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Education

Questions people ask about RDC

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by Joel Ward, President, RDC

In my role at Red Deer College, I have the opportunity to connect with people from across central Alberta. Whether this is at events hosted by RDC or at other activities in the community, I always enjoy speaking with students, alumni, parents, partners and interested citizens. A great many people are connected with RDC, and what I’ve found through my conversations is that they truly care about what’s happening here.

Over the years, people have asked me a variety of questions about our College, and today I’m happy to provide you with a sample of the commonly asked questions and my thoughts on each.

How many students attend RDC, and where are they from?

On any given day, we have about 7,500 students on our campuses. When I look back at our information from 2016-17, I see that 65% of our students came from central Alberta, with 15% from northern Alberta, 13% from the southern part and 7% coming from outside of our province. These students come from across Canada and from 16 countries around the world.

What is all the construction about?

We are fortunate to be in a time of growth and development at Red Deer College, and each new facility taking shape across main campus is the result of many years of careful and strategic planning. It’s hard to believe the preliminary site work for the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris began back in the fall of 2015. Each day, we are moving closer to its completion and, in September 2018, we will welcome our first group of students to this teaching and learning centre. Not long after, the building will be a huge part of the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Our second construction project, the Alternative Energy Lab, demonstrates our commitment to the exploration and demonstration of new environmental technologies. The lab will provide learning and research opportunities for students and businesses to explore alternative energy solutions. Our third project, a new Residence, is under construction and is visible from 32nd Street. This unique facility incorporates solar panels on three sides and includes apartment-style studio suites, access for those with mobility challenges and short-term accommodation for our Apprenticeship students. All three new buildings support RDC’s goal of reducing our carbon footprint through energy efficient technologies.

What can I take at RDC?

We offer more than 100 programs, and these include everything from collaborative degrees, where students can take all of their courses at RDC, to university transfer programs, where they take their first year or two at RDC and complete at another institution. We also offer skilled trades, diplomas and certificates. This fall, we launched two new programs – the Human Resources Management Graduate Certificate and the Instrumentation Engineering Technology Diploma.

What new programs are on the horizon?

Looking ahead, our senior administrators and faculty are always looking for ways to develop new programs that will offer students the real-world information they need for today’s jobs. One example of this is happening right now in the School of Creative Arts, with two proposed cutting-edge programs – the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Film, Theatre, and Live Entertainment, and the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation and Visual Effects. Once we have approval from the government, we intend to launch these programs in the fall of 2018, offering students one-of-a-kind opportunities in the ever-growing film and special effects industries.

When will we be able to complete our degrees at RDC?

We continue to work with our government partners to achieve our goal of RDC becoming a degree- granting institution. If people didn’t have to leave to complete their degrees, as I described above,

Red Deer College | 100 College Boulevard | Box 5005 | Red Deer | AB | Canada | T4N 5H5 | www.rdc.ab.ca

then it would have a huge, positive impact on students, families and even the economy of central Alberta. We will continue to strive to make this goal a reality for our future students.

These questions provide a snapshot of what’s happening here at RDC, and they show how we are always growing and evolving to better serve you, our students and partners and communities. As we continue to grow, I look forward to sharing this information with you – in this column and when we meet in the community.

Joel Ward is President & CEO of Red Deer College

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Calgary

Hidden Valley School Parents Rally for a New Playground

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Hidden Valley School Parents Rally for a New Playground

Contributed by Friends of the Hidden Valley School Society

The Friends of Hidden Valley School Society is looking to replace the 17-year-old outdoor playground directly behind the school as soon as possible, as the existing play equipment is soon to be at the end of its lifecycle. The society has been proactively raising funds for several years but they have a long way to go.

Now that they have a conceptual design and an estimated cost for the project, the hardest part is fundraising. The parent society has raised 32% of the $370K project to date. They will need to raise at least half of the project costs on their own in order to be eligible to qualify for any kind of grant funding support.

“Our non-profit parent society financially supports our students and their learning annually by supplementing initiatives such as math and reading literacy kits for classrooms, providing buses for field trips like swimming lessons and paying for residency programs so that all our students get an equal opportunity for enhanced learning opportunities” states Sarah P, Chairperson. Figuring out now how to financially support the school on an annual basis in addition to building a new playground takes an enormous amount of time and effort from a volunteer perspective. “There are a lot of moving parts to a project this size, and collaboration with stakeholders is key. We’ve done our due diligence by hosting community engagement with students, staff and parents to decide on what types of play equipment should be included in an inclusive playground.  Students, staff and external stakeholders have written letters of support in hopes of helping with seeking out external funding support.”

Friends of Hidden Valley School Society has teamed up with Parks Foundation Calgary for money management of the project. Through its Project Support Program (PSP), the Parks Foundation can issue tax receipts for donations made to the project.

Hidden Valley School is a K-3 French Immersion public school located in the heart of the community of Hidden Valley in NW Calgary. The school’s inclusive playground will have a direct impact on the 400+ staff and students at the school and 700+ children who live within the surrounding community neighbourhoods and utilize the playground outside of school hours. “Figuring out how to reach the greater community to support this project is the challenge. We’re currently hosting a raffle that anyone in Alberta can enter in hopes of raising $20K in support of the project. This fall we will host a silent auction and if everything works out, we are hoping to reach 50% of our fundraising goal by 2023”.

