Public Interest Alberta has joined parents, students, workers and experts to release its a blueprint for public education in Alberta in advance of the provincial election.
The plan Priorities for Change in Public Education: K-12 Education focuses on: class size, composition and classroom learning conditions; strengthening the public education under democratically elected school boards by reversing privatization in education; curriculum and assessment issues; supporting students and their learning; and early learning, children and poverty.
“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,” said Bradley Lafortune, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, in a statement.
Heather Quinn, president of the Edmonton Public Teachers, Local 37 of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said teachers want the best for their students but for the past four years they’ve been under attack.
“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,” Quinn said.
Dr. Carla Peck, professor of social studies education and curriculum expert, said the curriculum revision has been a national embarrassment.
“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,” Peck said.
Wing Li, communications director for Support our Students said funding for private schools must be redirected back into the public system.
“In the past four years in particular, the provincial government has undercut the K t0 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,” Li said.
Colleen Nash, front-line education worker and secretary-treasurer of CUPE Alberta, said students are highly diverse in their needs which means investing properly in the educational assistants and other specialized personnel to ensure equity in outcomes.