EDUCATION MINISTER NEEDS TO DO HOMEWORK AND ANSWER THE BELL – Column, CTV Edmonton — and a poll

It begins with the unsung heroes of this province’s education system. The people who, very quietly, go about their job — which is so much more than a job — to support our province’s youth, its most valuable resource, the best opportunity to succeed.

  • I’s Saturday afternoono when the provincial government’s department of education’s public relations machine hits the send button. 

Newsrooms — radio, television and newspaper — are working with a skeleton staff, and are quite busy with the hourly COVID-19 story, so it seems the perfect time to drop some unfortunate news.

Their unfortunate news comes as a press release.

It’s Saturday afternoon when the provincial government’s department of education’s public relations machine hits the send button.

Newsrooms — radio, television and newspaper — are working with a skeleton staff, and are quite busy with the hourly COVID-19 story, so it seems the perfect time to drop some unfortunate news.

Their unfortunate news comes as a press release.

It’s Saturday after all. We cannot disturb Education Minister Adriana LaGrange from her personal weekend activities, can we, to host a press conference and ask potentially awkward questions, can we?

It is, after all, a sensitive story: slashing funding for educational assistants, substitute teachers, bussing and other services not currently used since Alberta school doors were closed.

I have tried, for hours, to come up with a diplomatic and professional adjective to adequately describe this form of communication.

I failed.

By not having LaGrange available to the media is a public relations blunder beyond logic.

It’s an insult, too, to Alberta taxpayers.

Sending out a release and tweets on such a significant announcement is not only lazy — it’s disrespectful to taxpayers who, please do not ever take for granted, dig in their pockets and shell out for six-figure salaries.

And cabinet ministers can’t have a Saturday press conference during a historic time to, personally, address a major issue like this?

But — more sadly — the minister’s public relations, or lack of, is not the meat and potatoes of this tale.

Hardly.

It begins with the unsung heroes of this province’s education system. The people who, very quietly, go about their job — which is so much more than a job — to support our province’s youth, its most valuable resource, the best opportunity to succeed.

It might be driving a bus.

It might be helping a student with autism in a very intimidating situation find just the thinest slice of hope to fit in, and experience the priceless feeling of being included.

It might be custodial staff, arriving before classes start and staying for hours after the ringing of the last bell, to make sure classrooms, gymnasiums and lunch rooms are clean, and ready for the next day.

Ken Valgardson is a retired teacher with 36 years under his belt and, most notably, an Excellence in Teaching award.

“Teachers need the school to do the distance learning so if we don’t have it clean and maintained it wont be safe to educate our youth in these tough times. That one autistic child that smiles and only communicates with that special person in the classroom has nobody,” Valgardson said Saturday evening.

“Minister LaGrange is going to take this away from students.”

It is most disturbing, really, the provincial government is taking things away from Albertans when we need it the most.

Minister LaGrange: it’s about time you did your homework.

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CTV EDMONTON

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Latest News
WHAT SHOULD I NAME MY NEW PONYTAIL???
PLEASE PICK ONE TO HELP ME BEFORE SUNDAY AT 4 P.M.
I AM SO PROUD TO CALL THIS GENTLEMAN A FRIEND – Mr. Jamie Campbell
THE THURSDAY EVENING TAIT, CAM: Comfort food
A LITTLE TO CLOSE TO HOME
TODAY’S TAIT TOPC
MY 8 MINUTES OF COMEDY — WITH MY WEDDING NIGHT SECRET
3 P.M. – WORRY FROM Washington State
(MONDAY – 4:15 P.M.) W.H.L. ON PLAYOFFS
12 NOON – PLEASE: STAY HOME