EDMONTON - As Albertans prepare for a pivotal provincial election, progressive advocacy organization Public Interest Alberta joined leaders, parents, students, workers and experts in public education to release its Priorities for Change in Public Education – a blueprint for public education in Alberta.
“Our educational system has been under attack from successive governments who have starved the system of vital funding, compromising the quality of public education in Alberta” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “We have a chance to reverse course to fix the urgent issues plaguing the system. All kids in Alberta have a right to a world-class education. Investing in public education is an investment in an Alberta for all.”
“Teachers want the best for their students but for the past four years we’ve been under attack,” said Heather Quinn, President of the Edmonton Public Teachers, Local 37 of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “Teachers are between a rock and a hard place: from being forced to pilot a deeply-flawed curriculum without adequate supports to implement it to managing massively overcrowded classrooms with increasingly complex needs. This is an unacceptable way to treat teachers and this election we’re going to stand up for teachers and for public education.”
“The curriculum revision has been a national embarrassment for Alberta,” said Dr. Carla Peck, Professor of Social Studies Education and curriculum expert. “The process was fundamentally flawed from the beginning. This curriculum should never have seen a classroom given the serious issues that have been raised over and over again by teachers, community stakeholders, and curriculum experts. The provincial government must begin anew with proper consultation and evidence-based understandings of how students learn.”
“In the past four years in particular, the provincial government has undercut the K-12 system using the well-worn playbook of austerity: cut funding so that it doesn’t function, and then introduce privatized solutions like charter schools as the only option to solve for the manufactured problem,” said Wing Li, Communications Director for Support our Students. “We must end the failed charter school experiment. And we must redirect private school funding back into the public system.”
“Alberta students are highly diverse in their needs,” said Colleen Nash, front-line education worker and Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Alberta. “We need to ensure that all students have what they need to succeed, and that means investing properly in the educational assistants and other specialized personnel to ensure equity in outcomes for high-needs students, and for all students to gain the highest quality education.”
“Provincial cuts are deeply affecting my and my classmates’ experience as students,” said Callum LaRoi, a grade 12 student in Edmonton. “I have 40 other kids in one of my classes. Some of my classmates are struggling to afford the fees for extracurriculars. Students need more support from the province.”
“The issues in education are connected to broader issues in our communities,” said Lafortune. “Public education is a cornerstone of our public institutions that all Albertans need and rely on. Albertans deserve better than the cuts, chaos and privatization that has characterized the past four years under this current government. We are proud to stand with teachers, workers, parents, students and experts, working together to demand an Alberta for all.”
Public Interest Alberta will be releasing a series of Priorities for Change in their action areas in the coming weeks.