Category: education

LaGrange: Protecting LGBTQ2S+ students

On Friday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange issued the following statement on the protections for students under the Education Act:

With the passionate debate taking place in the legislature about Bill 8, I feel it’s important to clarify a few important misconceptions about student protections under the Education Act.

To be absolutely clear: our government opposes mandatory parental notification of student involvement in inclusion groups, and Alberta will have among the most comprehensive statutory protections for gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in Canada.

Once requested by students, creating a GSA is not optional. In Alberta, like Manitoba and Ontario, the Education Act specifically guarantees in legislation that students are entitled to create inclusion groups, including GSAs and QSAs. Compared to legislation in Ontario and Manitoba, the Education Act provides greater direction regarding the appointment of a staff liaison for the student organization.

With amendments introduced through Bill 8, we are also clarifying that board obligations regarding welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments, policies and publicly available student codes of conduct apply to all publicly funded schools – including accredited private schools.

Reference has also been made to Nova Scotia and British Columbia, which have no overarching provincial statutes protecting GSAs. Unlike the Education Act, British Columbia’s ministry directive and Nova Scotia’s provincial policy are not enshrined in provincial legislation.

The privacy of students is also protected under Alberta’s strict privacy laws. Schools cannot disclose a student’s membership in any inclusion group, as there are student privacy considerations that trump other legislation, including the Education Act and the previous government’s Bill 24.

All school authorities are required to follow privacy legislation: publicly funded schools must follow the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and private schools must adhere to the Personal Information Protection Act. School authorities may only disclose personal information if authorized under these laws.

We also recognize every child is unique and every circumstance is different. Legislation needs to balance protecting children and their privacy with the rights of parents, so children are getting the supports they need. Though it would be rare, disclosure of GSA/QSA membership would only be justified on the basis that the disclosure would avert or minimize a risk of harm.

“Unlike the previous government, we trust professional educators to navigate these difficult situations to do what is in the best interest of kids. No responsible teacher or principal would ever reveal a child’s sexual orientation. This approach provides a clear balance between student privacy and parental rights – a balance and clarity that was not found in Bill 24.

Our government believes that the safety of students in school is paramount. I am looking forward to engaging students, parents, teachers and administrators as we work together to build a modern education system which supports all students.

Adriana LaGrange
Education Minister

EDITOR’S NOTE: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of rdnewsNOW or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Column suggestions and letters to the editor can be sent to news@rdnewsNOW.com

RDC to introduce new President & CEO Tuesday

Red Deer College will announce their new President & CEO at a special event scheduled for Tuesday (June 18) morning.

The announcement comes after an 18-month search conducted by the RDC Board of Governors, with assistance from executive search firm, Leaders International.

RDC’s 11th President and CEO will take over leadership of the institution from the retiring Joel Ward starting on September 3.

‘Counter-productive’ social media chat fueled rumours during Eastview Middle School incident: School District

Those in the know are warning the greater school community to be extra careful when it comes to using social media during incidents like the one this week at Eastview Middle School.

Three youth have been arrested in connection to the situation which saw the school put under lockdown on Tuesday afternoon. RCMP also say that a replica firearm was located at the scene.

Officials say social media played a role in spreading misinformation about the incident – before, during and after.

“We actually encourage students not to engage in texting or social media during something like a lockdown because that in and of itself can pose a threat in terms of providing details or creating noise and sound,” says Bruce Buruma, Director of Community Relations, Red Deer Public Schools.

“We know there’s an urge for students to do that, to touch base with parents, and we fully understand that but we try in that situation to provide as much information as we can through a system called School Messenger. That sends out a variety of messages through text, email and voice — we relied on text messaging here — to get the details we could provide out to parents. That was based on our work with RCMP.”

RELATED: Third arrest made in Eastview Middle School incident

Buruma also notes several posts which have popped up on social media since the incident concluded have caused undue anxiety and stress for families.

“There are some legal implications that go with that, but they also aren’t conducive to trying to get things taken care of in the proper legal and effective means,” he adds. “If there was any threat to the safety of students and staff, we would not have had school.”

Jo Phillips with Jo(e) Social Media Inc. says the biggest challenge is peoples’ desire for information to be handed to them immediately.

“When stuff like this happens, it’s essential that the people who are in charge make sure they are communicating well, which we saw happen, and then it’s important that parents specifically don’t add their two cents or opinions,” she says.

