Alberta Teachers Association Speech & Questions


Good evening, my name is Jeff Lee. I’m running for Catholic School Board Trustee in Ward 73. Thank you for everyone that has attended today as it clearly shows Publicly Funded Catholic Education is important. I want to thank the ATA and everyone involved, all their hard work, and commitment to making this forum happen today. Please give them a hand of applause.

I did not run for Catholic School Board Trustee, to fulfill some long-held ambition or because of political gain. I’m running because all children matter when it comes to Publicly Funded  Catholic Education. I value Catholic Education and its important to me.

Now the candidates before me and after me will probably tell you or list all their credentials. They will even tell you how they are qualified to lead the new Catholic School Board. 

What I will tell you is when it comes to diversity, I am a Chinese-Canadian born from parents who immigrated to Canada, and I’m living it. When it comes to Inclusion, my nephew has down-syndrome, I understand it and I’m living it. When it comes to being a Parent and their child is in the Catholic School system, my son goes to St. Catherine, I’m Living it. When it comes to Education & being a Teacher, I have a Bachelor of Education, and I teach on Treaty 8 Reserve, I’m living it. When it comes to being Roman Catholic, I’m baptised and my church is Mary Help of Christians, I’m living it. 

I don’t know if I’m qualified to lead, I will leave that up to you to decide. I hope to earn your vote through healthy dialogue, and discussions tonight. I look forward to meeting you all.

Thank you to everyone here. I’m honored and truly blessed to be a part of this evening. Thanks be to God.

Describe what it means to be a school trustee?

As a school trustee its our role to ensure the funding and education is in line with the jurisdiction of the Alberta Government and making sure the Catholic Teachings are being followed. Having said that, its important to recognize its more complex than just a simple clear cut answer.
It’s recognizing everyone on the board will bring a diversity of issues based on their Wards needs. It’s recognizing we need to all work together respectfully and to support each other. We need to know we will all have a meaningful voice and we will all encourage positive dialogue so we can all solve the issues together. When solving issues, we need to be mindful of the parish, community, schools, teachers, parents and the children. Collaboration is the key.

As a board, we need to respect the democratic process. If we vote on an issue we have too respect the process and outcome. I will remind my colleagues, we may not always agree, but this is what makes democracy so special. Once a decision is made, we need to come together and speak as one Voice. Our voice, represents the Catholic community, from Parish, home, & schools. For example, Teachers don’t want to read, hear, or see any negative news in the media about the School Board or the Trustees as they are the frontline workers and will have to deal with the issues when parents have concerns.

What challenges do you see for Catholic education?

There will always be challenges when it comes to Catholic Education. Society is constantly changing and evolving. Therefore, school needs will also change. What is important and relevant now, may not be later. We must acknowledge all challenges are different but all challenges are equally important. The two challenges that come to mind is Modernization and Publicly Funded Catholic Education.

Modernization means if we want our children to succeed we need to keep up with a changing society. This starts with resources in classrooms. We need to advocate in a healthy constructive way for public or private funding to ensure teachers get the latest textbooks to technology to support them in their teaching. We need to bring all levels of government, community, and businesses together to solve these issues together.

There are advocates that want “One publicly funded school system”. As your Trustee, I will advocate for a Publicly Funded Separate School system. We need to raise awareness both school systems are PUBLICLY FUNDED, as Tax payers, we want that money accounted for. Since they both advocate for the same money, right now we have accountability and transparency. If its one system, how do we know if our dollars will go to the right needs? And if they go after separate schools, will they go after charter, private or home school? 
Having said that, I can’t do this alone, we all need to come together from Parish, community, schools, parents and children to raise awareness of why we need Separate Schools. 

How will you address the needs of the complex classroom?

Enrolment was 32,943 in 2008 and as of 2016 that enrolment is 41,333. As presented, our population has increased and that brings diverse needs. The dynamics of the classroom has changed and has become more complex. Teachers need to provide a safe place, respect, as well as teach to all students regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identification, ethnic origin, type of family, mental health, special needs and so many more. How do you meet all the needs of a diverse population?

We need to all work together from government, parish, community, schools, home and children to raise awareness teachers require more support based on diversity. For example, parents can help at home to encourage their child to learn. That begins with helping with homework by turning off the TV. We can’t be blaming teachers if we are not instilling the commitment to learn at home. 

Another example, the government has a responsibility to provide more funding. There are lots of teachers who want to be teaching in the classroom who are not because of government cuts and not because they can’t do the job. At the same token, funding alone doesn’t solve all the problems. We also need to work together to raise the expectation and standards in the classroom. Students have a responsibility to come to class, listen and learn. As your trustee, my focus will be on Collaboration, we all need to work together to solve the needs of the classroom.