Monday, January 31, 2011

Parental bliss takes time to recognize

(From the Globe and Mail - good read!)

I had plenty of moments when I hated my life as a parent of young children. But I never blogged about it – no such thing then – never wrote a trendy book about the merits of martini play dates and didn’t need studies to tell me that parenting is a hard slog that makes you more depressed than non-parents.

The full article is here.

Couples fare better when dads do playtime, not caregiving: Study

From the website - an article of note for parents.

As always, your input and ideas are welcomed and encouraged. Hear of anything going on at school that parents might find interesting? Email it to the association using the links on the right hand side of this page, and let us know.

Stay warm!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Teacher talks called off

Alberta teachers have been told their contract will remain the way it is, with no salary freeze.

Education officials were in talks with the teachers union about forgoing a salary increase to save the province money.

But the president of the Alberta Teachers' Association, Carol Henderson, said Education Minister Dave Hancock told her Friday the proposal is dead and this year's 4.3 per cent salary increase will go ahead.

Read more here.

Calgary Islamic school draws 100-deep lineup

About a hundred parents waited in line outside the Calgary Islamic School on Friday morning for a chance to get their children enrolled.

The private school — which teaches kindergarten to Grade 11 — has room for about 20 new students next year, officials said.

But since it's the only school of its kind in Calgary, which has a Muslim population of about 60,000 people, parents line up outside in the cold for a chance to register every year, said principal Moussa Ouarou.

He added that the waiting list already has 300 names on it.

Read the whole article here.

Time for a change, but make it doable

Let children make their own resolutions, but steer them away from the impossible
By Katherine Dedyna, Postmedia News

Just about every parent is familiar with New Year's resolutions, but is there something they'd like their kids to improve?

The beginning of the year is "a great time" for families to discuss ways that every member of the family — even preschoolers — can think about positive change, says B.C. child-rearing expert Kathy Lynn.

Think of resolutions more like serious wishes or guideposts, but not promises, she suggests. "Promise is difficult, because kids really believe in promises." As in Disneyland. So if kids don't hold up their end — something mom and dad might know from their own experience — they shouldn't feel like failures.

Click here to read the full story.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ATA and Alberta Ed Consider Changes to Collective Bargaining

Our teachers are presently working under a collective agreement that is scheduled to end after the 2010/2011 school year. After that, bargaining will begin anew in all jurisdictions across the province.

In order to reduce the possible hurdles that an uncertain economy, cutbacks, and dynamic demographic will all present to amicable collective bargaining, Alberta Education and the ATA are considering large scale changes to the process. This link will give you some insight into the ATA's reasoning, and this link leads to some proposals from Alberta Education.

The impetus for all of this is the desire to avoid the disastrous turn of events in 2002 that led to a strike position and education disruptions province wide as 14000 education workers went on strike.

Do you think that teachers should have a right to strike? Or should they be considered an 'essential service' like the police or firefighters?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Young blood: Officials, parents grapple with guidelines for ‘Munchkin MMA’

(From the website)

Two young boys, covered head to toe in protective gear, bounce lightly on their feet, gloved hands up by their faces, ready to strike.

Within three seconds of the start of the match, they hit the mat, their bodies twisting into a human pretzel as one tries to gain leverage over the other.

One boy successfully mounts the other, who is lying on his back, and digs in with punches to the head. Right, left, right, left.

Moments later, the tide turns and the other boy is on top. Now, he launches into rapid-fire strikes to his opponent’s head. The referee stops the match and declares him the winner.

Click here to read the full story.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Meetings Last Night

Thank you to all for attending the meetings last night.

As a highlight, Principal Joanne Higgins talked a bit about Wilma Hansen School and their collective efforts at easing student's transition to junior high school. Of particular interest is the effort of the school to use expectations of responsibility as a tool for grade 7 governance. But to be honest, I am even more happy to hear that Mrs. Higgins goes to the 7-11 across the street every day at lunch to control loitering. This simple act underscores the level of apparent fostering that goes on at Wilma Hansen and should serve to ease some of the stress that 'transitioning' parents may feel.

We also reviewed the proposed resolutions that will be introduced at the ASCA AGM (for the acronym challenged: Alberta School Council Association Annual General Meeting). The AGM will be April 15-17, 2011 in Edmonton. Our council will be sending two representatives to carry our votes to the meeting and make our voices heard at the provincial level. If you are interested in becoming a rep, please send me an email and I'll let you know the expectations. The PA will cover your travel expenses. For more on the resolutions, stay tuned, I will post them shortly.

We had a review of the AISI (FTAC: Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) roles and responsibilities at Haultain as well. For more about that: follow the link, send me an email, or chat with Mr. Fero.

