Our Op-ed September 26, 2016 Calgary and Edmonton Sun
Blasetti, Silva and Turner: Education’s at a crossroads – one path leads to inequity, the other to true public education
It’s no secret Alberta is facing one of its toughest economic challenges in decades. It’s on the minds of all Albertans, including families and kids.
What an incredible summer our family has had. We’ve been on both our best and worst camping trips this year. We’ve covered a big chunk of Alberta, as far North as Whitecourt (if you’ve never been to their Rotary Park, you need to go. I promise, even if you live in Lethbridge, this place is worth the drive http://www.whitecourt.ca/RecreationCulture/RotaryPark/tabid/675/Default.aspx) and as far South as Pincher Creek and Frank’s Slide. We even discovered an amazing gem just an hours drive from our front door: Dry Island Buffalo Jump http://www.albertaparks.ca/dry-island-buffalo-jump/information-facilities/.
Alberta is truly a spectacular place. I’m so grateful to have the chance to raise my children here and to be able to see so much of what our province has to offer. I’ve lived here my entire life; my childhood was spent in a teeny tiny town in central Alberta, my twenties in the far, far North, and now my husband and I are raising our children in a nice size town south of Red Deer.
My husband works on the road so he misses a lot of things, but this fall he gets to be home for a big moment: our oldest child D’s first day of Kindergarten! It’s hard to say who’s the most excited in our house; we are a family of adventurers after all. It’s gratifying to see your children grow up and take big steps like riding the school bus for the first time, but there’s a little trepidation as well. I worry about our son making friends and following the classroom rules. I worry that coming from a liberal household in a conservative, rural area is going to limit his social life, even more so because he’ll be starting French Immersion in Grade One.
But even those worries can’t dampen the thrill I feel about all the things D is going to be cramming into his head in the next ten months. The other day, he told me that when his Daddy gets home, he’s going to get him to build him a time machine so he can take me back to the day the dinosaurs died, so that I’ll die. (Quiet time is pretty controversial in our house) Beyond being upset about his death wish on me, I did admire his creativity. It’s exciting to think of how much more imaginative his insults (and compliments: he’s good at those too) are going to get with exposure to new ideas.
Some of those new ideas will have to be corrected: yes, girls can marry other girls, no Jesus is not going to send you to hell if you don’t believe in him. But we’re going to live our lives by the values that we hold. Love, kindness, generosity, curiosity, learning, justice, and loud-mouthed exuberant affection. I might get called into the office because D drops an F-bomb. We’ll work that out if it happens. If he does have trouble making friends, I’ll hold him and make sure he knows that boys do cry. And I will always advocate for him and his classmates, because children deserve the very best education this beautiful province can give them. Happy First Day of School everyone!
Warm regards from rural Alberta
P.S. In the interests of embarrassing D as much as possible, please enjoy this recent picture of him in the bathtub.