Replacing the school playground will allow students safe, continued use year-round.  As mandated by Alberta Education’s Daily Physical Activity (DPA) Initiative, the parent society will be supporting students in developing healthy, active lifestyles; increasing students’ ability to learn. For more information about the Friends of Hidden Valley School Society’s playground project visit the “Get Involved” section of the school’s website or check out their Facebook Page at @Hiddenvalleyschoolcalgary.

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Education

Talk of race, sex in schools divides Americans: AP-NORC poll

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are deeply divided over how much children in K-12 schools should be taught about racism and sexuality, according to a new poll released as Republicans across the country aim to make parental involvement in education a central campaign theme this election year.

Overall, Americans lean slightly toward expanding — not cutting back — discussions of racism and sexuality, but roughly 4 in 10 say the current approach is about right, including similar percentages across party lines. Still, the poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows stark differences between Republicans and Democrats who want to see schools make adjustments.

About 4 in 10 Republicans say teachers in local public schools discuss issues related to sexuality too much, while only about 1 in 10 say too little. Among Democrats, those numbers are reversed.

The findings reflect a sharply politicized national debate that has consumed local school boards and, increasingly, state capitols. Republicans see the fight over school curriculum as a winning culture war issue that will motivate their voters in the midterm elections.

In the meantime, a flurry of new state laws has been introduced, meant to curtail teaching about racism and sexuality and to establish a “parents’ bill of rights” that would champion curriculum transparencyand allow parents to file complaints against teachers.

The push for legislation grew out of an elevated focus on K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, when angry parents crowded school board meetings to voice opposition to school closures, mask mandates and other restrictive measures intended to prevent the spread of illness.

“All that that’s happening these days kind of goes against the longer history of school boards being relatively low salience government institutions and, in a lot of cases, they are nonpartisan offices,” said Adam Zelizer, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School researching school board legislation.

What distinguishes this moment, Zelizer said, is the “grassroots anger” in response to school policies and the national, coordinated effort to recruit partisan candidates for school boards and local offices.

What started as parents’ concern about virtual learning and mask wearing has morphed into something larger, said Republican pollster Robert Blizzard, describing parents as thinking: “OK, now that we have the schools open, what are these kids learning in school?”

The poll shows 50% of Americans say parents have too little influence on curriculum, while 20% say they have too much and 27% say it’s about right. About half also say teachers have too little influence.

Kendra Schultz said she and her husband have decided their 1-year-old daughter will be homeschooled, at least initially, because of what friends have told them about their experiences with schools in Columbia, Missouri.

Most recently, she said, one 4-year-old’s pre-K class talked about gender pronouns. Schultz offered that and mask requirements as examples of how the public school system “doesn’t align with what we believe or how we would like to see our children educated.”

“I’m just like, you’re a little kid, you should be learning your ABCs and your numbers and things like that,” said Schultz, a 30-year-old conservative. “That’s just not something that me and my husband would be interested in having teachers share with our children.”

In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in March signed into law a billbarring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Opponents, including the White House, have dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The poll shows Americans are slightly more likely to say the focus on sex and sexuality in local schools is too little rather than too much, 31% to 23%, but 40% say it’s about right. The poll didn’t ask about specific grade levels.

Blizzard, who has been working with a group called N2 America to help GOP candidates in suburbs, said the schools issue resonates with the Republican base and can motivate voters.

In the Virginia governor’s race last year, Republican Glenn Youngkin won after campaigning on boosting parental involvement in schools and banning critical race theory, an academic framework about systemic racism that has become a catch-all phrase for teaching about race in U.S. history. His Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, had said in a debate that parents shouldn’t tell schools what to teach.

The poll also shows Americans have mixed views about schools’ focus on racism in the U.S.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said parents and teachers alike are frustrated after pandemic disruptions and should partner to help kids recover. The efforts to predetermine curriculum and restrict teaching are getting in the way, she said.

“The people who are proposing them, they’ve been pretty clear … they just want to sow doubt and distrust because they want to end public education as we know it,” Weingarten said.

Parents of school-age children aren’t more likely than other adults to say parents have too little influence in schools. But there is a wide partisan gap, with 65% of Republicans saying that, compared with 38% of Democrats.

Michael Henry, a father of three in Dacula, Georgia, says he’s wrestled over what the right level of involvement is. It didn’t sit right with him, for example, that his 6-year-old was taught about Christopher Columbus in an entirely positive light. He says he’s reflected on “some of the lies” and “glorifications of history” in his own public school education and thinks race needs to be talked about more.

But ultimately, school curriculum is “outside my area of expertise,” said Henry, 31, an actuary who is also the acting president of the Gwinnett County Young Democrats.

“I have to do a lot of studying and work to be able to make informed decisions, and I don’t feel like parents generally have that kind of skill set” for curriculum, he said. “I think professionals should mostly be determining what the curriculum should be.”

Henry worries that new restrictions are “adding extra hassle for teachers, who already have a lot on their plate, to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”

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AP Education Writer Collin Binkley in Boston contributed to this report.

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The AP-NORC poll of 1,082 adults was conducted March 17-21 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Hannah Fingerhut, The Associated Press

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