No announcement yet.

Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Candidate for Ward C - Christopher Spencer

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Edmonton Public School Board Trustee Candidate for Ward C - Christopher Spencer

    Old Green Grovenor is going into politics.

    I’m running for public school board trustee in Ward C, which includes most of west-central Edmonton. Elections for this office typically receive little media coverage and often voters won’t complete the education part of the ballot.

    Those who do vote sometimes make their selection based on name recognition, not policy. For example, the candidate with the alphabetical order advantage, thus being listed first among the nominees, is about 20 per cent more likely to win.

    Therefore I’m changing my name from Christopher Spencer to Christopher AAA Pizza and Steakhouse. Well, not really. But I hope voters (and reporters) will be extra attentive. This school board election really matters to the future of Edmonton – indeed, we’ve never had a more significant campaign at the trustee level.

    Here are five reasons why making an informed choice for trustee is as important, and perhaps more so, than selecting the best mayor or councillor:

    1. As noted by Edmonton-based education philosopher Stephen Murgatroyd, communities around the world are facing a series of “wicked” problems – economic dislocation, increasing health care costs, incredible technological change and the threat of environmental catastrophe. To respond we need an educational system that is more adaptive than our factory model of learning, which was created to serve the assembly lines of industrialization. In Alberta, about 30 per cent of high school students won’t graduate, which is a comment on the worth and inflexibility of the current system. An education more relevant to the 21st century would focus on teaching strategies to solve complex problems, but instead of critical thinking, we are emphasizing knowledge accumulation in our schools. The question should be “How?” not “What?”

    2. Part of the purpose of schooling is to create connections, so children recognize that they are part of a city, province, country and planet. Yet we’ve allowed our schools to become isolated, set apart from the communities they were intended to serve, like grain silos on a distant field. Seven of nine trustees elected in 2007 recently told the Journal they make decisions for the Edmonton Public School Board as if it were an independent corporation. That’s not how institutions that we own together as taxpayers are supposed to work. Public education should exist for the benefit of children, families and all members of society, not corporate self-interest.

    3. One of the problems with insular thinking is that we miss opportunities (and efficiencies) that arise through partnerships. Developing the full potential of every child requires collaboration with providers of other services, such as early education societies, not-for-profit agencies and daycare operators. In the current sector reviews, the EPSB insists classrooms used for preschool and out-of-school care are empty. Such a narrow approach does not serve learning or the interests of families and the community.

    4. More than 70 schools are under review for possible closure. Most research shows that bigger schools are not better schools. Cost savings from closing buildings are meagre and take years to accumulate. City Council, by countenancing sprawl, has created significant problems for the EPSB. Uncoordinated planning always seems to end in disaster. However, now that councillors seem genuinely keen to increase density within established neighbourhoods, trustees don’t want to collaborate. Voters who support urban renewal, or who simply don’t want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing sprawl through the construction of new schools, should seek out candidates willing to work with other levels of government to ensure more children grow up close to existing infrastructure.

    5. I really am “old” Green Grovenor in this election. Many of the best candidates in other wards are younger than me, and I’m still on the sunny side of 40. In the past, trustees have tended to be retired educators. They have been content to look to administrators for leadership – indeed the current board has never turned down an administrative recommendation. On Oct. 18th, voters will have an opportunity to pursue change highlighted by a promise of generative governance. Here’s how Dr. Murgatroyd explains the movement: “What this new generation of school trustee candidates stands for is a return to democracy. Shocking isn’t it.”

    I hope C2E members will be active in this election. Ask questions. Volunteer with a campaign. Make an informed choice on Oct. 18th. The kind of education system Edmonton will have – and the kind of city Edmonton will be – is what you’ll be determining when you mark your ballot.

    And if you live in west-central Edmonton, please consider voting for me, Christopher AAA Pizza and Steakhouse, a.k.a. Green Grovenor, a.k.a. Christopher Spencer. I’ve launched a website at and I’ll be blogging throughout the campaign.

    -- Christopher Spencer
    Last edited by NoreneS; 17-10-2010, 09:01 PM.