“Whenever something like this happens, stay out of it, stay offline, because that’s not helpful and you actually create a bigger challenge for police and the communicators in the school. By getting over-dramatic is actually creating another problem for them and we need them focusing in on the kids when this stuff happens.”

Red Deer Public Schools shared updates via email/text every 10-15 minutes while Tuesday’s events were unfolding.

The three youth charged are to appear in court on June 27.

Local school boards pleased with province’s plan to fund new students

News of the provincial government’s plan to fully fund new students entering grade school classrooms this fall is welcome news for Red Deer’s two largest school districts.

Bev Manning, board chair for Red Deer Public Schools says it’s something they were hoping for and are thankful for.

“I’ve felt that the government would certainly understand the complications of not funding any new student enrolment growth,” says Manning. “In Red Deer, we grow by about 100-150 students every year and we’re certainly expecting that again next year. That would have left us with over a million dollar shortfall. That would have been a huge challenge for us.”

Manning says new student funding is a big piece of the puzzle to their annual budget.

“As we work together to sort of piece all those pieces of information together, it should be very helpful to us.”

Anne Marie Watson, board chair for Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools says it’s good to hear the news but would still like to see it in writing.

“As a growing division, that was a concern that we had that we were worried that might not be funded,” says Watson. “Last year we had 2.2 per cent growth which is over 200 students and we would expect about the same this year. But we won’t know our final numbers until the end of September.”

While the new student funding does create more certainty in terms of budgeting, Watson looks forward to further clarity when the provincial budget comes out in the fall.

“There’s still uncertainty whether the Classroom Improvement Fund will continue,” says Watson. “That’s something the previous government instituted that lasted two years and that was over a million dollars funding. Another one is the School Nutrition program, the fate of that is of concern to us.”

Breaking Point: Follow-Up…Tonight at 10

Last week, we revealed the crisis facing Iowa’s classrooms. Now, our investigation into classroom violence expands…as parents come forward.

Dan Winters Investigates…Tonight on Channel 13 News at 10

Extreme & Violent Student Behavior Pushing Iowa Teachers to Breaking Point

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa teachers tell Channel 13 they are so overwhelmed by extreme violent behavior they have reached a breaking point.  They asked us to share their stories so people will understand what happens inside classrooms.

Ashlee May teaches second grade in Des Moines.  She said, “Most people, I don’t think, realize kind of what’s happening.  We get screamed at and cursed at daily.  I’ve been stabbed with a pencil before.”

Police reports back her up.  They contain stories of children ages 10 and younger throwing chairs, punching teachers in the face, and leaving bruises on instructors.  May considers herself lucky.  “In terms of what other teachers deal with, I think I’ve been kind of blessed because I’ve never had to go to the hospital.”

A teacher whose identity we concealed based on her fear of retaliation from administrators for speaking out told us children “get in the faces of the teachers.”  She said she hears things like, “Get out of my way, you (expletives).  You can’t do anything to me.  I’m not going to get into trouble.  You’re going to get into trouble.  All kinds of intimidation.”

May said, “There just comes a point where you’re just so worn out emotionally, and physically, and mentally that you just can’t do it anymore.”

May is leaving her second-grade classroom in Des Moines next fall to take a job in the suburbs.  But experts say that doesn’t mean violent outbursts won’t follow. It can happen anywhere.

“In every state in the country,” said Mary Jane Cobb.  She is the executive director of the teachers union, the Iowa State Education Association.  “And (this type of violence against teachers) is not an urban issue or a rural issue.  It’s a school issue.”

Cobb said teachers have been sounding the alarm privately about extreme behavior for years.  She said they regularly have to stop instruction and escort well-behaved children to safety in the hallway while a student having an outburst destroys the classroom.  May said that can go on undeterred for as long as an hour.  Teachers are instructed not to place their hands on students unless the child becomes a safety threat to themselves or others.

Cobb said, “What you’ve just described is very frustrating.  That’s what they call a ‘room clear.’”

We took these frustrations directly to Des Moines Public School District’s superintendent, Dr. Thomas Ahart.  “(Addressing this behavior) is actually at the top of our priorities, and we’re actively working on plans for next year.”

Ahart said he understands the problem.  He said his district’s 2,800 teachers are dealing with a lack of mental health treatment options, and the issues are showing up at school.  He said they result from “all the gaps in our social fabric that schools are more and more expected to take on.”

