I was pleased to read that Edmonton Public School Trustee Sue Huff is interested in joining the Board of the Alberta Party. Ms. Huff has been a strong voice on the School Board and the Alberta Party will be lucky to have her on their board. At first glance it may seem like something small, but the title of a short news story about Ms. Huff’s blog post reminded me of a larger issue facing our elected trustees:
Having stood in a competitive election and unseated an incumbent, Ms. Huff’s “turn to politics” is obviously something completely foreign (see: sarcasm). While I do not think the next thought applies to the aforementioned Trustee, the title of hints towards one of the largest challenges facing elected institutions in Alberta. Not only do many elected trustees appear to see their roles as administrators or officials rather than politicians, but that much of the media also sees it this way.
The October school board elections present a critical opportunity for elected school boards to prove that they are more than just glorified administrators. Trustees have a responsibility to provide leadership on the board and the connections between the educational institutions and their communities, something that they have not excelled at in the recent past. Trustees need to become relevant to their communities beyond those traditionally interested in education issues (ie: parents, teachers, and students).
Until then I have a difficult time believing that most Albertans would notice much of a difference if elected Trustees were replaced by provincially-appointed boards or civil servants from the Department of Educations.