EDMONTON - Today, the Alberta NDP announced their plan for investment into public education. Party leader Rachel Notley detailed investments of $700 million over the next four years, as well as hiring 4000 more teachers and 3000 more educational assistants.
“Our public educational system has been badly battered by cuts and privatization over the last four years under the UCP,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We, alongside our allied advocates for public education, are happy to see some focus on teacher recruitment and training, as well as some investment into the support staff who enable all students to thrive. However, as the ANDP announcement stands today, it does not go far enough to address the issues plaguing the public education system.”
“During the announcement, a reporter asked a pointed question about funding to charter and private schools,” said Lafortune. “While Notley said the ANDP’s priority is public education, they will not make changes to the funding for private and charter schools. This is unacceptable. We need a full commitment to totally ending the charter school experiment by bringing those programs into the public system, and we must redirect much-needed funding away from elite private schools and back into the public system.”
“It is wholly inadequate for the ANDP to say on one hand public education will be bolstered while admitting they would continue to hand over public funds to charter and private schools. Without recognizing and acting on the major threat of privatization on education, these small restorations in funding are only minor band-aid solutions. The unchecked growth of charter school expansion and private school subsidies are actively hurting our neighbourhood public schools by siphoning students and resources.” said Wing Li, Director of Communications for Support Our Students Alberta.
“Investment into public education is investment into the future—and education is truly the great equalizer,” said Lafortune. “Albertans deserve a government that will make public education a priority and reverse the damage of draconian cuts. We need to strengthen and protect our K-12 public education system in order to build an Alberta for all.”
In consultation with teachers, parents, students, support staff, and policy experts, Public Interest Alberta has released a priorities document detailing what the government needs to do to invest in public education for an Alberta for all.
In summary, Public Interest Alberta recommends that the government must:
- Commit to systematically increasing funding to reduce class sizes, and to improve learning and teaching conditions over the next four years. The provincial government also needs to embed class size and composition into negotiated collective agreements with teachers and others who work in education.
- Phase out all funding to private schools and homeschooling, and absorb charter schools into the existing public system.
- Abandon the government’s current program of curriculum revision, and begin anew with a curriculum development process based on widespread and inclusive consultation, clear understandings of how students learn, systematic and informed decisions about current and future learning needs, and an implementation plan that has the support of those who will be engaged in its delivery.
- Commit to identify, provide and fully fund all appropriate supports for the learning needs of all students in the form of teacher assistants and other specialized personnel, as well as resources at the classroom, school and system levels over the four-year period of the government’s mandate.
- Expand Alberta’s kindergarten program to include fully funded, full-day kindergarten accessible to all students.
- Commit to building, implementing and funding a comprehensive, high quality early childhood education and care system accessible to all families, regardless of their ability to pay.
- Reinstate and expand the PUF funding.
- Systematically address the needs of children living in poverty through a comprehensive framework to prevent, reduce and ultimately, eliminate poverty.