Monday, November 24, 2014

Quite possibly the most significant bi-election in Alberta history and nobody is even aware it's going on............

    The Edmonton Public School Board held a bi-election that is a first in Alberta. This publically elected board is taking constituent concerns to heart and held a bi-election  to elect a student to an equal seat at the board table.
In an era where political leaders do everything in their power to limit their transparency to the public, this board has taken the bold step of providing an equal say in board affairs to their greatest constituency: Students.
Rather than the traditional "your elders know best" approach to leadership, the EPSB passed a motion to allow students in high school to elect one of their own to sit at the board table and have the title; Trustee.
Such was the interest among Edmonton  high school students that 15 young people put their names forward vying for the chance to be the Trustee. This, for a position that adults often use as a gateway to greater political aspirations (Janice Sarich,  Bev Esslinger, Theresa Woopah, Danielle Smith, Kyle Fawcett, Maureen Kubernik) and are often elected or acclaimed in very quiet races as part of virtually silent municipal elections.
Why there isn't more noise about a student becoming a trustee is a mystery to me. If it were not a slow news day it might get some coverage, but I understand that   the possibility of Jim Prentice raising taxes or Ian Donovan and Kerri Towle not being able to tell right from right, takes precedence over an item like this.
I enjoy the potential implications:  the EPSB trustees have agreed, as a group, to water down their influence by allowing one more member on their board and that member will actually be someone directly impacted by every decision being made.
It's as imaginative as if the City of Edmonton appointing a homeless person to the homelessness commission, instead of just people who live in St. Albert, or the provincial government inviting the Pembina Institute  participate in environmental hearings without the Pembina Institute having to go to court.
It is a ground breaking step in transparency and  as moral and good as it is, it will at best considered a novelty, both in action and meaning by the majority of people and senior levels of government.
This decision by the EPSB is not the sort of thing we often get from our elected leaders, we get too many platitudes, prepared talking points, meaningless puff ball questions or other legislative boondoggles to  ever really see anything new or brave.
School board trustees, particularly since they aren't funders of the general social good, seldom get much recognition and are almost never introduced at fundraiser breakfasts yet somehow, despite this lack of attention and ego massage so common to City councillors or MLA's they managed to make a genuinely brilliant move that deserves far more accolades than a photo  of an MLA giving a giant cardboard cheque to a worthy cause.

There is a big difference between doing things the right way  and doing the right things: this is the best example I have seen in some time of a group of elected officials doing the right thing.

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