Re. “Are there ways we can control the cost of food?” Keith Gerein, April 16
Absent from Mr. Gerein’s commentary is the one obvious method to reduce food costs — end the ever-increasing Trudeau carbon tax. Making the propane in the farmers’ grain dryer more costly; increasing the cost of the diesel in the tractors; increasing the cost to truck the fertilizer to the farm; increasing the cost to truck the food to the processing facilities and then to the stores; increasing the cost to heat the warehouses and stores so the food doesn’t freeze.
Somebody has to pay for those extra costs, and that someone is the consumer.
Ron Nichol, Sherwood Park
New curriculum hardly an achievement
At Jason Kenney’s private speech to roughly 100 hand-picked sycophants in Red Deer, the camera angles and lighting were rigged to create the impression of a huge crowd of gleeful supporters. This perfectly illustrates the hallmarks of Kenney’s modus operandi: illusion, manipulation and deception. Throughout his tenure, Kenney has distorted truth and reality to further his political agenda.
After all, who else but Kenney would proclaim the new K-6 curriculum, condemned by educators and rejected by 95 per cent of Alberta’s school boards, is really a UCP “achievement?”
D.P. Dufresne, Edmonton
Does participatory budgeting need study?
News item on councillors Andrew Knack and Keren Tang who will take constituent suggestions on spending unused portions of councillor staffing budgets (excess from a $200,000 pot) is small beer and old hat.
The city of Porto Alegre in Brazil first did this from 1989 and the practice has apparently spread to somewhere around 100 other cities in Brazil. Check the heading “participatory budgeting” in Wikipedia for a summary of how the process works. It seems that city’s government lost interest in the process and eventually suspended it in 2017.
Perhaps the excess funds from the Knack and Tang staffing budgets could be redirected to the city manager to use in investigating and reporting back to council on this idea?
Allen Boychuk, Edmonton
Why not mail-in voting in the first place?
It’s interesting to note that the UCP has had a democracy epiphany. Last fall, when they were organizing their leadership review, they determined that an in-person vote would be the best way to conduct their review. In late March, they changed the rules and said that the best way to conduct the review would be by mail-in ballot. In support of this change, Government House Leader Jason Nixon said that this decision was “erring on the side of democracy.” This has become the theme of many political talking points during the past few weeks, as Jason Kenney and his loyalists work to convince the UCP members that this change in procedure is good for democracy.
However, if this change is so good for democracy, it leaves me wondering why the UCP didn’t choose to err on the side of democracy when they started planning their leadership review last fall.
Bill Godfrey, Edmonton
Tax dollars should go to public education
Re. “Free choice in schooling a recognition of rights,” Opinion, April 16
The article written by Jacqueline Leighton had many wonderful statements about parental voices for their children’s education which I do not disagree with at all. Where I do come to a parting of the ways is where our premier has decided to invest thousands of dollars in charter and private schools for parents so their children can attend these elite schools.
If these schools are so wonderful for children to attend, then let’s make all of these schools financially available to all Alberta’s children to attend so they all get the benefit of these great and valuable teachers and schools. Let’s put all Alberta’s tax dollars into all private and charter schools so all Alberta’s children get the same benefits. No? I thought not.
Parents of these elite schools are trying to separate their children from public children for whatever reason — individual learning, an elitist culture, a one-upmanship mentality, better hours for sportsmanship, even, heaven forbid, possibly racism. Whatever the reason, usually the parents have the means to pay for the education for their children. These schools should not be built and paid for by Albertans’ tax dollars; those funds need to be going into public schools where Kenney is already clawing back funds in so many directions.
Sharon Flemming, Edmonton
New curriculum raises unanswered questions
Re. “Hey, Alberta politicians, leave those kids alone!” David Staples, April 15
Staples plays a questions game. Let’s pose some more: Why do serious flaws remain unaddressed in the final curriculum?
If public feedback was integrated as claimed, it should show, yet almost nothing was added. The language arts curriculum continues to neglect writing development, oral language, 21st century literacies, and critical thinking. Why are gains from supplemental tutoring and extra resources being attributed to the new curriculum?
Ft. Vermilion kids got supplemental targeted programming to address COVID learning gaps. Attributing gains from that to the new curriculum is disingenuous. Did reported gains in Ft. Vermilion include reading comprehension?
Many K-3 assessments pushed by Alberta Education test neither oral reading of stories nor reading comprehension, in keeping with a new curriculum that minimally addresses thinking skills. Decoding matters, but kids aren’t good readers if all they do is bark words. Why did England decline in reading performance after adopting a phonics-heavy/meaning-poor curriculum much like Alberta’s new curriculum? Students there performed more poorly than Albertans in recent international tests. That can’t be what we want for our kids’ future.
Why is the UCP moving forward with curriculum that only five per cent of teachers say will benefit kids? I have no answers. Does Adriana LaGrange?
Maren Aukerman, Werklund research professor, University of Calgary
Column on curriculum ignored some facts
There are several ignored facts in David Staples’ article. As a primary school parent, I understand reading and math are important. However, contrary to what is implied, phonetics is a large part of the present curriculum. However, does the child understand what they are reading? Over the last two decades, class size average has increased 70-90 per cent and is a large part for decreased performance scores.
Finally, the “NDP” curriculum draft was started by the prior PC government, included K-4, and was over two years in the making before being released. It was going to take an additional two years to test, amend and initiate, unlike the present curriculum being forcibly instituted within a year.
C.L. Bright, Edmonton
Find other ways to pay for better snow removal
Re. “Snow removal budget may spur tax hike: city officials,” April 15
The snow removal budget article was suggesting a property tax increase of 2.4 per cent for snow removal. If this is the city’s first response to budget challenges we need new city leaders. I would hope they would investigate other budget savings (i.e. special interest groups’ funding or pet projects like the proposed study on systemic racism) or snow removal efficiencies prior to tax increases.
It’s time our city’s leaders refocus on their priorities. On an aside, snow clearing was stopped during our coldest days, at a time when this was needed the most.
Tony Nutting, Edmonton
Hospital experience a positive one
In the Edmonton Journal on April 15 was a letter to the editor criticizing the Alberta health-care system. I write to disagree. Recently, I spent three weeks in the University of Alberta Hospital, very ill, including needing surgery. My positive experience contrasts with that letter writer.
I was very impressed with the hospital system and staff experience. In addition to the medical team, the regular staffers were most helpful and courteous 24 hours per day. They were available when needed, and pleasant to deal with. Some patients were not. I was even pleased with the hospital food, and the system of choices made available in advance. Let’s give these folks a break!
Allan A. Warrack, Edmonton
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