Big words bring big results

Jeff Burgar

We should all be impressed with the High Prairie School Division’s new 3-Year Plan.

Much of the plan, regrettably, is buried in five dollar words. Five dollar words are big long words, usually found in big long sentences. They come from the writings of people who forgot the acronym, KISS. Which, for those still living under rocks, means Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Here is a sample from a news release from the High Prairie School Division itself on the Plan:

“Aggregated data is then incorporated into targeted strategies to facilitate student success and subsequently improve their achievement results.” We are confident this is welcome news to parents wondering, “Is the schooling my kids get any good?”

Quality of Education is one of the Five Pillars of any community. The other four are Economic Opportunities, like jobs and owning a successful business. Recreation of all kinds. A Safe Community. Finally, Quality of Health Care. Scratch one or two off this list, or don’t do the best you can. People rightly ask, is this where I want to raise my family?

That’s why community leaders fight hard for all their recreation programs. This is why there is always a search for new doctors and new services. This is why it’s so good to see industries, from agriculture to forestry to energy. These help so much for local people wanting good jobs, or starting their own businesses.

So, how is Education doing?

The good news is, the High Prairie School Division seems to at least admit there is work to do.

A big part of management can be summed up two words: Measure things. If you can’t, or won’t measure anything, you will never know if you are making progress.

Going down to the well and drawing out four buckets of water sounds fine. What happens if you need five buckets? When you don’t even count the buckets, all you know is that one day, you don’t have enough. The problem? More people needed? More buckets needed? Not enough water in the well? All questions that might be answered, if only everything is measured. HPSD says they are in the measuring business. Good.

The often criticized Fraser Institute looks at measurements. Particularly, school performance right across Canada. In very simple ways. Educators and governments often say the Fraser reports are horrible. Little is the effort to “fix” the Fraser reports. Or enlighten the general public how they can be made better.

Schools across northern Alberta, in rural Alberta, and even in some districts in Calgary and Edmonton, often rank horribly low. Year after year after year.

The last report has a High Prairie school almost at the bottom. A Slave Lake school is very close.

No matter the failings of the Fraser, consider a recent real estate agent comment about a Toronto home, on the market for only eight days. It sold for $122,000 over the asking price of $1,198,000.

Says the agent, “The buyer profile was young couples and young families wanting to move into this top Fraser Institute-rated school catchment.”

There were other reasons of course. But that was a big one.

HPSD says they are measuring. The next step is results.

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