Bill 15’s Big Power Grab—ATA Offers Further Analysis

Release Date 2022 04 06

Bill 15 has three fundamental flaws, says ATA president Jason Schilling after conducting further analysis of the 130-page bill, the Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline) Amendment Act, 2022. The Association was unable to provide detailed analysis of the bill before now because the Association was given no information on the bill in advance of its introduction.

Fundamental Flaw #1: The bill is a massive power grab for the minister and the government. Cabinet hires and fires the commissioner; the minister writes the code of conduct and the Teaching Quality Standard; the minister appoints the hearing panel members and the chairs and vice-chairs. Finally, if the minister doesn’t like the outcome, she simply imposes a new one.

“The design of the entire new system from bottom to top is very susceptible to political influence, and the entire discipline process is at risk of being further politicized. This level of political interference is definitely not in the interests of the public or the profession. This is nothing less than a blatant grab for power.”

ATA President Jason Schilling

Fundamental Flaw #2: Bill 15 completely removes the notion of self-governance for teachers. The commissioner is appointed by cabinet; the hearing committee is appointed by the minister. Teachers are completely excluded from naming those who will adjudicate and govern their profession. No other profession in Alberta has a commissioner to govern the profession.

“Self-regulation is a hallmark of professionalism, so why does the government believe that teachers as professionals are not capable of regulating themselves? They would rather have a political appointee take teachers to task. How can teachers trust the people who appointed Chris Champion to write curriculum?”

ATA President Jason Schilling

Fundamental Flaw #3: The government is adopting the model used only by BC, which has notoriously poor relations with its teachers. The government, as key justification for this bill, has repeatedly said that Alberta is the only province that uses teachers’ unions for regulating the profession. This is not true. However, it is true that a commissioner is used in only one other province: British Columbia.

“We should not be adopting the BC model for public education in Alberta. The culture of professional and labour relations in BC’s public education system is adversarial, lacks trust and is rife with conflict. In Alberta, our education system’s culture is based on collegiality and collaboration—largely because the ATA’s current role requires it to mind the public interest.”

ATA President Jason Schilling

Schilling says there are other flaws in the bill as well, including how the public registry will be used, and unclear and unrealistic expectations about how the transition from old model to new model will occur. Schilling is very concerned that the government seems to be completely unaware of the complexity, difficulty and scope of this work if they think they can have the commissioner’s office ready to take it over in just eight months.

But ultimately, Schilling’s original concerns from last week remain: this bill is being brought forward not because it is what is best for students or public education. Rather, it is a vindictive attack and a sad effort to distract from the government’s infighting and the minister’s own inability to handle the education file.

“If we can’t trust the government to get curriculum right, how can we trust them to get this right?”

ATA President Jason Schilling

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.