THE BLOG

Is the Calgary Board of Education About to Widen Inequity Amongst Students?

11/01/2012 12:37 EDT | Updated 12/31/2012 05:12 EST

In my third and final post on the topic of Calgary Board of Education classroom sponsorship, I will remind readers of my first post that The Calgary Board of Education has recently opened the door to the naming of classrooms to corporate sponsorship. In the recently amended CBE policies AR 7009 and AR 8000 it is stated "The CBE also acknowledges the importance of naming physical spaces and educational programs in recognition of contributions made to the CBE by donors and sponsors."

Currently and for many years, the board and Alberta Government encourages school parent fundraising societies to fund-raise for "extras" for the school to enhance the learning tools for your children. As a proud former chair of three years at Belfast Elementary I can tell you first hand of the extras we received, raising approx $15,000 per year on cookie dough, coupon books and pizzas and another $50,000-75,000 every 18 months through a Casino volunteer program offered through Alberta Gaming. I was, and still am, very proud of our group of parents who stepped forward and worked hard and creatively as a team to make all this happen. New digital camera's, laptops and Smart Boards among others were the result of our efforts. We also funded an artist in residence program with these funds, which was, and still is, a fantastic program to enhance learning through the Arts at Belfast's Arts Centred Learning ethos. All children should have this opportunity.

I was a fantastic rah rah atmosphere in my mind until I walked into another elementary school to speak with them about our soccer association. It was there at Sir Wilfred Laurier School in 2007, where I learned about the inequity in our great education system in Alberta. It was explained to me that this school had a high population of English as a Second Language learners, who were not only of little means, coming to a new country, but also were unable to even form a parent council. No fundraisers and no casinos means no new cameras, Smart Boards or artists-in-residence here. Not long after that, I was invited to a sports day through the same soccer club at Crossing Park school which, at the time, was brand new. A beautiful new gym is where I stood and heard about the state of the art robotics lab. I am not sure who paid for that, but my son has never had a robotics lab in his school.

So currently we have a vast inequity in our Alberta public education system, which is likely to grow as programs like the sports school and other new innovative projects get corporate sponsorship dollars while community schools filled with new Canadians are afforded the simple bare bones basics. Do you think it might be likely that a more affluent neighborhood is likely to have a President, Vice President or CEO of a corporation on their parent council that might be interested in a classroom sponsorship? It is certainly unlikely that Sir Wilfred Laurier will have that advocate to help their school.