In the lead up to an anticipated provincial election, the ATA News is tracking news coverage related to education from the campaign trail. The following excerpts, slightly modified to fit this context, are from stories that made headlines in late January and early February.
UCP Leader Jason Kenney pledges curriculum revamp
Jason Kenney says if his United Conservative party wins power, it will retool the education system to make it practical and adaptable for the modern, digital age. And he says anything deemed NDP ideology or worldview that is stitched into the government’s current curriculum review will be on the scrap heap.
“We will end the disaster of discovery math and restore tested teaching methods so that young Albertans are equipped for a digital economy,” Kenney told party supporters in a speech in Edmonton on February 16.
He reiterated earlier promises to expand school choice for parents, and stressed that the current K–12 curriculum review being undertaken by Premier Rachel Notley’s government needs to stick to basics.
Globalnews.ca, Feb. 17
Eggen says UCP plan to scrap curriculum ‘outrageous’
Education Minister David Eggen is calling Jason Kenney’s plan to stop his government’s school curriculum revamp outrageous, dishonest and a political ploy to score points with his supporters.
“Jason Kenney is willing to stoop very low to quite honestly be dishonest about what’s going on in our curriculum process for the sake of scoring cheap political points,” Eggen said, noting that thousands of people have worked on the update.
At a news conference on February 17, Kenney used softer language, saying that he is proposing to “pause” curriculum development and do more consultation with parents and subject experts.
“We agree with the NDP. The curriculum does need to be updated and modernized,” Kenney said. “There may be many things that they’ve produced, which a future government will choose to retain. We don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater but we certainly do need to get much stronger results in areas like math, reading, and I believe, a more balanced approach to social studies.”
CBC News, Feb. 17
Packed like sardines: Alberta teachers asking for classroom size support
The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) is taking a creative approach to a serious concern facing Alberta teachers: the size of classes.
They’ve printed 400,000 interactive cards that compare classrooms to cans of sardines, and the ingredients include students crammed into rooms with classroom sizes increasing as a result of budget cuts.
ATA resident Greg Jeffery says class sizes are larger than they were in 2001.
“We made some progress in reducing class size until about 2009 when the government of the day took away the board’s requirement to report on how they use the class size–initiative funding.”
He continues to say that they want to educate the parties about the nature of the problem and find out what their solutions are.
City News Edmonton, Feb. 14
Kenney defends proposed government spending freeze under UCP
United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney defended a proposal to freeze government spending until the budget was balanced, days after Premier Rachel Notley suggested it would lead to Ralph Klein-style cuts.
Klein’s legacy is debated from both ends of the political spectrum. The former premier presided over budgetary surpluses that his supporters say were a result of cutting taxes and privatizing some services.
But in a January speech in Edmonton, Notley said Klein cut thousands of public sector jobs, with lasting impacts on health and education services, to eliminate the deficit. Kenney’s proposal to freeze government spending would similarly require “reckless cuts,” she said.
Kenney fired back on Saturday. “I’ll tell you what’s reckless, driving us towards a $100 billion debt,” he said.
CBC News, Jan. 26