Ahart says teachers are tasked with types of nurturing that have never been asked of them, that they weren’t trained for, and state lawmakers haven’t budgeted for.

“Obviously, I can’t mention names, but there’s a family on the south side (of Des Moines) who desperately wants to get services for their son, but there’s at least a two-month wait.”

Iowa State Department of Education Director Ryan Wise acknowledged that extreme behavior is a statewide issue. He said he hears it from teachers he visits every day.  Wise said, “I’m the parent of a fourth-grade son and a seventh-grade son, and unfortunately they’ve had these situations happen in their classrooms where they’ve had to leave (as the result of a ‘room clear’).”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed children’s mental health legislation.  Wise is optimistic it will quell the problem, but he’s also advocating for more options for teachers to deal with extreme behavior.  Wise said, “We’ve already gone through the first step of noticing rules around seclusion and restraint that better define the guidelines.”

When asked if she thinks the day-to-day behavior situation in Iowa classrooms can improve, she said, “Yeah.  I think it has to get better.”

Manage Mac in Education with SCCM: A New Approach for Device Management

Manage Mac in Education with SCCM: A New Approach for Device Management


The needs of education centers rapidly
change in order to meet the challenges of technology in the classroom. More
Mac® computers are being used in Windows-centric educational environments, and
many Windows administrators don’t have native enterprise tools to meet this
challenge.

How many IT specialists are required for an environment to remain free from performance failures and stay up to date? West College Scotland has 30 IT professionals to keep their infrastructure running. Their environment is typical: devices are diverse, remote, and spread out across different locations.


The Challenge

Windows applications (such as Office 2016
and Office 365) as well as different project-management, 3D, and
game-development solutions can be found on the 5,000 PCs at West College
Scotland. On top of this, Office and graphic-design programs from Microsoft and
Adobe are used on 300 Mac® computers. These computers are primarily used as
part of the college’s design courses, as well as in the private apartments of
evening students.

The three originally independent colleges
and current campus of West College Scotland had already successfully
implemented Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) for efficient
administration of their infrastructures. Thanks to SCCM, it was possible to
roll out application programs, operating systems, and required updates in a
centralized manner. Microsoft SCCM offered ultra-convenient asset and device
management and quickly replaced previous installation and imaging routines, which
had been manual and taken up a great deal of time.

However, one question remained: How would they deal with the ever-increasing number of Apple® computers on campus? The basic functionalities that Microsoft SCCM provides for managing Mac were indeed an improvement on the previous, exclusively manual administration of iMac® and MacBook® devices. But the standard of management it offered was far from convenient. Even DeployStudio, which had been developed by one of the employees to create and restore hard drive images, was unable to resolve this issue.


The Mac Management Dilemmas Faced by IT Education
Manage Mac in Education with SCCM: A New Approach for Device Management 1

The alternative to managing Mac and PC computers together is usually a siloed approach for support and management. This adds more cost to already tight education budgets where investments in students, staff, and administration are the highest priorities. These siloed approaches carve up support budgets into smaller, less productive spends. They also set up separate support structures, which grow into their own concerns.


Security

These days, the “bad guys” don’t care if you’re on a Mac or a PC. The Intel central processing unit (CPU) in Mac computers is similar to those in PCs, and as such both are vulnerable to many common attacks. If your Mac isn’t up to date with macOS patches, it could be vulnerable. How do you centrally automate these updates to make sure Mac computers are safe and protected?


Fragmentation

Spread across a campus, classrooms and labs need to support many macOS versions. Automating this from a central source—with the ability to select specific macOS versions for each application or classroom—isn’t always easy. However, it can be.


Learning
Curve

In a hybrid environment with a mix of Windows and Mac computers, what drives management: Windows or Mac priorities? Why can’t it be both? What if you could add the same right-click management that Windows devices receive in Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to Mac devices? What if you could do it with a short learning curve, no silos, and the same system administrators?


Not All-in-One

Microsoft SCCM remains a standard for PC management, but what do you use for third-party solutions for Mac management? Using Active Directory and console-based tools for managing macOS like mobile devices is a compromise. Would you manage a Windows PC solely with a limited set of mobile management tools? How do you integrate the Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP) into a Windows-centric management platform for zero-touch enrollment—and then enroll it into Microsoft SCCM?


