ATA Joins Parent Group to Stand Up For Education
New campaign brings parents and teachers together to ensure no student is left behind.
The Alberta government’s reckless changes to public education are putting our children’s future at risk.
That’s the message coming out of a new campaign launched jointly by the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and the Alberta School Councils’ Association (ASCA).
The campaign responds to a number of threats facing Alberta’s world-class public education system, from funding cuts, to larger class sizes, and the problematic draft curriculum. The campaign is building awareness and support for education by building an alliance of parents and teachers who are standing up and fighting back for Alberta’s children and their futures.
With increasing funding cuts, the government is leaving school boards to make hard choices while costs rise. The impact is severe, including teaching positions and education support workers being cut, the elimination of programs and supports for students, deterioration of school buildings, and out-of-date resources.
The government has stopped tracking and reporting on class sizes, resulting in classes growing larger with increasing numbers of students with specialized learning needs and second language learners. As teachers try to manage more students with higher needs, every child is left at a disadvantage, with a disproportionate impact on kids who are vulnerable.
The government is making dangerous changes to the K–6 curriculum. The draft curriculum leaves out important lessons in history, wellness, and science. It includes Indigenous content that is not authentic, while reducing perspectives of women, LGBTQ2S+ and francophone Albertans. The overloaded draft curriculum includes irrelevant information and learning outcomes that lack high academic standards for younger children. The drafting of the curriculum has largely been political. Teachers were not included in meaningful ways. Politicians and the premier’s friends drafted it—teachers and curriculum experts were not appropriately consulted or asked for feedback. In all, 95 percent of school districts have refused to pilot it. Learn more about the problematic draft curriculum: www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Research/COOR-184%20Curriculum%20Response%20Report.pdf.
“These changes cannot stand,” says ATA president Jason Schilling. “As teachers, we know funding cuts, class sizes and these changes to the curriculum can be dangerous.”
Schilling says the consequences can be severe: students will experience learning gaps in important subjects while receiving an overload of irrelevant and inappropriate information. Funding and classroom issues mean a lack of individual time with teachers, the loss of special education supports and reduced access to programs.
As a parent, ASCA president Brandi Rai is also concerned.
“These children are the future leaders of our province—the decisions we make about public education now will affect all of us.”
The ATA’s “Stand for Education” campaign highlights these issues and encourages supporters to take action.
The campaign launched with a video that focuses on children’s experiences through the challenges of these attacks on education. The impactful spot features metaphors grounded in truth—school hallway lights dramatically turning off and books slamming shut as students try to read them—to convey the message of children being left behind. The video ends with a rallying call for the viewer to join parents, teachers and school boards to stand up for public education. As of early November 2021, the ad received over 800 000 views on social media. The “Stand for Education” video can be found here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE30eDepTFQ.
In addition to this ad, the ATA has produced a series of videos featuring personal and poignant interviews from teachers and parents. These videos focus on their lived experiences and reflect the importance of public education and the impact these drastic changes will have.
Each video focuses on a different side of the story: students’ futures in jeopardy, teachers not being consulted in the curriculum drafting process and the impact on the future of Alberta. These videos can be found at Stand For Education | Real Stories – YouTube.
“This campaign is the first step toward our goal of building pressure for government decisions that are pro-public education,” says Schilling. “We are fighting to ensure the government understands that this is a big issue for Albertans.”
Schilling says the campaign is turning up the pressure on MLAs and encouraging them to push back against the draft curriculum, funding cuts and increasing class sizes. He hopes they might begin speaking up in their caucus and the legislature in support of public education.
“Teachers and parents will always put kids first,” Schilling says. “Through the pandemic, we have been working together to ensure students continue to have the best opportunities to learn and be safe doing so. Now we are coming together once again to fight for their education, their opportunities and their futures.”
How to stand up
To this date, 18,968 signed the open letter, 800,000+ watched the videos, and 22,519 have taken action so far.
The campaign has also received widespread media attention from the Edmonton Journal, CityNews 660, the Calgary Herald, CTV News Edmonton and Calgary and the CBC. All this to say, people are clearly enraged at the Alberta government’s attacks on public education.
For more information and to sign the open letter to your MLA, go to www.StandForEducation.ca.