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Calgary charter school operators happy with provincial investment, while some are concerned public education suffers – CTV News Calgary

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As part of Alberta’s 2022 budget, the province is spending nearly $75 million to build on Alberta public charter and collegiate schools over the next three years. While this is welcome news for some Calgary parents and charter school operators, there’s concern that public education is being overlooked.

Education Minister Adriana Lagrange said the $47 million in capital spending and $25 million will be used to support leases and facility improvements “so existing public charter schools can grow and new public charter schools have the spaces they need to deliver the educational services to the students that want them,” she said from Edmonton Tuesday.

A majority of Calgary charter schools operate out of former public school buildings.

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Some Calgary parents welcomed  the investment.

“There’s no tuition, they accept pretty much anybody as long as the funding’s there for them. And it is great, great quality,” said Stephen Miles, whose daughter attends Foundations for the Future Charter Academy.

The province says public charter schools give parents more choice and when asked if Alberta parents were choosing alternative or at-home education because they are saying no to the “wokeness” of public education, Premier Jason Kenney said there’s “probably some of that.”

He later added “let me be clear, I think we have a great education system right across the board. We have so many dedicated teachers. All together this is one of the reasons that pluralism in education makes sense.

Premier Kenney left open the possibility Tuesday that the province might consider easing restrictions on indoor social gatherings for the holidays

“Some parents may not like things that are going on at their local public school,” Kenney added, “and they have options if that’s the case.”

LONG HISTORY OF CHOICE IN EDUCATION

Advocates for the charter school system say that the element of choice in education has a long history.

“The very first (Alberta) schools were Catholic schools, we added francophone schools after public schools then 27 years ago we added charter schools. It’s just one more excellent choice,” said Lynn Paradis, president of the Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools.

Leaders from Support Our Students, an education advocacy group, say that funding and support should go to the public education system.

“Alberta is the only province in Canada with charter schools but it is an American import system,” said Medeana Moussa, executive director of Support our Students.

“This is the privatization of public education in real time. Charter schools are a pathway to privatization. It is money going to a few at the expense of the many,” she added.

Public Interest Alberta agrees, saying in a statement: “The public education system in Alberta is world-class, but it’s suffered for years under the UCP government. Rather than invest into the system to match inflation and student population growth and reinvest to rectify the damage done by previous budget cuts, they have continued this failed experiment in privatization by stealth,” said executive director Bradley Lafortune.

He later added “all advocates of public education must reject the term ‘school choice’ and recognize it for what it really is: a market agenda that further entrenches two-tiered, Americanized education for Alberta’s students.”

Paradis refuted this saying “we are absolutely very different from U.S. charter schools and that myth we’d really like to bust.”

NEED SUPPORT

An education expert from the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary said Alberta’s charter schools are in need of support.

“There’s some funding (needs that are) necessary (and) that has not gone in. If you visit the charter system, you’ll understand they have been the ‘poor boy’ of schooling in Alberta. So (the additional funding announcement) policy evens the playing field,” said associate professor Eugene Kowch.

“It really is about community involvement, community governance and informed choice as an alternative to push forward innovation and these charter systems have to report to the minister using good research once a year, (while) the public school does not.”

One parent who is also the board chair at Foundations for the Future Charter Academy said the funding will help admit students with special needs who were otherwise sent to the public school system.

“We are now finally in a position after over a decade of having out students be recognized they require the same support as students in every other public system,” said Jeff Wilson.

The Alberta Teachers Association released a statement calling the government investment into charter schools “inequitable” and “unjustified.”

In a majority of cases, charter school teachers are not part of the teachers’ union and are not subject to their collective bargaining nor pay union dues.

Kowch says the funding represents 1.2 per cent of Alberta’s education budget and 1.5 per cent of Alberta students. An estimated 10,000 attend charter or collegiate schools.

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OMERS names capital markets head as next chief investment officer – The Globe and Mail

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Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has named capital markets head Ralph Berg as its next chief investment officer, succeeding Satish Rai.

Mr. Berg starts as CIO on April 1 after two years as global head of OMERS Capital Markets, where he oversaw the public-market investments that make up more than half of investment assets at the pension plan.

In April, Mr. Rai will move to an advisory role and plans to retire from OMERS late in 2024. He has been CIO since 2018 and also led OMERS’ capital markets arm during his eight years at the pension plan, while helping guide its expansion into Asian markets. He was previously CIO at TD Asset Management, a division of Toronto-Dominion Bank.

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Mr. Berg has been at OMERS since 2013. He joined the pension plan as global head of its infrastructure arm after a career in banking at Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG.

“Ralph is a proven investor and a seasoned executive,” said OMERS chief executive officer Blake Hutcheson, in a news release.

Mr. Berg’s successor as head of capital markets has yet to be announced.

OMERS had $119.5-billion of assets as of June 30 last year. Over Mr. Rai’s tenure as CIO, it has shifted more of its assets from public to private markets, which helped OMERS post steady results in the first half of last year, losing only 0.4 per cent despite difficult market conditions.

That came after two volatile years in the COVID-19 pandemic that included an 11.4-per-cent loss in 2020 – when OMERS marked down real estate and private equity holdings that were affected by strict public health measures – and a rebound in 2021 that saw the plan’s assets gain 15.7-per-cent.

As Mr. Rai prepares to step down, Mr. Hutcheson said: “I look forward to his continued commitment and counsel” in his advisory role.

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Ark Invest Cathie Wood: artificial intelligence chatGPT – CNBC

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Forget ChatGPT — an AI-driven investment fund powered by IBM's Watson supercomputer is quietly beating the market by nearly 100% – Yahoo Canada Finance

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The Watson-powered ETF is beating a total market fund by nearly 100%.PhonlamaiPhoto/Getty Images

  • While the language bot ChatGPT has gone viral, a Watson-powered ETF is making nearly double the returns of the broader market.

  • The AI Powered Equity ETF is up 10.4% in 2023, whereas the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index is up 5.67%.

  • IBM’s Watson supercomputer helps balance the fund’s portfolio holdings.

The popular language bot ChatGPT has shown a humanlike ability to render articles, emails, and even dating-app messages. But if you ask it to generate a portfolio that can beat the market, it spits out boilerplate information and reminds you it doesn’t have access to live stock data.

Yet, the $102 million AI Powered Equity ETF (AIEQ), which launched in 2017, has been quietly fulfilling that request so far this year. Issued by ETF Managers Group in partnership with the fintech firm Equbot, the fund leans on IBM’s Watson supercomputer to balance its portfolio.

That 114-holding portfolio is up 10.4% so far in 2023, while the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF is up 5% over the same stretch.

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Still, as ETF.com highlighted, the former is actively managed, and thus more expensive than the benchmark fund, cutting into actual returns to investors. The AI-powered ETF charges 0.75%, whereas Vanguard’s costs 0.03%. Both funds include JPMorgan and UnitedHealth Group in their top-10 holdings.

Chris Natividad, the chief investment officer of Equbot, said the Watson-powered fund can look beyond standard market data and cull information from tweets and earnings calls, according to ETF.com.

“We’re focused on investment related data, looking at how these different types of signals impact security practices across different time horizons,” Natividad said, per ETF.com.

“The best days of the fund are still ahead of it,” he added. “And just as you’ll see ChatGPT’s responses change and evolve with time and data, so will our fund.”

Meanwhile, ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, this month secured a $10 billion investment from Microsoft this month, and the technology continues to make waves across sectors.

Online media outlet BuzzFeed announced last week it plans to leverage the technology to create content, educators are warning about the bot’s repercussions in schools, and chipmakers are poised to cash in.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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