Bill 15 is a mistake and its implementation will significantly alter Alberta’s public education system and the ATA’s identity.
That was the statement issued by Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling after the government passed Bill 15 on May 4.
“I echo the words of great Albertans like Myer Horowitz and David King when I say that this will be profoundly damaging to one of the world’s best education systems,” Schilling said. “Albertans should be very concerned that this bill was passed based on unfounded allegations propelled by lies and misinformation.”
The legislation will remove teacher discipline from the ATA and place it in the hands of the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission, which the government is creating to act as an arm’s-length entity that oversees conduct and competency complaints for all teachers and teacher leaders in the province. The government will be appointing a commissioner, and the commission will officially take effect in January 2023.
“Alberta’s teachers are some of the best and most dedicated in the country,” LaGrange stated via Twitter. “This legislation make the process more timely, transparent, free from bias and elevates the status of the teaching profession to best meet the needs of our children.”
Schilling said the change fundamentally changes the identity and culture of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and was done without any meaningful consultation. He added that the ATA will continue to act with integrity by upholding professional standards during the transition period that ensues until the commission is operational.
“Despite the efforts of the minister to undermine public confidence, we will continue to do our important work to protect the public interest,” he said.
“We are worried, though, that the minister believes she can establish a commissioner’s office ready to take over this work in just seven months. She has severely miscalculated the complexity of this critical work.”
He described Bill 15 as an effort to punish the Association and teachers for “daring to stand up to the government’s bad decisions” on issues like curriculum, funding, deteriorating classroom conditions and privatization, “and to coerce us into complying with their agenda.”
“But we will not waver,” he said. “We will continue today and into the future to stand up for students, for teachers and for public education.” ❚