Alberta: threat of more education cuts galvanizes resistance
Parents, teachers and trustees join forces.
September 21, 2009 — Past cuts to education funding and the damage done have galvanized three provincial organizations to take action together.
Responding to the threat that the Alberta government may cut $400 million from education next year on top of the $80 million in cuts already announced, the Alberta School Councils Association (ASCA), representing parents, the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA), representing the province's school trustees, and the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) will launch a joint campaign to raise awareness of the threat to education among the public and to encourage Albertans to raise their concerns with provincial politicians.
The three organizations will be sponsoring an intensive television and radio campaign highlighting the effect that a reduction in education funding would have in the classroom. The cost of the campaign will be largely borne by the ATA but, as ATA President Carol Henderson observes, "The participation of our two partners is critical; our work together will show the government and the citizens of Alberta the depth and breadth of our shared concern for the future of public education in this province."
The advertising campaign is set to begin in mid-October, a critical point in the government's decision-making cycle. The legislature will be back in session and, behind the scenes, officials will be assembling budget and business-plan proposals for consideration by their political masters. "If we want to make a real difference, then we cannot wait for the budget to be handed down in the spring," says Henderson. "Parents, teachers and trustees must act now to make their message heard."
The ATA president hopes that the three education partners can still stop the cuts. As evidence, she points to the partners' successful efforts in the past to restore funding for kindergarten and to replace a performance pay proposal with AISI, the internationally recognized Alberta Initiative for School Improvement. "We have moved this government before and we can do it again," she says.
The three partners have a shared understanding of the importance of education, Henderson says. "Alberta is a world leader in education because the province has made sensible investments in our schools, and it is exactly this type of investment that will equip Albertans to prosper even though the future right now may appear uncertain."
The partners share another thing: a memory of the past: "We all lived through a decade of cuts and underfunding beginning in 1992 and saw the damage donewe are all determined not to relive that experience."
Links and sources
Alberta Teachers' Association website
Posted: September 26, 2009
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