Just three per cent of Albertans feel that teacher conduct is a top issue in education, and as few as 13 per cent support the outcomes proposed by Bill 15, according to independent polling results conducted by Environics Research on behalf of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
The poll results come as the government is starting to move forward debate on Bill 15, The Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline) Amendment Act. If passed, the bill would remove professional regulatory functions from the ATA and transfer them to a new teaching profession commissioner to be appointed by cabinet.
The bill has been previously described by ATA president Jason Schilling as a power grab by the minister. The poll results show 52 per cent of Albertans trust the ATA most to do this work, whereas 25 per cent trust school boards and just 17 per cent trust the Alberta government.
“The minister has picked the worst possible option for regulating teachers, according to the views of Albertans,” Schilling said. “Minister LaGrange is executing a massive power grab through Bill 15, but Albertans don’t trust the government to uphold standards for the teaching profession.”
The poll found that only 13 per cent of Albertans believe the ATA should become just a union and have fewer professional functions, whereas 35 per cent of Albertans think the ATA should be given more professional responsibilities. Twenty-one per cent say the ATA should continue with its current roles.
The release also includes results from a poll of teachers, who also support a more enhanced professional role for the ATA, but in higher numbers. Fifty-seven per cent of teachers feel the ATA should continue with its current roles with an additional 29 per cent saying the ATA should have enhanced professional functions. Only seven per cent of members say the ATA should become just a union. Eighty-three per cent of members trust the ATA most to uphold teaching standards, with only two per cent saying they trust the government most to do this work.
“After the fumbling and bumbling over curriculum, Covid and funding, there is no surprise that Albertans have no confidence in the government on the issue of teacher discipline,” Schilling said. “Bill 15 removes professional functions from the ATA and consolidates them under the control of the minister. The process will be highly susceptible to political interference, and this polling shows that Albertans don’t trust her with the power she’s giving herself.”
Polling results are from representative surveys of 800 adult Albertans and 825 ATA members conducted between January 27 and February 17, 2022. The margin of error for the teacher poll is plus or minus 3.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Full poll results can be read by accessing the news release at www.teachers.ab.ca. ❚