Election candidates in in the ridings which overlap with the Parkland School Division (Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, Lac Ste Anne-Parkland, and Devon-Drayton Valley) were invited to answer some questions about issues in education. You will find the answers of those who responded below.
Italicized candidates did not respond to our request for an interview or declined to participate.
Spruce Grove/Stony Plain Riding:
Erin Babcock - New Democratic Party
Ivan Boles - Alberta Party
Jody Crocker - Alberta Independence Party
Searle Turton - United Conservative Party
Lac St. Anne/Parkland Riding:
Oneil Carlier - New Democratic Party
Darrien Masse - Alberta Advantage Party
Don McCargar - Alberta Party
Gordon McMillan - Alberta Independence Party
Shane Getson - United Conservative Party
1. Who are you? Why are you running to be our MLA?
Erin Babcock (NDP): I am Erin Babcock, and I’m proud to be running on Rachel Notley’s team and to be part of a government that protected public health care and education. I have worked in health care in Saskatchewan and Alberta since 2006, assisting individuals with mental and physical disabilities. As a health care professional with 10 years experience, I know how important it is for all Albertans to have access to affordable, high quality healthcare. I relocated to Edmonton to further my education at NorQuest College and worked as part of a team assisting stroke patients and acute geriatric patients. We’ve heard from those who want to cut services and fire thousands of teachers and nurses. I’m running to ensure that doesn’t happen, and because there’s more work to do to make sure the economic recovery is felt by all Alberta families.
Darien Masse (AA): My name is Darien Masse I am a 58-year old businessman who resides in the Nakamun area. Pure frustration with the present government on the lack of fiscal mismanagement for all Albertans took a hold of me. Felt that I had to do something and get involved. This party has the only platform that I felt I could support and now my message is to let you know this party WILL and can help all Albertans. I am a father and grandfather. I have one daughter and four grandchildren.Their future is important to me and is one of the reasons I decided to make a commitment to our community and step up to run as a candidate in whatsome have described as the most important and critical election in Alberta's history.This election gives each and every one of us an opportunity to make a difference in this critical point in Alberta's history. My track-record assures that if elected, the counties of Lac Ste. Anne and Parkland will be well-represented.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): My name is Gordon McMillan and I am running for MLA in Lac Ste Anne/Parkland. I have lived in Sangudo pretty much my whole life, raising a family and operating my own business. I had served on village council for 3 terms before we went back to hamlet status. I also served on fire department for 13 years.
Oneil Carlier (NDP):
2. Funding Some Albertans are calling for fiscal prudence inlight of low government revenue. At what level would your government fund education? Would your party fund for enrolment?
Erin Babcock (NDP): We have 15,000 new students entering our schools this fall and they deserve teachers and good schools to prepare them for the future. I’m proud that over the past four years our government announced two new schools, two school modernization projects and one school replacement for Spruce Grove-Stony Plain, and I’ll continue advocating to ensure our community has the modern, inclusive learning environment our students deserve, but I know there’s more we can do. That’s why in her platform, Rachel Notley has committed to funding enrolment.
Darien Masse (AA): Our stand under such fiscal pressure is not to make decisions in a haste until we can assess where the money is best placed and utilized. Funding is not taken lightly. It is important it goes to where it is needed and trim where it is not. This is our kids education and is a HIGH priority.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): With a majority government and a referendum with 50% plus 1 vote we would proceed with secession from Canada which would hugely increase Alberta’s finances. There would be no cuts to services, funding would follow the child and no education fees.
3. Curriculum review: The revised grades K-4 curriculum are moving into the field testing stage, with work continuing on reviewing the curriculum at all levels. What would your party do with this new curriculum? Should the review continue in its current form?
Erin Babcock (NDP): I support the continuation of the curriculum review that Rachel Notley’s government began. When it comes to education, every government’s priority to should be ensuring we give our kids the best education possible.That’s why, since 2015, Rachel and our team have fought to ensure our kids have had good classrooms to learn in and teachers to support them.That’s also why we began a common-sense, long-overdue modernization of the curriculum – replacing decades-old content, some of which predates the internet.Alberta students will learn more about the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, and the legacy of residential schools, and that in addition to developing an Arabic language program, work is underway to create new provincial Filipino, Punjabi, Somali and Cantonese courses.This will help ensure sure our kids learn today’s basics and have the problem-solving skills they need to be successful in today’s fast changing world. Pausing or cancelling the curriculum review would be a disservice to our province’s younger generations who deserve to be prepared for Alberta’s future.
