Alberta Teachers’ Association president Greg Jeffery calls on the government to scale back funding to private schools during a news conference on March 5.
Alberta Teachers’ Association President Greg Jeffery added his voice to a chorus of people calling for a reduction in provincial funding to private schools.
A group of 17 associations, which includes the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta, Progress Alberta, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta, wants the province to reduce its funding of private schools to 50 per cent in the next budget, and send that $30 million in savings to select public, separate and francophone schools that demonstrate the most need.
Speaking at a news conference held at the Public Interest Alberta office in Edmonton on March 5, Jeffery said the current model of 70 per cent funding for private schools is “fundamentally unfair.”
He compared Rundle College, a private high school in Calgary, with Buchanan School, which is public. At Buchanan School a third of students are learning to speak English, and a quarter of students have special needs, Jeffery said. Meanwhile, Rundle College requires $15,000 per year in tuition, accepts only students with high marks on admission tests and boasts of small class sizes.
“Our province’s current funding model chooses to spend that $7 million each year on Rundle College instead of Buchanan,” Jeffery said. “It is the wrong choice.”
He noted that the strength of public education, which includes Catholic and francophone schools, is in its inclusivity.
“As teachers we see the importance of and value in having students from diverse backgrounds learning together. Not just learning content outcomes, but learning how to work together to embrace diversity and to become good global citizens,” he said.
Carolyn Blasetti, executive director of Support Our Students Alberta, said public education includes everyone regardless of faith, ability or socioeconomic status and should be protected.
“We are calling on the Alberta government to focus its efforts and public dollars on public education, reinforcing the principle that public dollars are collected for public use, in service to society at large,” she said.
Alberta provides more public funding for private education than any other province. Quebec provides 60 per cent funding and three other provinces offer 50 per cent. Five provinces in Canada do not provide any public dollars to private schools. ❚