Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Know Your Trustee Website

I, along with my colleagues and many members of the media, received the following email yesterday:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KnowYourTrustee.ComEdmonton, AB (2009/10/7) Information about the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) can be difficult to find and understand. A new independently published website, knowyourtrustee.com, is now available that promotes accountability by providing quick access to public information about the EPSB. The website has been started by including information on trustee requests for information and trustee-initiated motions. The website allows one to view motions that were approved, defeated or referred for in camera discussion.Easy to find and clearly presented information is essential for the residents of Edmonton to participate in shaping the future of education and assuring that trustees reflect the values of the community when providing leadership to the Edmonton Public School district.-30-http://knowyourtrustee.com/

Contact: Dale HudjikEmail: dale.hudjik@gmail.comTelephone: 780-904-6081

I have visited the site and of course, I support increased transparency. This site certainly provides information that would be difficult to easily access, unless you were willing to attend every board meeting (and not too many have that fortitude!). However, I would like to add the following caveat--- notices of motion and requests for information are only two "measures" of a trustee's activities. Some trustees are very curious and, perhaps due to inexperience, have a lot of questions (like me!). Other trustees may already possess a base of knowledge and do not feel the need to put as many requests for information forward. Some trustees prefer to conduct their inquiries or encourage the board to move in a certain direction through other (less public) means; their contribution may not be as readily understood, but is certainly known by the trustees and administrators who work with them closely. Some trustees would prefer to be measured by the achievement of the board as a whole (i.e. accomplishing district priorities or strategic plan objectives) rather than through individual actions or initiatives.

All and all, I applaud the initiative of Mr. Hudjik and his efforts to illuminate the work of trustees and increase transparency. A better informed citizenry is, absolutely, in the best interests of everyone.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

While context certainly is important when looking at statistics, I think the quality and nature of requests for information from the relatively newer trustees is very high and has added to public understanding of implications and rationale of various policy and implementation of policy. Thanks for making these issues more transparent. Therefore I question long standing trustees who have apparently lost their curiousity (or prefer to find out through internal sources thus lacking the public transparency effect) about what is going on in the District and rarely make requests for information.

Sue Huff said...

FIRST- MY CAVEAT- I do not want my decision to post the previous comment to be interpreted to mean that I am criticizing my fellow colleagues or their motivations. That would be unprofessional and clearly against our trustee protocols. To be fair, several things may motivate a lack of requests on an individual trustee's part and you would be best to ask the trustee for their explanation- it is always dangerous to ascribe motive before asking. However, "Anonymous" makes a good point.( I would prefer you use your name, so that I can not be accused of posting comments to my own blog!) The point is: that when things are not done publicly, transparency and the public's understanding of our work is diminished. Fostering a culture of doing our work publicly is, I believe, important and will require a shift of practice. I think the City of Edmonton is very successful in this regard- perhaps we can learn from them.