Darien Masse (AA): We would make sure it is current with the times and assure it will provide our kids with the right education to move forward in these new times. It would be foolish of us to think the same curriculum from another era would work in today’s times. Much has changed and so must the approach on education. A joint review involving the educators themselves and parents to get the opinions of those that will know.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): At this point continue with the review, adding a mandatory course I financial planning/mortgaging/loans.
4. Class sizes: Class sizes in Alberta have increased over the past decade. How would your party deal with this issue?
Erin Babcock (NDP): With 15,000 students entering our education system this fall, the best way to solve class sizes is to hire teachers and invest in our schools. That’s why, in addition to fully funding enrolment, our platform commits to increasing the classroom improvement fund to $100 million, and building or modernizing 70 schools across the province.
Darien Masse (AA): It seems we have under utilized schools, while others are over utilized.Some in depth research on how we can solve this is needed. Distributing the kids via more busing to under utilized schools is and option and definitely more schools. This was poor planning and budgeting by the present government. They simply have dropped the ball on this one and has not kept up to what the communities are needing in relation to our community growth.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): With funding following child the funds would be in place to decrease class sizes or to add teachers aids.
5. LGBTQ+: How should the education system support LGBTQ+ students? Does your party believe that parents should be notified if a student joins a GSA?
Erin Babcock (NDP): I am so proud to have been part of the government that passed this critical legislation to protect vulnerable LGBTQ kids. Removing protections for kids starting or joining gay-straight alliances at school and allowing teachers to out students, as others are proposing, would put kids at risk. Repealing or replacing Bill 24 is backward, and dangerous. Parents should not be notified if a student joins a GSA.
Darien Masse (AA): I stand strong that the parents should always know what’s going on with their child. And it is the discretion of the teacher or school to decide if it warrants contacting the parents. NO secrecy, it is not the schools responsibility to parent. The parents can decide how to handle their child in whatever situation. Open communication must be kept between school & parents.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): Our oath of rights and freedoms is (We accept all Rights and Freedoms at no expense, threat or harm to anyone else’s rights and freedoms). We feel safe spaces for all would be a step in right direction. Parental rights should only be bypassed if the oath is broken.
6. School safety re. Student aggression: Teachers are experiencing increasingly complex classrooms and are reporting concerning levels of violence and student aggression. What should we do to ensure that schools are safe for students and staff?
Erin Babcock (NDP): One of the highest priorities of our education system is ensuring all students and staff learn and teach in a safe environment. We know that we need to find a safe space for students that are struggling, and if re-elected our government will continue working with administrators and educators to ensure we get this right.The intended use of seclusion or isolation was only ever to be used as a last resort in crisis or emergency situations—not to punish or humiliate students. It was clear change was needed. That’s why we banned them. We’ll continue working together and listening in the period before the seclusion room ban comes into place to ensure staff are supported to be safe.
Darien Masse (AA): It comes down to one thing. ACCOUNTABILITY! The only reason there is this problem is because it was not dealt with in the past and now the aggression levels are out of control. Teachers and the students that take their education serious DO NOT deserve to be abused by the aggressive and bully students. The parents and the students must be accountable! It will be something we would look at closely to get back under control. Bullying and teacher abuse IS NOT acceptable.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): Again the oath on this matter. My opinion is no one should be in fear of violence. Laws need to be put in place for these situations.
7. Standardized testing: What role do you see for standardized testing within the education system, and do you believe there should be more or less emphasis on it?
Erin Babcock (NDP): Standardized testing can play an important role in preparing our children for success. But we also believe that these tests should complement, not replace, teacher evaluation in the classroom. That’s why we continue to track student performance through rigorous diploma and provincial achievement tests.
Darien Masse (AA): We believe this is an important role to gauge and compare how our students are doing in comparison to other education systems and their present progress. We want to make sure we are up to standard to the rest of Canada. Accessing and research will determine a bigger or less emphasis should be placed on it. Our kids future should not be short changed and would be our responsibility as a government to make sure they are getting a first class education.
Gordon McMillan (AIP): Standardized testing gives an even field across the the province and country as to the level of education so I am in favour of it.
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