EDMONTON - “Today’s charter school expansion announcement from the UCP government is just the latest example of their destructive attacks on public education in Alberta,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive DIrector of Public Interest Alberta. “They say this expansion is ‘enhancing choice’ and ‘innovation,’ yet all advocates of public education know this to be ideological spin. Every dollar that goes into charter school expansion is a dollar taken out of the public system.”
“When the UCP talks about the “right to choose” by funding charter school expansion, whose ‘choice’ are they talking about?” said Lafortune. “It is not the ‘choice’ of Alberta families who can’t access high-quality education at their neighbourhood school because of increasingly underfunded classrooms. ”
Alberta is currently the only Canadian province to adopt the American-style charter school system. The $72 million, three-year capital and operations investment into charter schools is desperately needed elsewhere in the public system to address infrastructure retrofits, overcrowded classrooms, and staffing shortfalls. There are almost 1000 fewer teachers in the province now as compared to when the UCP took control of the Legislature in 2019.
“The public education system in Alberta is world-class, but it’s suffered for years under the UCP government,” said Lafortune. “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.”
“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,” added Lafortune. “Education is a universal need and it should be refocused as a universally accessible public good.”