Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Campaign Update: Trent Wotherspoon

And rounding out this long string of posts, comes the latest from Trent Wotherspoon's campaign.

In addition to his campaigning around the province; Trent's team has release their first policy guideline revolving around education in our province. (LINK)

Trent has drawn heavily on his own background in teaching, and on his family's long line of connections to education, to call attention to plan to reform education from K-12 and beyond. So, let's take a direct look at the plan.

The first plank in the plan is to address early education. Trent's plan calls for expanding pre-kindergarten programs to all publicly funded schools across the province; work towards ensuring full day kindergarten programs; and developing a Saskatchewan plan for childcare that would increase regulated spaces and cap fees at affordable rates.

The second plank is to address inclusion in schools. Trent's plan calls for increasing teachers, education assistants, and other support staff while striving to reflect Saskatchewan's population diversity; a reduction in class sizes and increased support with a focus on K to Fourth Grade; enhanced support for anti-bullying measures and enacting of anti-bullying legislation, with provisions for the creation of 'gay-straight' alliances in schools; improvement of English as an additional language classes and settlement services; ensuring all schools are equipped with up to date technology and provide support for educators to use this technology in their curriculum; ensure that Treaty Education is provided to all K-12 students, while also working with First Nations Leadership to develop a treaty and cultural centre.

The third plan is affordability. Trent's plan calls for an immediate reduction of $500 in tuition fees for post-secondary schools; the support of a tuition freeze at this new level, and for a plan to further lower tuition fees in the future; and support for 'Shannen's Dream', which would close the funding and outcome gap between on-reserve and off-reserve schools throughout Saskatchewan.

The fourth plank is success after education. Trent's plan calls for the creation of an aggressive strategy of skills training, job placement, and apprenticeship programs to meet the demands of the labour market; it also calls for a focus to be placed on assisting Aboriginal youth, newcomers to the province, and women in non-traditional post secondary courses and careers.

The final plank is accessibility to education. Trent's plan calls for a commission on rural education to examine how early years, K-12 and post-secondary education can be implemented and improved upon; enhancing post-secondary education in rural and Northern through improving long-distance learning and partnerships; commitment with Northern partners to build a post-secondary campus in La Ronge; and the establishment of a Northern Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy.

So, a lot to cover there, though I think breaking them down into the key planks: Early Eduction, Inclusion, Affordability, Successful Transition, and Accessibility go a long way in helping to nail down the approach Trent's campaign is taking to education.

Trent's camp is right to point out that our current education system hasn't changed all that much from those of the past, and that we need to reform the system (both economically and fundamentally) to create a better education system within the province.

Trent's covered a lot of good ground with these proposals, especially by including ways to make schools more inclusive to a changing body of students and teachers and staff. It'll be interesting to see whether any further proposals come forward from Trent's team revolving around education, as they've certainly laid a great foundation.

Another major strength is Trent's heavy drawing on rural and Northern issues; couple this with the fact that Trent has already hit the ground running to visit many rural and Northern communities, and I think it would be safe to say that Trent stands a good chance of capturing a lot of support from these regions. 

As it stands, all of the campaigns have drawn on strengths of their candidates from their lives before politics, and it seems like we're getting some great ideas from this wealth of experience.

I imagine I'll have more to say directly about some of Trent's proposals, but for now, I'll leave the editorializing out of it. 

No comments: