Bill Stuebing is seeking his eighth term as a Red Deer public schools trustee to keep fighting for student equity.
All students do not begin from the same starting line – that’s one of the important lessons that Stuebing has learned from his seven terms on the school board, and his previous job as a Red Deer College Sociology instructor (he’s now retired).
Some youths struggle with learning disabilities. Others are demoralized by domestic and socio-economic problems. Students might suffer from mental or physical disabilities. They may be bullied, or have had their self-esteem stamped out of them by various forms of abuse, said Stuebing.
Public schools must effectively – fairly – serve all of these students, he stressed. “They all deserve to succeed to the best of their abilities.”
To strive for this goal, Stuebing feels it’s necessary for the public school board to provide enough classroom supports — even in difficult economic times.
Hiring enough teaching assistants, community liaison workers, counsellors and other supportive staff is vital, he added, because teachers are having to meet the needs of a growing diversity of students – and can’t do it short-handed.
“The problem, of course, is where are we going to get the money? …We’re always walking a tight rope.”
While there are broad disparities in young people’s abilities, backgrounds, personalities – even the way they identify through gender, Stuebing feels every last student should feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging within the school environment.
The district offers specialized programs, including English-as-a-second-language and First Nations, as well as gender-neutral bathrooms, anti-prejudice clubs and straight-gay alliances. Alberta Health Services also partially pay for mental health experts within schools.
Stuebing added, “I have learned this is a huge, complex, but very rewarding job. You can walk away at the end of the day and feel good about what you are doing.”