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Specific Goals

Protect publicly-funded Catholic education

Preserving the right to Publicly Funded Catholic Education is my top priority!

If we look at the political landscape, we see the School Act being reviewed.  The Minister has asked for input from Albertans.  Several groups have indicated they believe we should have one Public School Board, and that Catholic Education could be a program of choice within a public Board.  Catholic Schools are far more than a Program.  Catholic schools are places where faith permeates everything we do.   Trustees and the entire Catholic Community  must make our voices heard loud and clear and provide our input to the government.  We must make it known that we want Publicly Funded Catholic Education.   We must continue to show why we are unique, and why we are of great benefit not only to Catholics, but to all Albertans because of the results we achieve.  Whether it is early learning, inclusive education, high school completion rates, variety of programing, or academic achievement we are leaders. With unprecedented growth, the numbers show Albertans want Publicly Funded Catholic Education; see these numbers here! This is what we need to talk about at every opportunity.

When false information hit the media and Catholic Education was being attacked on Ryan Jespersen’s radio show, I called Ryan Jespersen and did an interview to clarify the information and defend Catholic Education!  I have always been, and will always be, a staunch defender of Catholic Education.

Expanding franchise to all ECSD parents

Edmonton Catholic is one of the fastest growing school districts in Alberta and immigrant families account for a large percentage of that growth. I have recently tabled a motion that would give immigrants to right to vote in municipal elections. I started thinking of all the hundreds of doors I’ve knocked on, and how many people have had kids in the system from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and are still waiting for their Canadian citizenship, but have been landed immigrants for four or five years and have never been able to vote for the trustee that represents their child. 

Aboriginal Issues in Education

You can read here a motion regarding FNMI students that I introduced this past term and will continue to pursue. You can also download it here.

Four Year Pathway to an Alberta High School Diploma

You can read here a motion from last term's Chair, Laura Thibert, that I endorsed, believe in, and will see through. You can also download it here.

The New Curriculum

Many have asked recently about the governments proposed new curriculum.  Here is one of my responses to a recent email inquiry:

Dear ________,


Myself and my family are doing well.  I hope you and your family are also doing well.  We have all been through a lot this past 18 months.


I believe much work must be done on the curriculum before it is ready to be implemented.  As you may or may not know Edmonton Catholic Schools has done a complete review and created a lengthy document detailing needed changes to the draft curriculum.  


Through my work as a Trustee on the ECSD Board and a Director on the Alberta School Boards Association I will work diligently to lobby for changes to the draft curriculum and the needed supports for any new curriculum to be piloted/rolled out.   The changes suggested by ECSD can be found on the district website, and I have attached for your convenience a copy of the motion passed unanimously at the May 3. 2021 Public Board meeting and the supporting background material.


If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to call me at any time.



Debbie Engel

Here is the motion referenced above:


EIGHT CHARACTERS OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION . . . Community • Hospitality • Justice • Tradition • Sacramentality • Humanness • Rationality • Spirituality



Special Public Board Meeting 2.1 Date: May 3, 2021 To: Board of Trustees From: Robert Martin Chief Superintendent Originators: Corine Gannon, Superintendent Learning Services Nicole Lafreniere, Director Curriculum and Professional Learning


Re: Edmonton Catholic Schools’ Response to Alberta Education’s Draft Curriculum K-6



There is no question that system leaders, administrators, and teachers want to be successful during any implementation process in order to provide the best possible education for our students. In Edmonton Catholic Schools, we recognize that many Alberta curricula have not been updated in several years. We embrace the opportunity to participate in curriculum updates so we can best prepare our students for their futures. Simultaneously, all stakeholders need to feel confident in the content and delivery of any curricula presented to students.


To that end, the Administration of Edmonton Catholic Schools undertook a comprehensive review of the Draft K-6 Curriculum to form our own expert opinion of the document and its potential for pilot in the 2021-22 school year and to provide informed feedback to Alberta Education. The following engagement opportunities within our Division were held in order to facilitate a systematic review:


Universal Survey – This was an opportunity for all teachers and administrators to have a voice in the draft curriculum.


Focus Groups – We had several teacher focus groups as part of our review of the new curriculum. Consultants facilitated these groups. The different teacher focus groups were as follows:


Subject Area Focus Groups (8 groups) – These groups of teachers examined the draft curriculum in one subject area for every grade, K-6, to look at the continuum of outcomes. There was also consideration for how grade 7-12 could be impacted. These groups included preK – Grade 12 teachers.


Grade Level Focus Groups (7 groups) – These groups of teachers examined the curriculum for one specific grade. Those teachers needed to be currently teaching at that grade level.


Equity & Diversity Focus Group (1 group) – This group of teachers examined the curriculum to ensure it is representative of all students and examined topics and issues from multiple perspectives. This teacher group included teachers from preK – Grade 12.


Inclusive Education Focus Group (1 group)- This group of teachers examined the curriculum to ensure it provides meaningful and relevant learning experiences for students with disabilities. This group included teachers from preK – Grade 12.


At this point in time, given the details embodied within our report, and taking into account the voices of our stakeholders, we believe that the conditions have not been met for a quality piloting process. Therefore, Edmonton Catholic Schools will not be piloting the draft curriculum in the 2021-22 school year. This decision is based upon the voices of more than one thousand teachers with various formats for engagement, as well as our curriculum experts and Division leaders.


Finally, and of equal importance, is the fact that the pandemic echo will be long and far-reaching. Our students and staff have been deeply impacted by the ongoing disruptions to learning and the mental health impacts for the past year. Our focus for the upcoming year will be on addressing learning opportunities that have been missed and/or interrupted this year, nurturing positive mental health, and ensuring that the foundations of numeracy and literacy are built and re-built.


This report will be forwarded to the Ministry so that the expert voices of our Division’s teachers, consultants, and administrators can be used to shape a vibrant and engaging curriculum for all students in the province.



1.  That the Board of Trustees writes a letter to Minister LaGrange advocating for the incorporation of the recommendations of the report Edmonton Catholic Schools’ Response to Alberta Education’s Draft Curriculum K-6 into revisions of the draft curriculum as well as continuing the involvement of our Division in further developing a vibrant, comprehensive and engaging curriculum for all students in the province.


2.  That based on the evidence provided in the Edmonton Catholic Schools’ Response to Alberta Education’s Draft Curriculum K-6, the Board determines that the following Quality Indicators have been met as per Board Policy 12-Appendix B, relative to the current evaluation period:

   QI 7.2 Provides support to the Board re: advocacy efforts on behalf of the Division.

   QI 7.4 Keeps the Board informed about Division operations which may reflect on the Board.

   QI 7.6 Interacts with the Board in an open, honest, proactive and professional manner.

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