We also got a quick update on the LAWN (FTAC: Learner Accessible Wireless Network). Mr. Fero says the LAWN will be live shortly and that the policies are available for review here and here. If you have any questions or would like to see changes to either document, please let Mr. Fero or Mr. Barkley know and they will be happy to discuss it with you. You can email me too if you'd rather I talked to them.

We also voted to expanded our license for the BrainPop program. Currently the Division 2 classes have been enjoying the program and now the K-3 classes will have the same opportunity.

Our next meeting is March 17th - please plan on joining us.

Tiger Mom parenting and the quest for self-esteem

(... an excerpt from the 'Mother load' blog, written by Anna-Liza Kozma, on the CBC website - I've posted stories regarding this book, and some of the controversial reviews it's had, and I find it fascinating. I'm really interested to read a copy. Has anyone read it?)

No sooner had our plane touched down in Toronto than my BlackBerry began to flash tyrannically: "R we on for piano tonight?" "U missed acro-jazz - R u on 4 nxt wk?" "Atom hockey sched 4 this Sat!"

A rising panic jolted me back to Earth after an all-too-short vacation. The mad spin of kids' activities had already begun and we weren't even out of the airport.

This school year my children have suddenly become "joiners." And against my better judgment I have found myself ferrying them to crazed rounds of skiing, snowboarding, power skating, hockey, dance and horse riding.

Part of the panic came from having just read excerpts of Amy Chua's controversial new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, on the plane.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Canadian Children "Woefully" Inactive

An article on the CBC website today has quoted some very troubling stats base on recent research.
  • 8% of boys 6-10 years old are obese, 6% of girls
  • 10% of girls 15-19 years old are obese
  • 62% of our children's days are inactive
  • 7% or our kids are not active enough to realize health gains

This website, sponsored by the Childhood Obesity Foundation lists many ways for families to lead healthier lifestyles.

As an interesting segue; one of the proposed resolutions that will be considered at the ASCA AGM this year is a call to Alberta Education for required daily physical education and activity. This resolution among others, if accepted at the AGM, will be advocated by ASCA. We will be considering this resolution and others at the meeting Thursday evening. If you are interested in hearing more about them - we are meeting in the library at 6:30, hope to see you there.

Calgary school board rejects call for review of new headquarter costs

By Deb Tetley and Matt McClure, Calgary Herald

CALGARY - A newly elected trustee's call for an independent review of the Calgary Board of Education's lease and construction costs for its new headquarters was batted down by the board Tuesday night.

Sheila Taylor, the rookie representative for Wards 11 and 13, wanted a probe of the confidential agreements with developer Bentall LP and builder Ellis-Don, citing the public's right to "transparency."

"This is not about pointing fingers," Taylor said during debate. "This is about the right way to do business."

Read the full story here.

All-boys elementary school proposed for Calgary

From the CBC website

All-boys elementary schools are again under consideration in Calgary.

Calgarian Karen Wesley and her partner have submitted a proposal to Alberta Education to set up an all-boys charter elementary school.

She said it would allow teachers to cater to boys' interests and specific learning styles.

"I believe that our society is beginning to recognize that there is a need for boys to have a different educational experience to girls," said Wesley, currently an educator at the Foundations for the Future Charter Academy campus in southeast Calgary.

Read more here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Special Guest at Next Council Meeting

Please join us for our next Council and PA meetings on this Thursday January 20th at 6:30 in the Haultain Library.

We will be joined by Mrs. Joanne Higgins, principal at Wilma Hansen School. Wilma Hansen is the assigned Junior High for Haultain. Parents of our grade six students in particular may want to take the opportunity to come and listen to Mrs. Higgins speak about the transition from grade 6 to grade 7, a big step in our kids educational careers.

I will email and post the agenda for the meetings tomorrow - hope to see you on Thursday.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

System Parent Meeting - January 12, 2011

I recently attended the system parent meeting as Key Communicator. After welcoming remarks, the board introduced themselves and each gave a very brief presentation identifying roles, goals and agendas for the coming years at the Calgary Board of Education. Because there was so much information in such a short time, below is a brief outline of some of those topics and links that can lead you to more specific information. The presentations were interesting but even more so were the parent responses and would love to see a dialoug of that nature happen at Haultain. Please post your opinions, ideas or suggestions here on our blog. I recommend reading the Inspiring Education initiative at their website: under 'documents' click on the steering committee report. This meeting was also presented in a webinar format and everyone is encouraged to sign on and join in!

-Our Ends program and the new Education Act
-Programs of Choice for CBE families- includes the diversity of programs at the CBE.
-You can view the boards operating budget here.
-Alberta Educations Class Size Initiative
-Infrastructure - includes anticipated new school openings, closing, maintenance and development.

