Want a parent on the school board? Vote.

As soon as my toddler wakes up from his nap I will walk over to the elementary school and cast my vote not only for Red Deer city council, but also for the board of public school trustees. That second set of votes is as important to me as the first because three years from now, my son will be walking into an elementary school as a kindergarten student (and hopefully stay there for a lot longer than it will take me to vote today).

My husband says I’ve obsessed with the school board race and that no one else cares — but I hope he’s wrong. I hope more than 31 percent of Red Deerians turn up at elementary schools (or hotels or community halls) today and make a decision, because the people that get those seats will certainly make a lot of decisions over the next three years.

I’ve applauded some of the decisions the current board has made over the last term, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy especially, but I was also happy to see Trustee Macaulay’s motion to advocate for single publicly funded education system pass (narrowly) in the spring. If we look at what other school boards around the province are doing, the RDPSD board has been taking the lead on some important issues.

But for all the good work it’s done, our current board is suffering from a serious lack of diversity. I don’t think anyone can deny that a board that has served, if my quick math is correct (and I failed Math 20, so it might not be) almost 100 years combined is due for some fresh faces.

I don’t have any children in the Red Deer Public School District (yet), but you know who else doesn’t have any children in the district? Any of the seven current trustees.

This is a fact that’s been hammered home by the challengers throughout the campaign, in blog posts, through social media and during the two minute speeches at Inglewood’s Don Campbell Elementary school last Tuesday night.

I agree that the current board is missing some perspectives. I don’t think you have to be the parent of school-age kids (or even have ever been a parent at all) to make a good trustee, but when nobody on the board’s got kids in the system, there’s a voice missing for sure.

So who is going to be the voice for parents? And more importantly, will they be the right voice for the kids?

I urge anyone who hasn’t made up their mind yet or taken advantage of advanced voting to spend some time today checking out the candidate Q&A section on the Red Deer Public School District website as well as the candidates’ social media (for those who use it, anyway).

As a constituent and future RDPSD parent, this campaign has been frustrating. I found some of the bios and speeches in the campaign frustratingly vague: Heavy on irrelevant personal history and light on specific priorities or platform. As a voter, I don’t care for how many generations a candidate’s spouse’s family has lived in Red Deer, I care about their voting records or positions on issues. The first is easy to find. The second is harder, and candidates weren’t always clear.

It’s also been frustrating to see so much of the conversation centered around a debate that should be over in 2017. The GSA at Lindsay Thurber is older than most of the kids who go there, and the RDPSD policy states “parental permission or notification is not required to attend a GSA or QSA”, but some Red Deerians still want to argue about LGBTQ rights.

I’m wary of any candidate who adds caveats when answering the question of whether parents should be notified when a kid joins a GSA or QSA, even if they are not calling for a change to the policy.

I’ll be voting for some current trustees today, and for some newbies, too. I appreciate the candidates who answered questions I asked in emails and over social media, and those who spoke to me in person as well. If you got a question from me but couldn’t be bothered to peck out a reply, I can’t be bothered to vote for you.

If you won’t hear my voice, I can’t trust you to be mine (or, more importantly, my son’s).

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