May 18th, 2024

Craig Whitehead: Retired teacher looking for efficiency and accountability in bid for spot on school board


By Delon Shurtz on July 17, 2021.

Craig Whitehead is looking to gain a spot on the Lethbridge school board.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Craig Whitehead believes accountability, communication and transparency are cornerstones of the public school system.
Now, the retired teacher is throwing his hat in the ring for trustee for the Lethbridge School Division.
“One of the things I looked at is we have a good system in Lethbridge Public, but we could be a lot better. I think we can become more effective and efficient in our governance model,” said Whitehead, a teacher for 24-and-a-half years in Livingstone Range School Division who was a trustee for almost three years in the Palliser School Division. “The board has lots of policies and (if) you go around to other school divisions, the majority of boards in Alberta have gone to a system where policies are developed by the board and they usually limit them to maybe 20 or 25 policies. Then we create procedures, which are done by the administration, but they must fit into board policies. That way, it makes it more efficient and more effective. The board knows the policies, administration knows what the policies are and fits their procedures to that and then informs the board so the board always knows what’s going on. But when you have so many policies like Lethbridge Public has, you take a lot of time to review those and it doesn’t make for an efficient and effective governance.”
Whitehead pointed to the City of Lethbridge approving a ballot question on a potential Ward system during the Oct. 18 city election.
He believes the Lethbridge School Division should go in the same direction.
“Most of the school boards I know of have a Ward system and it doesn’t always have to conform to the Ward system of a municipality or a city,” he said. “One of things I think that would make a better system is the schools, the public, parents and staff know exactly who the trustee is in that area and you have to be a little more accountable and visible and you also develop better relationships. Having experienced that in Palliser, even though you’re elected by a certain group, you still make decisions based on what’s best for the division. But you know what’s going on in your area a little bit better.”
Throughout his career, Whitehead has taught Grades 1 through 12.
He feels too much politics have crept into the curriculum and schools boards should take more of a leadership role in developing a curriculum that’s not political and one that helps the students.
“We keep adding too much to the curriculum because some parents don’t do something with their children and then we think we have to take over. I’m one that says let the parents teach their children and be parents and let us stick to educating students and watch what we get involved in as educators.”
Whitehead said one of the main reasons he decided to run was the LSD’s boundary changes in January in what he felt was a rushed process.
“It was done in January and you had two weeks to respond and the vote was in February to implement it in September,” he said. “I went through a process when I was a trustee for Palliser with Coaldale, we had two or three meetings before we even thought about how to realign the schools and it was all public. We asked them for their input before we even started. We went back to them and said ‘Here’s what we’ve got and here’s what we’ve learned, what else can we do?'”
Whitehead said a number of schools have the Leader In Me Program in Lethbridge, a program in which he was trained as a facilitator in Livingstone Range School Division.
“One of the things I’ve learned is what we call the Third Alternative out of that program and that means we need to look at win-win situations for the public, the students, the parents and the staff,” he said. “If we don’t have a win-win situation, someone is losing and, to me, that’s inefficient. We need to find out ways to find out how we can have win-win in all of our decisions.”
Now a retired teacher, Whitehead said he strongly believes in the importance of public education and doesn’t want to see boards have to give up more to the provincial government.
“We need to make sure we’re effective, efficient, we’re transparent and accountable to the public.”

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