After these presentations, ward trustees met individually with their ward parents. Carol Bazinet answered questions to and was asked about the present usage of Queensland Downs School. Her answer was that it was in surplus at the CBE and no there are no plans at this time. Ms. Bazinet expressed interest in attending a Parent Council meeting and encouraged all to contact her anytime at 294-8241 or

I look forward to the next meeting and reading your thoughts and questions.
Shona Foster
Co-Key communitcator

How to raise a No. 1 child - The Globe and Mail

From The Globe and Mail: How to raise a No. 1 child -

(... More on the article...)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sheldon Kennedy's anti-bullying hockey program picked up by school division

By Sarah Mcginnis, Calgary Herald

The team behind an online respect in sport program now mandatory for Calgary hockey parents has joined forces with a southern Alberta school district to create a similar abuse and bullying prevention program for all school staff and volunteers.

Foothills School Division, which operates schools south of Calgary, announced Thursday it has recently begun offering a new, 2.5-hour web course for all its employees.

Former NHL player and child victim Sheldon Kennedy co-founded Respect Group Inc., which developed both the respect in sport and respect in school programs.

Click here for the full story.

Skeptical trustee wants probe into CBE's lease of new headquarters

By Matt McClure, Calgary Herald

A newly elected trustee with the Calgary Board of Education wants an independent review of the board's $285-million lease for its new headquarters because of concerns the confidential deal was neither properly approved nor a wise expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

As 500-plus employees prepare to move into the 8th Street building next month, Sheila Taylor - the rookie representative for Wards 11 and 13 - says she wants to know why the deal with Bentall LP was inked by board officials in late 2006, but not approved by trustees until early 2008.

"I think we need a third party to tell us if what was done was acceptable," Taylor said.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alberta launches program to help foster children do better in school

Brings together teachers, foster parents and caseworkers

By Karen Kleiss,

The Alberta government has launched a new program to help children in care do better in school.

The plan will for the first time bring together teachers, foster parents and caseworkers to focus on the educational needs of each child.

“Children and youth in care are at significant risk of poor educational outcomes compared to the general school population,” says the new provincial protocol framework, which was tabled during the fall sitting of the legislature.

Read more here.

Rate your teacher!

Here's a neat link - a great place to show how much you appreciate your child's teacher. (I couldn't find the Haultain link, but Wilma Hansen is on there - go on, regardless, and check it out!)

Another parenting point of view...

Click here to read a fascinating article on parenting techniques in the far East versus the Western methods we're all accustomed to. What's your take?

Friday, January 7, 2011

January's Key Communique

Want to nominate an outstanding teacher or principal for an Excellence in Teaching award?

Wondering when Kindergarten registration begins?

Looking for information on recent changes to special education?

There's a lot to read on each topic in Karen Drummond's Key Communique email - viewable here. I've converted her email into a .pdf file - and uploaded it to this link for viewing. (The images didn't want to work, but the rest of the file is viewable, and the links work.)

As always, we'd like your thoughts and opinions on what we post on this blog - any and all comments are welcome and encouraged. Please feel free to send stories and pictures that you think other Haultain parents would benefit from - simply email them to the council (see link at the right hand side of this page) and we'll post them for you.

Haultain's Parent Council/Association wishes all parents a happy 2011!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Parents fear closure of Mayland Heights school

Mayland Heights group seeks 'fair shot'
By Sean Myers, Calgary Herald

Mayland Heights Elementary parents are worried a proposal to cut the school's regular English program could be a precursor to closing the facility altogether.

The Calgary Board of Education is holding an open house today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for parents to offer feedback before trustees consider whether to move ahead with the process of closing the regular program.

"I'm opposed to it, absolutely," said Pam Halla, chairwoman of the school's parent council.

"We honestly believe that in another two to three years, Mayland Heights will be closed."

As of Sept. 30, 446 students were enrolled at Mayland Heights, 52 of which are in the regular program, said Halla. The rest are enrolled in French immersion.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CBE 'disappointed' with proposed revamp of Education Act

Sarah Mcginnis, Calgary Herald

Alberta's largest school board is taking aim at the government's proposal for a new Education Act, charging the legislative framework doesn't reflect a series of public consultations which it was supposed to be based on.

The Calgary Board of Education is warning Education Minister Dave Hancock of its "disappointment" with the new law - especially over its mention of appointed trustees.

"If the proposed framework moved forward as is, the new Act will not serve us well into the future and in our efforts to transform public education," CBE board chair Pat Cochrane said in a draft letter to Hancock which was to be discussed at Tuesday's school board meeting before being sent.

Read more here.