Support Our Students was born on the playgrounds of Alberta. Our experiences’ as parents witnessing the impact of chronic underfunding of public education on our children inspired us to organize. We believe in a public education system that is fair and equitable to all Albertan children. A public system where funding keeps pace with growth and every student is supported in a healthy and secure learning environment.
Executive Director Carolyn Blasetti
Carolyn grew up in Southern Alberta attending public schools in Okotoks Alberta before moving on to the big city to attend the University of Calgary graduating with a Bachelor of History. She continued her studies by attending the University of Lethbridge graduating with a Bachelor of Education specializing in Native Education. Carolyn taught for the Calgary Board of Education before moving into the non-traditional teaching field of Environmental Education. She worked as an environmental educator at Alberta Environment and then Inside Education a non-profit organization focused on a bias balanced approach to teaching environmental issues.
Communication Director Barbara Silva
Born in Ontario but raised all over Canada, Barbara attended 11 different public and separate schools in Alberta & Ontario. She holds a BSc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calgary. She worked in the Oil & Gas industry for 6 years before pursuing her Master Of Education from the University of Western Ontario in London. After working in the Rockyview School Division for 4 years she now volunteers her time to advocate for children’s rights to an accessible, quality and equitable public education.
Research Director Elsa Campos
Elsa has lived in both the USA and Canada. Studying in the US she received a BA in Psychology from the University of Nebraska and went on to the University of Denver studying social work and receiving a Masters in Social Work. Elsa is a long time advocate for a wholistic approach to mental health care. As a parent with school age children she has been very involved in her local school council and advocating for public education.
Edmonton Director Patricia Grell
The mother of 3 boys ages 19, 16 and 10, Patricia Grell, BSc, MDiv. was a school board trustee from 2013-2017 with Edmonton Catholic School District. As a school trustee she became aware of the inequities in the Alberta education system that create barriers for LGBTQ students, students with special needs and learning disabilities, and those from low income households. She became a strong voice and advocate for these students. Some of her advocacy efforts focused on the establishment of GSAs, development of policies to protect LGBTQ students, equitable access to options, programs and schools for low income students, and providing $2 Million more in funding for students with special needs and learning disabilities. As a parent, citizen and former trustee, she hopes she can continue her advocacy efforts through SOS Alberta so that as a province, we can create an education system that educates the whole child –physically, spiritually, emotionally and academically– and ensures ALL students succeed to their full potential.
When asked, “Who we are,” this is our answer:
We are Support Our Students Alberta, a public education advocacy group who advocates for the right of all children to an equitable and accessible public education system.
We are volunteers.
We are non-profit.
We are community builders.
We are engineers, psychologists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, custodians, speech language pathologists, scientists, dental hygienists, chiropractors, butchers, landscapers, accountants, homemakers, cashiers — hard workers, contributing to all aspects of Alberta society.
We are mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and children.
We are cis, trans, bi, questioning.
We are Muslim, Christian, atheists.
We are public school graduates, private school graduates, we are urban, we are rural.
We are immigrants, refugees, 4th generation Canadians, FNMI.
We are disabled, gifted, special needs, able-bodied.
Most importantly, we are Albertans who believe in the promise of public education to build community across all these beautiful differences.
What we believe:
We believe public education is a child’s human right.
Every child, regardless of income should have a barrier free public education.
We believe there is room for improvement, but also that public education is worth fighting for.
We know children go to school with trauma, mental health needs, food insecurity, poverty-related issues that can create barriers to their learning, something no PISA or standardized test score can measure.
We know children go undiagnosed and unsupported for learning disabilities, and early intervention could greatly affect their future.
We know some parents and families are unable to pay for the testing required to properly diagnose and treat their children.
We know some children feel unsafe at school, because of the colour of their skin, their religion or their gender identity.
We believe GSAs save lives
We believe institutionalized and systemic racism exists throughout our education system.
We believe an unsupported, alienated and marginalized student becomes an alienated and marginalized citizen.
We believe competition has no place in education. Inherent in competition are winners and losers and no child should lose when it comes to education. Especially when the competition is tilted in favour of the privileged.
We believe choice is a euphemism for segregation.
We believe public funds should be for public schools.
What we have done:
We have have conducted a province wide survey researching how education resources manifest on the frontlines for Alberta children.
We have met with representatives of all provincial parties, including members of the former Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, (Now UCP), Liberal Party, Alberta Party, Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta and the New Democratic Party.
We have met with elected officials at the municipal and school board levels.
We have collaborated with public education advocacy groups across Alberta and in other provinces and internationally.
We travelled to 4 cities across Alberta to screen the enlightening documentary Backpack Full of Cash, a cautionary tale of the privatization of education.
We engage with anyone and everyone who wants to work in the best interests of children. Our door has always been and remains open for these discussions.
We are a non-partisan group. Above all else, what we do, the countless nights we volunteer to write, to plan, to work, to collaborate, we do because, we believe that when we meet the needs of the most vulnerable children, we elevate the quality of life for all children. We do not volunteer our time and energy for our own children; we do it because we believe in the institution of public education. We do not think education should be political but the moment public funds were provided to private institutions, it became a political issue. We won’t pretend that 250 million dollars a year is not diverted from the public system to private hands. We won’t pretend competition does not hurt the most vulnerable of our population. We won’t pretend outing LGBTQ2+ children is not religious infiltration of a public service.
We are Albertans, we are proud, engaged citizens, who will continue to advocate, not because we need you to know who we are, but because our children are watching.