in constant dialogue with the provincial government, advocating for a stronger math emphasis in the provincial curriculum.

Speaking of provincial curriculum, please review the advocacy I've led for financial and consumer literacy for students: (http://www.edmontonsun.com/2017/05/09/edmonton-public-school-trustees-want-more-finance-lessons-in-classes

What are your thoughts about Provincial Curriculum Revisions?

A:

Curriculum is determined at the provincial level (not by the different school boards) and is ultimately signed off on by the Minister of Education. It is consistently reviewed on an ongoing basis and updated regularly. As trustee, I have taken the time to ask questions and advocate on important concerns I have heard from my constituents. There are a number of themes I hear again and again, and for which I will continue to advocate: we need to teach our children evidence-based information; we need proficiency in basic competencies such as reading, writing, and mathematics; and we need a curriculum that fosters new tools such as critical thinking and financial literacy. I will continue to push for the basics, while also making sure students have the new tools and techniques they’ll need for a changing global world. These goals are not mutually exclusive, and our students will need both to success.

However, there’s an important distinction here in the Board’s role. The content -- “what” is taught -- is determined by teachers and experts through the provincial curriculum redesign. The methodology -- “how” those outcomes are taught -- is up to your classroom teacher. I will continue to advocate for smaller class sizes, supports, and tools to make sure teachers can do the best possible job of the “how.”   

 

Do you support a Junk food ban for schools?

Do you support a junk food ban for schools?

A:

I have, and continue to support the Edmonton Public Schools policy of banning "junk food" and have actively worked towards the removal of sugar-added beverages from our schools. I have worked with healthy living advocates to incorporate wellness education and policy actions into our schools.

Student health is critical work for school boards. Youngsters are only in school for 8 hours a day, so it is critical to equip them to make healthy decisions outside of school hours.

I encourage you to read the letter below from my friend and former colleague Trustee Dave Colburn from today's Edmonton Journal:

September 26th, 2017 • Edmonton Journal
Author: Edmonton Journal
In 2007, the Edmonton Public School Board became the first school board in Alberta to ban the sale of junk food in schools.

On June 26, the Edmonton Journal published an article referencing the release of a study out of the University of New Brunswick which revealed a positive link between weight reduction and school jurisdictions banning junk food sales. Students who did not have access to junk-food purchases at school for five or more years, were on average, two pounds lighter than students in schools where junk food was sold.

For trustees who supported this decision in 2007, believing intuitively that banning junk food would inevitably have positive consequences for weight and health, this data is not surprising. The research is significant, however, in that it is the first Canadian data speaking to the value of banning junk food sales.

Since 2005, six provinces have imposed bans on junk-food sales in schools. Regrettably, Alberta is not one of those provinces. A recent study by the Alberta School Board Association on health policies in Alberta school districts revealed that only 15 per cent of Alberta boards have mandated the elimination of junk-food sales.

At this rate, it may be 20-30 years before Alberta catches up to other provinces. Provincial legislation would change the landscape immediately. Our current provincial government has been silent on junk food. The children of Alberta deserve more than silence.

Dave Colburn, former Edmonton Public Schools trustee, 2004-2013
  • published this page in Issues 2017-09-07 09:32:09 -0600

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