Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Interview with Ward 6 and 7 Calgary Public School Board Trustee Candidate Dr. George Lane

This is a continuation of a series of interviews that I will post about local candidates that are running in the 2010 Calgary municipal election. I do not endorse any of the candidates necessarily, unless stated otherwise. The intent is to allow the candidates a forum in which they can share some of their views as I feel that the school trustee candidates often do not get the same amount of attention from the mainstream media as the alderman and mayoral candidates.

This interview is with Dr. George Lane, who will be running for election as the Public School Trustee in Ward 6 & 7 this term.

Why are you running for the position of school board trustee?

I want to be re-elected to help ensure that the CBE retains its Mission, Vision, and Values; ‘grabs the inspiring future’; advances from a Good to a Great system and provides each student with a rich and diverse range of choices to prepare themselves to thrive in a rapidly changing and competitive world.

Can you share some of your past volunteer, political and/or Board of Directors experience?

PAST BOARDS - Developmental Disabilities Resources Centre, DDRFoundation, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, The Banff Centre, Banff School of Advanced Management, MS Society, U of C Senate, Management Education Coordinating Council of Alberta, Reform and Canadian Alliance Constituency Associations [Calgary Centre], U of C Emeritus Society

CURRENT BOARDS – Education Matters, imagineCALGARY, Calgary Board of Education

What is your future vision of the education system in Calgary?

To go from Good to Great !

“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”[Jim Collins]

Two major strengths of the CBE that can be the basis for development of a distinctive international reputation are technology, the game-changer of our age, and the high quality of our teaching cadre.

From Technology in the Classroom to Technology as the Classroom -

The CBE is well positioned to move in this direction given its pioneering work with CB e-learn and with the National Sports School which provides for student athletes to be ‘at school’ on their laptops from anywhere in the world.

The advantages of a school system moving toward a LEARNSHIFT model that transfers a significant portion [e.g. 20%-40%] of the work of learning in high schools out of the classroom setting and into the students' technological domain would include the following:

1] Increased Student Satisfaction 2] Increased School Completion Rates 3] Greater Flexibility and Community Engagement 4] Greater Productivity 5] Better Preparation for Post-High School Education, and 6] Infrastructure Cost Savings

Enhance the Status of the CBE Teaching Cadre - Most CBE parents appreciate that the CBE has good teachers who are competent and caring professionals. This is as it should be.  Yet it is not clear that Alberta society accords to our teachers the status one would expect given Alberta’s success in the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessments.

The CBE has increasingly high expectations of its teachers. It recruits widely across Canada and abroad to find the best it can. Most CBE teachers engage in life-long learning, and avail themselves of professional development opportunities. Citizens of Calgary should know, and prospective teachers should know, that the CBE is a preferred employer for those teachers wishing to join a collegial community of professional educators each of whom puts students first.

What do you think the future of School Boards are in Alberta. What changes would you make to the school board trustee model?

Change is in the air.

The most significant change in recent years in Canada is probably the merger of Catholic school boards with Public/Protestant boards in Quebec and in Newfoundland and Labrador. There is apparently a sizable lobby for doing something along these lines in Ontario. And I gather a small lobby in Alberta. While it may happen here eventually, I think it will be more of an evolutionary change. For example more flexibility for students to move back and forth from one system to the other.

A more likely change in the short run, I expect may be individuals being appointed as Trustees without being elected. This will be controversial. I expect it will end up in some sort of negotiated settlement between the Government and the ASBA.

If I had my druthers I would ensure that school board boundaries are contiguous with City boundaries at least for the major cities. I also believe that it is probably time to de-link the wards for Trustees from the wards for Aldermen. This would permit the formation of school board Wards that would be more congruent with five administrative areas of the CBE.

If you could implement one radical idea to improve the school system, what would it be?

There was a time when Alberta school boards could levy taxes. The advantage of this system was that it provided a direct link between taxpayers and their local school board. Trustees had to consider carefully their needs and defend their decisions. There was a check and a balance in this arrangement.

I believe our history shows that, while there were great debates the citizens were more involved, more influential in the process and got what they collectively were willing to pay for. In Calgary’s case the public decided in 1903 they wanted ‘the best schools and the best system’. That decision led to the building of Calgary’s great sandstone ‘Cathedrals of Learning’ many of which are still in use today.

In my view, I think it would be very desirable to decentralize some of the taxing power back to the school boards at least to the four Metro Boards in Calgary and Edmonton.

For more information on Dr. Lane, head over to his website at

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