New campaign takes on class size and complexity

November 7, 2017
Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

Teachers urged to share their stories

Class size and complexity is still a very real issue in Alberta, and provincial politicians need to hear teachers’ stories.

That’s the message behind a new postcard campaign being rolled out by the Alberta Teachers’ Association. The campaign encourages teachers to fill in a postcard with their class size and other details and share it with their local MLA.

“If you believe your class sizes are unreasonable, then we need to have that story shared,” said ATA president Greg Jeffery.

The idea for the campaign emerged from reports from numerous ATA district representatives that large class
sizes continue to be a problem. Some high school teachers are reporting class sizes in excess of 40 students for core subjects like math and English, Jeffery said.

The Association would like to see the government take action that moves class sizes toward the targets that were set by Alberta's Commission on Learning in 2003, Jeffery said. He added that the timing of the campaign is important, as the provincial budget cycle is just beginning.

“If it doesn’t come out now, we would miss the budget cycle and this would be put on hold for another entire year,” he said.

The postcards are available through the Association and its locals. Local presidents were introduced to the initiative during a meeting in Edmonton on Oct. 28.

“It’s a great idea, simple, straightforward, gets the point across,” said Tom Janzen, president of Three Drums of Wheat Local No. 20.

He said that, like many teachers, he spends a lot of his time on a small number of students who need more attention.

“I’m always focusing on a few kids in a class that big. There’s a lot of kids that aren’t getting the attention they could use,” Janzen said.

“Every student can benefit from that one-on-one time with their teacher but when you’re focused on five kids with codes and the students that don’t speak English, you’re getting pulled in lots of different directions.”

Prairie Rose local president Stuart Shigehiro agreed.

“The larger it gets, the more distracted students become and that impacts the one-on-one time,” he said. “We need funding from government.”