Since 'unveiling' the web site a couple of days ago, there has been considerable public interest and support.
The initial news release went out to a couple of hundred media outlooks across the province. My thanks to the people who made this happen. You know who you are.
There was a good story in the Edmonton Journal (here) on Wednesday. On Thursday morning I talked with Danielle Smith about unification, on Calgary 770. Today I did live interviews with two CBC early morning shows -- the Eye Opener in Calgary and Edmonton AM. At noon I did a 30 minute phone-in show on CBC radio Calgary. Also today, I have done an interview with the Red Deer Advocate. There may be something in the paper tomorrow.
The take-away from the media response, and the phone-in program
The reporters are interested. I hope this means they hear unification talked about and know it is a story that deserves attention.
On the phone-in program the callers were about 3 or 4 to 1 (75% - 80%) in favour of unification.
One caller referred to 'research' concluding that private schools consistently perform better than public schools. I responded that I know of no such research, and I invited him to get back to me with detailed information about the research he referenced. This kind of intervention often happens in conversations about important issues. Sometimes the 'research' is simply concocted by one person and then repeated, in ignorance and in good faith, by people whose bias it supports. In this conversation it will be important to call out all claims to research evidence, and validate it (or not). Where there is no good research, we should call for well-qualified people to do it.
One caller, from rural Alberta, expressed support for the local separate school system because it provides a program the corresponding public school jurisdiction does not. I suspect that, on the other hand, the local public school system provides some programs that the separate school system does not. Especially in rural Alberta, two parallel school systems cannot offer as wide a range of programs as they might want to. They are forced to make choices that further fragment the community.
Our web site
The web site is operational, and my sincere thanks to the lady who made it happen. (You know who you are.)
Now, we want suggestions about how to improve it. What particular information would you like to have? How can we support the conversation across the province? Are there broken links? Are there new social media applications that we should be exploring and using?
"Joining the community" and furthering the conversation
Most of the public's direct response has been in the form of people "liking" the Facebook page.
It is important to have people "join the community" on the web site. This provides us with contact information that we can use. These are the people who are more ready to volunteer, and volunteering is important because we want to create a constituency of support.
The whole conversation/campaign is self-organizing. As more people become involved, we will discover new ways of furthering the conversation. We will add new arguments to our part of the conversation. We will gather more and better evidence. We will create the conditions that support 100 or 1000 local conversations, rather than a single province-wide conversation.
Volunteers are beginning to step forward, and we have had two donations. My thanks to you: you know who you are.