The
Solution

Thanks to Parallels® Mac Management for Microsoft® SCCM, the West College Scotland IT team is now able to automatically integrate new and existing Mac computers into the company network. Their solutions administrator and his colleagues can install new software packages, updates, and scripts from a central interface. They can also leave the installation of defined applications in the hands of users via a self-service portal.

“…we are now able to administer our entire heterogeneous fleet of computers and the applications used on them in a centralized manner with the aid of one single product, Microsoft SCCM, and a powerful expansion called Parallels Mac Management.” Chris Parker, System Administrator


The
Results

Setting up the Parallels solution went
seamlessly, even though Parallels support was needed now and then. Chris
elaborates: “I had to make a few phone calls, as our specific setup was a
little bit different to the one outlined in the solution’s documentation. But
thanks to the truly excellent support provided by Parallels and its highly
dedicated employees, who were always willing to lend me their time, we quickly
got to grips with smaller problems, such as issues with our WSUS servers during
the installation of updates. I was really impressed by the team at Parallels!”

When asked what he thinks are the biggest advantages of the Parallels solution, one answer springs to mind. “Firstly, I would say that one major benefit is the truly convenient, quick, and simple rollout of software and operating system updates, which means that we can finally implement all the criteria stipulated in the Cyber Essentials issued by the National Cyber Security Centre. On top of that, we are now able to administer our entire heterogeneous fleet of computers and the applications used on them in a centralized manner with Microsoft SCCM and Parallels Mac Management. As we can now efficiently use SCCM to manage virtually all of our clients, we are now saving enormous amounts of time and money, not to mention our nerves!”


More Information

The Parallels team wants to talk to you about Mac endpoints and potential data breach, and how we can help. Parallels Mac Management for SCCM can be demoed and tested in your production or test environment. You can even get a trial in a box for $3.75 per Mac/per month. You can manage your Macs with Microsoft SCCM, where you already have invested IT budget, time and training.

The post Manage Mac in Education with SCCM: A New Approach for Device Management appeared first on Parallels Blog.

Granite schools to offer employees a free health clinic

SALT LAKE CITY — Granite School District is about to be the first district in Utah to offer employees a health clinic with a full range of preventative, wellness, and urgent care — free of charge.

District spokesman Ben Horsley said the service will make Granite stand out to its current and potential employees.

“We think this makes us a destination district,” he said.

The new clinic is on the grounds of Valley Jr. High at 4195 S. 3200 West. It is slated to open this summer.

The district took bids from private companies to run the clinic, choosing a national company called Premise Health.

Along with providing a free benefit to employees, Horsley said the district will save money because outside clinics charge more than the actual cost of services provided.

Horsley said Granite will have no access to employees’ private health records, which will be managed separately by the contractor following health privacy laws.

Board votes to permanently close AISU

MURRAY, Utah — The American International School of Utah will permanently close at the conclusion of this school year.

The school’s board of directors voted unanimously to shut down by August 15, 2019.

A handful of parents and students attended Wednesday’s meeting when the decision was made.

Many cried and hugged each other when they realized the finality of the decision.

“There was all this false hope going around that we would be able to rally the school and stay together,” said AISU student Jonathan Burgess.

Students who attended AISU for the unique learning environment and close-knit community are struggling to come to terms with this outcome.

“What do you do with all those creative kids that think school is a safe space, and you close it down,” Burgess said. “You’re sending all those kids and you’re separating them. There are students who came to school here to get away from the bullying at public schools.”

The school’s executive director, Tasi Young believes the current administration inherited the financial issues from AISU’s original investors.

“The problems we saw today were a result of our school being collateralized for a side venture,” Young said.

The financial woes are so deep, the board could not find a legitimate solution to help the school pay its bills in the future. Students and their families, along with AISU’s staff are feeling the pain of those financial mistakes.

“I don’t know. I truthfully, do not know,” answered Jamie Adamson, a parent of two AISU students, when asked what her family will do next.

The school says it plans to help students and staff find other opportunities for the next school year.

Murray charter school considers closing its doors

MURRAY, Utah – The governing board of a Murray charter school may decide Wednesday whether and when to close their doors.

The Executive Director of the American International School of Utah sent a letter Tuesday with details about the possible closure.

The letter states school leaders met to discuss issues at the school but the letter did not disclose specific details about those issues.

School officials state they have the best interests of the students, families and staff at heart.

There will be a meeting to solicit input from the community at the school at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the music room. The board will meet at 8 p.m. to continue that discussion.

The school is located at 4998 South Galleria Drive in Murray.