Editorial: My Christmas gift list

December 5, 2017
Jonathan Teghtmeyer, ATA News Editor-in-Chief

Dear Santa,

I’m super excited for Christmas and can’t wait for your arrival. Our tree is up and the house is decorated. The stockings are hung by the chimney, with care of course. I am just hopeful for peace, health and happiness, so please don’t worry about bringing me anything. But I have some ideas for stuff that you could bring for some of my friends. I’ve been very good this year, so if you can, bring these gifts to help with my gift of happiness.

The premier is failing to acknowledge that the belt on our finances is already cinched tight.

 

Education Minister David Eggen
I expect the minister and his MLA colleagues are receiving a lot of #MyClassSizeIs cards. The class-size averages that the government is reporting clearly don’t capture the extent to which class size and composition has become an issue in Alberta schools. A good statistics calculator should help him to sort through all of the additional data.

Premier Rachel Notley
Please bring Premier Notley an awl. She recently said that the next budget would include “compassionate belt tightening,” but the premier is failing to acknowledge that the belt on our finances is already cinched tight. There is lots of length left on the belt, but the government refuses to punch holes into the end of it — tax changes could increase revenue by $9 billion while still maintaining the lowest tax rates in the country.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci
And on that note, I hope that Santa will bring Minister Ceci a $60 barrel of oil. Not that we should have to rely on higher oil prices to fund essentials like public education, but it would help ease the pressure while the minister transitions us away from reliance on oil and gas revenues.

UCP education critic Mark Smith
I like Mark Smith. He is a smart man who was clearly a good and committed teacher. As long as he continues to view education based on his experiences in the classroom he should be a strong advocate for students, teachers and public education. A rear-view mirror will help him recall where he came from.

UCP leader Jason Kenney
Speaking of strong advocates, Jason Kenney has some strong views on education — including curriculum and the work of the Association. Unfortunately, I’m worried that he might be listening to the wrong people on education and they’re feeding him some bad information. Santa, please bring Jason Kenney some strong advisors to help him better understand the realities of Alberta’s education system.

Students in Alberta’s GSAs
It has been an interesting fall for students who participate in gay–straight alliances in schools or are thinking about joining. Much has been said about GSAs, and too much of it has not been accurate. The whole matter has been way overpoliticized. I hope that these students could receive some earmuffs to help drown out some of the silly rhetoric.

Alberta’s Catholic superintendents
This group could really use a public opinion barometer. The contents of their proposal for a Catholic sexual education curriculum were very unpopular and overstepped what most people — many Catholic teachers included — viewed as reasonable. The Association supports Catholic education and Catholic teachers, but problematic stances related to human rights and sex education are undermining public support for Catholic education.

Alberta’s newly elected trustees
Alberta’s education system can be a large and complex system with many players with different roles. New trustees have a lot to learn. Some previously held beliefs about the ATA might not be wholly accurate. A good orientation program could help them gain a better understanding of Alberta’s
teaching profession.

ATA president Greg Jeffery
What do you get the guy who has everything? Greg has really hit the ground running as president. He’s an effective meeting chair, a good advocate for teachers with government and a strong media spokesperson. I hate buying for these people … just get him a gift card, I guess!

Teachers of Alberta
Santa, please bring our teachers a long and restful holiday break. I hope they have lots of time to relax with friends and family so they can come back refreshed and energized in the new year!

Happy holidays, season’s greetings and merry Christmas, everyone! ❚

I welcome your comments — contact me at jonathan.teghtmeyer@ata.ab.ca.