Patrick O’Connor thinks it’s high time for some new blood on Red Deer’s public school board.
While he means no disrespect to any incumbent candidates, O’Connor has noticed that a couple of them have been serving on the board since he was in school, himself.
As a parent, he finds it strange to have a school board made up solely of trustees who no longer have school-age kids. “I believe it’s unbalanced … it makes it difficult to make decisions for children if you don’t have any skin in the game.”
The Red Deer-born-and-raised truck driver is married and has two children — in kindergarten and Grade 2.
His son previously attended pre-school classes at Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre. At the same time, O’Connor learned from the centre how to help his child, who’s on the autism spectrum.
It was such a beneficial experience for both him and his son that O’Connor wonders how many other children in the community would benefit from having better access to some form of pre-kindergarten classes?
He noted U.S. study results showed kids who attended pre-kindergarten at ages three and four had a significantly higher rates of high school graduation. “It’s quite astonishing … A teacher friend of mine is taking a course and discovering that brain development at that age is quite substantial,” said O’Connor, who’d like to explore the costs/benefits of starting more pre-kindergarten classes.
If elected to the school board, O’Connor would also like to look into the value of standardized testing and whether it’s a true measure of students’ abilities or if teachers “teach the test” at the expense of other valuable classroom lessons.
“I’d like to find out the value, weigh the costs, and see where it works and where it doesn’t.”
O’Connor also wants to take a look at lunch programs, and other offerings, to ensure schools in north Red Deer are on equal footing with schools on the south side of the city.