This... from ATA President Greg Jeffery

March 13, 2018
Greg Jeffery

But I’m not political …

It was a very interesting convention season for me as I travelled to all 10 conventions across the province. While it was not the first time for me to do so, it was my first time as president and so there were different things that I had to accomplish along the road.

In addition to delivering my “Ahead by a Century” presentation at each of the conventions, I also responded to a number of media questions, many of which revolved around things happening at our conventions.

Here is where I’ll tie things in with the title. It seems to me, and many others around Barnett House, that flagship professional development activities were being used in an attempt to score political points. Take, for example, United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney’s comments on Twitter about David Suzuki speaking at the Calgary city convention.

“How does listening to this kind of political rant constitute ‘professional’ development for teachers? Are we supposed to believe that those who gave Suzuki a standing ovation don’t bring this left wing dogma into the classroom?”

Dr Suzuki has spoken at our conventions in the past and not a peep was heard, but this time there was this huge squawk.

Before this uproar had completely died down, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) ignited a lobby to protest Kris Wells’s appearance at the Palliser convention. This campaign resulted in a flood of emails to my inbox from people who, for the most part, simply copied and pasted the inflammatory and misleading critiques posted by the PCE.

And yet, at the same time, the minister of education used his chance to speak to conventions to ask teachers whether they’d rather bargain with his government or Kenney’s.

This is a level of politicization that has previously be unheard of at our conventions. It seems that education may become a battleground in the next provincial election, which is still more than a year away.

We as teachers need to be involved. The ATA is non-partisan, but we encourage our members to get involved with the party of their choice and to support public education in our province. Clearly others are engaging already, so why not us? ❚

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