Friday, 28 March 2014

Going to get ugly...

Everyone's heard that you shouldn't corner a wild animal and how dangerous it is to do so.  I'm thinking that might be the same for political parties as well. As I sit back and feel the winds of change blow through AB for the first time in 40+ years I can't help but think that things will get ugly next election.
 We had a taste of it last election with the PC's fearmongering tactics. As those winds of change blow in and the PCs feel their empire crashing down around them  I don't think it's a stretch to think we will see it again.  Like a cornered animal they are going to lash out in ugly ways. How many lies will we hear? How many slanderous comments will be thrown out?  How desperate will they get to hold on to the power and to stay on the gravy train they've created?
 Mark my words... It's going to get ugly.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


I would just like to take a moment to reflect on the past week in Alberta politics.  With the resignation of Alison Redford I think we seen a fundamental shift in Alberta politics. The PCAA, a party that's been in power for over 40 years has clearly lost its way. Infighting and the power struggle that it has caused is clearly shown that they are no longer putting the needs of Albertans first. We live in one of the greatest provinces in Canada, it's hard to believe that we should see the kind of government that we have right now. I can't help but think that we can do better than what were doing. It's time that we sit back as citizens and analyze what we as people of this great province want.
 Here we have a leader that steps down after scandal after scandal, broken promise after broken promise. Yet for someone who campaigned on transparency and accountability she claimed none for herself.  In her announcement she took none of the blame, claimed no responsibility, only pushed forward more false facts and deflect blame on others. She did do the right thing in resigning, with her at the helm the distraction that she caused with her poor choices was impairing the governing process.   Alison could have done better but she chose not to, she could have admitted fault but chose not to. She could have kept her election promises but chose not to. But to fair lets not put all the blame on her. The PC caucus is to blame too. Where were they when after the party campaigned on not incurring debt moved Alberta back into debt? Where were they when they campaigned on fiscal responsibility and living within our means and yet voted themselves a raise, wasted money on government jets and so on? Where were they when they claimed to standup for Albertans put then cut funding to education and PDD funding?  Dave Hancock, Doug Horner and all the other MLAs are guilty in this as well. Only after they realized that their jobs were at stake did some dare to speak for their constituents, a job they were hired for. They could have done better by speaking up for the people right from the start. 
 It's time for change, it's time for something different because what we have now isn't working, we can do better. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Education debate

I'm republishing an email with permission from Dr.Tran-Davies ( an Albertan Doctor and concerned parent)  in regards to the purposed curriculum changes in Alberta Education and a petition she started to reinstated traditional and basic teaching and learning practices back into the math curriculum. You can sense her frustration in dealing with our current PC government. I too know this frustration when dealing with the cuts to PDD funding and Educational cuts that they did after the budget just after the election ( of which, said cuts were never campaigned on). I thought I would share her story with you.

"Dear fellow petitioners,

Before I forget again, my email address is in case you have further thoughts and suggestions. Please continue to CC a copy of your MLA letters to myself, as Mr. Manegre is tabulating the letters.
If I may put a few things into perspective:
1. I've been told that each signature on this petition likely represents 10-15 individuals who are in agreement with us but haven't yet signed. So 11,000 signatures may actually represent over 100,000 people. And because of your efforts, the signatures continue to mount to show Johnson exactly how we feel about the "new math" curriculum.
2. Each signature may represent 2-3 children in the system, and so potentially, we are the voice of nearly 2-300,000 children.
3. There are nearly 11,200 signatures today. Alison Redford was elected in Calgary-Elbow with 11,181 votes and Johnson in Athabasca/Redwater with 7377 votes.
This past week has been tense.
On Mon, Mar 10th, the Globe and Mail published my blog:

And by Tuesday, Mar 11th, Johnson quickly jumped on the terms "partners in learning" and "self-directed learners", two descriptors I had used in my article, and called them "rubbish".

Of course those terms aren't "rubbish" at all, as they are in-line with the goals of discovery-based learning. But, as you can read in Staples' blog, it seems that with all the criticism of their redesign plans, the ministry may be back peddling a bit. You can compare Johnson's current comments to the ministry's previous statements of transforming the schools through the "Inspiring Education" vision. Even the fact sheets on the current Revised Math Program of studies state the following:
YESTERDAY's classroom - Teacher showing students how to solve questions and students copying steps from the board
TODAY's classroom - Students working together on genuine math tasks receiving guidance from the teacher WHEN NEEDED.
Also on Tues, Mar 11th, with the help of the passionate Wildrose Education advocate Bruce McAllister, we had a press conference with Dr. Troitsky (UofA mathematician), Jerry Manegre (retired school trustee), Jeanne Manegre (retired teacher), Dr. Marion Leithead (retired Education doctorate), Bill Leithead (retired engineer), Maurya Braun (environmental consultant), and Debra Hoover (parent representative) in attendance.
We then sat in on the Legislative Assembly's Question Period to "confront" Minister Johnson (from the balcony) with the request, through Bruce McAllister, to meet. Despite all of Johnson's grandiose talk about listening and being responsive, Johnson once again avoided committing to a personal meeting with myself and the team by stating that "WE have met three times". In fact our team has met with the ministry only twice, for less than an hour each, and neither time was Johnson present. It is, therefore, a clear misrepresentation of the situation, and as we realize now, the two times we had met with his staff (Greg Bass and Thomas Bradley) were mere public relation gestures, as Deputy Minister Greg Bass stated in his letter that they see no immediate need for change (despite the thousands of reports of harm to our children). Of course, Johnson got heckled in the House for uttering the blatant untruth.
On Mar 12th, Johnson felt the need to form solidarity with the teachers by sending out an important message to the association with the following statement:
"IN SPITE OF RECENT CRITICISM BY SOME, let me assure you that our Premier and government are incredibly proud of educators like you that have made our education system one of the best performing in the world. "
You know that from the very beginning we have not once criticized the teachers, only the curriculum.
Then on Thurs, Mar13th, Johnson emailed myself to tell me that he had "great concerns over your continued depiction of Alberta's Curriculum Redesign initiative....Let me be clear, Alberta is not moving to discovery-based learning." Instead, the redesign goal is for "Inquiry-based" learning, which he claims there is evidence for.
On Mar 14th, Staples quote Johnson saying he "doesn't know where that crap (regarding discovery learning model) came from."
The issue extends much deeper than just having our children memorize the times table, but he is not willing to sit down, to collaborate to find a solution. I just don't understand the reluctance to meet, to perhaps clear the air between the two sides. Though he states he is listening, I have little trust or faith in Johnson or the ministry right now. Johnson has yet to come forth as a leader.
We are truly feeling that we are exhausting many avenues, and a mass peaceful demonstration is becoming more of a reality. Let us tentatively aim for sometime during the week of Apr 14-17th. It is not something we take lightly because there is only one chance for us to get it right. One chance for us to show them that we stand united for our children's education.
Again, LIKE our Alberta Math Petition facebook page in case there are last minute developments or changes to our plans, since I can only email you once per week through
Thank you again for your tremendous help so far. I am grateful for your strength and passion in this matter.
Kindest regards,
Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies "