Editorial: ATA News exclusive: Election imminent

February 10, 2015 Jonathan Teghtmeyer, ATA News Editor-in-Chief

The ATA News can confirm that Alberta voters will be casting ballots in a provincial election this spring.

Documents shared exlusively with the News from sources in the room when the decision was made show that voters will be picking their reps prior to March 23, 2015.

The chief returning officer confirms that everything is in place to allow for voting as soon as Feb. 27.

The Association is encouraging teachers to prepare for the vote by learning more about the issues at stake and the views of the candidates putting their names forward in the local districts. Some teachers will also want to make certain that they have their teaching certificate number handy to ensure that the voting process runs smoothly.

Oh, I hope I didn’t confuse you. Of course I’m talking about the upcoming election for Provincial Executive Council (PEC) of the ATA. The Association is committed to respecting the fixed election period established in bylaws, which means that teachers will cast ballots between Feb. 27 and March 22, 2015.

As for the general election for members of the Alberta legislative assembly, only Premier Jim Prentice knows that date for sure.

In the weeks ahead, teachers will elect two members to the position of vice-president and seven members to serve as district representatives. Contests for these positions mean that teachers across the province will cast a ballot this year, and more than half of them will also be casting ballots in a contested district representative race. President Mark Ramsankar and the other district representatives have been elected unchallenged for another two-year term.

PEC elections are a critical element for the effectiveness of Alberta’s teaching profession. The Alberta Teachers’ Association is rooted in democracy, from the Annual Representative Assembly, which consists of 425 teacher representatives who set the annual budget and establish Association policy, through to PEC, which conducts the business of the Association between ARAs. Active practising teachers from across the province are selected every two years by their colleagues to represent their views at the PEC table.

Solid leadership for the profession will be vital heading into the next two years. Turbulent political times and uncertain government finances tend to result in bad news for teachers and education. Already a massive student population boom is placing significant demands on an underresourced system. A shortage of needed schools and necessary teachers has resulted in deteriorated professional and learning conditions.

Teachers have also witnessed the cost of living grow while their salaries have been frozen for three years. Concerns about expanding assignments have gone largely unaddressed and the profession is still recovering from an unprecedented attack by a hostile education minister last school year.

A strong PEC with a clear mandate from an engaged membership will help ensure that teachers’ interests are well represented. I am hopeful that teachers will get informed, interested and engaged, while also actively encouraging their colleagues to do the same.

Your voice counts, so make sure your vote gets counted. ❚

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


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