Celebrating Success

David Flower

What an appropriate slogan for Education Week 1995, especially in view of the positive response from parents about education in Alberta. We have reason to pat ourselves on the back. Teachers have every reason to feel good about themselves and what they do. Despite funding setbacks and carping attacks from critics, public education continues to receive high marks from parents. Good things continue to happen in Alberta's schools. However, nothing's perfect. One problem teachers and education face is that the "public," those people who don't have children in school, aren't getting the message. We need to get the message to them that the public school system is doing a good job. The proof is in Alberta Education's annual report.

So what gives?

Either people haven't time to read the report, or they haven't seen it in the first place, or it's not telling the kind of story that makes good news coverage. And that, of course, is entirely different matter.

Why do we always have the knack to find what's wrong, rather than highlight what we're doing right. For example, the evening television news almost invariably begins with crashes, murders, abductions or natural disasters. These new items are followed by news of a falling dollar, higher bank rates, you name it. Rarely do we celebrate success.

The same holds true with some newspapers. It seems there's an insatiable fascination for depressing stories. Let me give you an example. When the annual report of Alberta Education was released, the story played by one daily newspaper related to the 70 percent high school completion rate and the premier's reaction to that statistic. No mention was made of the 86 percent parent satisfaction rate with schools, or the 89 percent of parents who agree their child's school is run well. Why weren't parents' high satisfaction ratings mentioned?

There are hundreds of good things happening daily in Alberta's classrooms. The excitement, enthusiasm and innovative spirit of teachers and students must be conveyed to the general public. Everyone has reason to celebrate Alberta's successes in education.