Tuesday, 17 March 2015

I am a teacher and I vote NDP

Public schools are messy places. They have to be messy. How else can we take thousands of children from all backgrounds and provide them with opportunities to succeed? In our public schools, boys like the sons of my millionaire friends work alongside the children of minimum wage temporary foreign workers. In our public schools, girls like my northern daughters obtain the foundational knowledge to lead to a PhD from Cambridge or a degree and  a job in geophysics. Schools are complicated. They are far from utopian. But they are full of promise. They are a microcosm of the Alberta I believe in. 

I am a teacher and I vote NDP because I believe in equality. The children in Alberta’s public schools come from all income brackets and from every walk of life. The children of the rich and the children of the poor. Those born with every advantage and those born into the vicious inter-generational cycle of poverty. Children raised by siblings, foster parents, stay home moms, nannies, kookums and moosums. Children with a myriad of skills and talents and needs. These kids do not walk into our classrooms “equal” but when they enter our schools, the rich kids don't get exclusive rights to play with the good toys. All kids are welcomed equally. All kids are treated equally. They learn to recognize value in each other. And I believe that if that kind of equality can exist in a school, it can exist in society.

I am a teacher and I vote NDP because I know there is strength in diversity. Our schools are filled with children of many colours, religions, environmental views, ideological beliefs, cultures and languages. Children of refugees. Children of pioneers. Children of immigrants. Children of Canada’s First Peoples. Children who are co-creators of knowledge and will one day be co-creators of their own society. They should not be put into separate buildings where they only see others like themselves. Our schools and our society will move forward when we hear each others' voices. And I believe that if we can celebrate diversity in a school, we can do so in society.

I am a teacher and I vote NDP because I believe human potential is not something that should be squandered. Society cannot continue to ignore the social capital inherent in our next generation. Students succeed when they are given the right tools and someone who believes in them. When they work hard and are rewarded, they learn what they are capable of and in turn they give back. If we can recognize the potential of each human in a school, we can do so as a province. We can build social capital in our province and that will benefit each and every Albertan.

I am a teacher and I vote NDP because I believe in progress. An excellent fully funded public education is the way out of poverty. Our ancestors knew it and so do we. Many of my students will never be able to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” but they will pull themselves up with assistance. That assistance should be the birthright of every child born in this province. It should not be based on the ability to pay, the price of oil, the whims of a charitable donor or the misguided notion that all Albertans, including children, must pay for corporate welfare. There is such a thing as progress. I see it in my school every day.

I am a teacher and I vote NDP because I know that if we value equality, diversity and human potential in our schools, children can raise themselves up. They can make their own lives better while contributing to their communities. Henry Marshall Tory described the purpose of the University of Alberta as "the uplifting of the whole people." But that is not just an educational goal. It is the goal of society. 

That is why I am a teacher and I vote NDP.