One of my main roles as ATA president is to “make representation,” which translated into everyday English means to attend in-person meetings with the government to express teachers’ views. Such meetings can be initiated by the ATA or by government people. Some are part of a series of regular monthly meetings that I try to maintain with the education minister to discuss ongoing issues. Others are one-offs to address a specific topic.
Right now, as I work in my office at Barnett House in Edmonton, I can see a whiteboard that has a list of several representation meetings with Alberta Education that have either taken place recently or will take place in the very near future.
In my last meeting with the minister, we talked about issues pertaining to Bill 22 (teachers’ pension), class size and composition, curriculum and a rather uncomfortable dialogue about a social studies test question.
We also talked about the forthcoming Choice in Education Act and the ongoing consultations related to this potential legislation. On this topic I expressed to the minister that the ATA will continue to advocate for funding to support public education in Alberta and will adamantly argue against any kind of voucher system — we cannot allow the erosion of one of the best education systems in the world.
The ATA has also attended recent consultations with the Curriculum Review Advisory Panel and with the government on its desire to bring “balance back” to labour legislation.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I just want you to know that there are a variety of ways that the ATA advocates for its members. Some ways are splashier and grab larger headlines, whereas other ways are subtle and occur in the background.
Though not as dramatic as splashy headlines and grabby sound bites on the news, our representation work to government is vital. It allows us to draw attention to the government’s plans and explain how our policy as an association works or does not work with their ideas. This work is important because it is informed by what the ATA hears from you through your district representatives on Provincial Executive Council.
Unfortunately, like most advocacy work, these meetings don’t always bring about our preferred decisions, but I can assure you that through our ongoing efforts to make representation on your behalf, Alberta teachers are being heard. ❚
I welcome your comments — contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.