Laura Hack sees the role of public school board trustee as a champion for the children.
The Calgary educator is taking a second run at school board trustee for Wards 3 and 4, and she intends to bring clarity and follow-through to the table.
“A lot of trustees will run on platforms when they have no idea what a trustee actually does,” said Hack.
“They can’t fulfill all the promises they’ve made, and then people wonder why things aren’t changing.”
Since running for Ward 3 and 4’s public school trustee in 2017, which went to Althea Adams (by only 532 votes), Hack said her priorities this time around haven’t changed.
“Obviously with the pandemic going on, it’s a very different run this time. But my first priority is still the kids,” Hack said.
“COVID or not, they need someone to speak up for them.”
School board trustees serve as policymakers and liaisons between parents, the school board and the government – and above all else; advocates for the children.
Hack has always had a strong passion for educating, and has striven to cultivate an optimal learning environment both in the classroom, and at home.
After receiving her Bachelor’s of Education from the University of Alberta in 2011, Hack taught math and science until the birth of her first daughter in 2014.
“I’ve been home with my kids since they were born,” said Hack.
“We decided as a family that the best education they can have for the first few years of their life was to be with someone who taught.”
Since then, she has sat on the school council at Coventry Elementary as key communicator, and served as the director of the Northern Hills Community Association.
“I could go back to teaching 42 kids in a classroom, but I want to focus on the system as a whole,” said Hack.
“The biggest impact I can have on my kids, and all kids, is not just in the classroom. It’s leading.”
Education is the key
Having served as both an educator and a parent in the public school system, Hack has first-hand experience with both the cause and the effect of some of the bigger issues affecting both sides.
She would like the see the Calgary Board of Education put more financial focus on children with special needs. They must balance the pupil-to-teacher ratio, as well as provide learning opportunities to help tackle racial, gender and financial status bias within the classroom.
“Kids came with no bias into this world. It’s taught,” she said.
“I want to help either teach or un-teach these biases in a proper setting, and I want my kids to continue that, as well.”
Hack believes much of the bias that exists in the classroom is due to a lack of education. Resolving the issue requires more focus on building educational programs and less on assigning blame.
“I don’t think a lot of the time those biases are meant to be hurtful, or harmful, but they are. We need to provide learning opportunities to correct these biases,” said Hack.
“The theme here is education. Everything can be done through education.”
Communicating the needs of students
According to the 2020-21 budget released last May, the CBE has $1.4 billion dollars to support 128,000 students in over 250 schools. It includes providing training and professional development programs for its teachers.
Hack said trustees don’t control what specifically goes into the school curriculum. They can evaluate where change is needed within the curriculum, and communicate those needs to Alberta Education.
“School board trustees don’t get to control the curriculum as much as other people will tell you. That’s just not our role,” said Hack.
“But we can ensure our teachers are teaching through a lens that is free from bias. It costs the taxpayers no extra money, but a different focus.”
Hack said she’ll be approaching her election campaign, and hopefully her trusteeship, with public engagement as a top priority.
“We’re the lowest on the totem pole coming to the vote. I want to bring visibility to the role,” she said.
“We’re paid like it’s a part-time position, but if you take it seriously, it isn’t. The ones that really make a difference are the ones that make it a full time job.”