This is a transcript of a speech delivered at the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Annual Representative Assembly on May 16.
Thank you, President Ramsankar.
Members of Provincial Executive Council, delegates to the Annual Representative Assembly, and of course special guests, it is my great honour to bring greetings this morning on behalf of our premier-designate, Rachel Notley.
And I want to begin by saying thank you. Thank you for all the work that each of you bring every day in our schools, in our communities across Alberta. Thank you for supporting our children and helping them get the absolute best start in life. And thank you for your commitment to the values and principles of public education: everyone is welcome and everyone can succeed.
The work you do is important to every family in Alberta and to the future of our province. And that’s why you deserve a partner in government, a partner you can trust, a partner that works with you to protect our schools, a partner that understands the needs of our children, a partner that respects the values and the important contributions and sacrifices that teachers make in our province. And friends, I’m thrilled to say that now you have that true partner in the government of Alberta.
And we have a very clear mandate from Albertans, a mandate that reflects what matters most to families and proper class sizes that allow children to learn; a mandate to ensure that new teachers are hired for new students and, like schools and families, we need them in new neighbourhoods and old neighbourhoods alike. Public education matters to you, it matters to me, it matters to our premier, and it matters to Albertans and the government as a whole.
Today our province is growing. Thousands of new students are entering our schools every year. This September we expect 12,000 new students to walk into classrooms. And we know that those students need a few things: they need teachers, textbooks and desks, to name a few. And today we’re thrilled that we have a government that is committed to meeting the needs of our growing province, the new students who enter our schools. That’s the commitment that we made to Albertans, and that’s the commitment that they made by electing us.
We’ve already taken the first steps to ease pressures on school boards. Rather than submitting their budgets by May 31, premier-designate Notley has extended that deadline to the end of June. That gives all of us the time that we need to work together and plan properly so that students can have the right supports this September. Our children’s education is too important to rush into wrong decisions. You know that. I know that. As the government of Alberta, we’ll make the right decisions for our students and our province’s future. And we’ll make those right decisions by working with you.
Every day you gave your best to children and families throughout Alberta. And now working together as partners, you can trust the government to do the same: we’ll work with you and we’ll show you the respect that you all deserve. Because we share your belief in the value of public education and the promise that public education holds for every child. No matter where you come from, no matter what your background and no matter how much your parents make, each and every child in Alberta should have the opportunities they need to be successful.
Building on that shared belief, we will strengthen our education system together. We can build more inclusive classrooms for children that we work tirelessly with to ensure that they get the right supports that they need and [can] be successful. And we’ll do more to ensure that no child goes to school hungry. We can and we will build a relationship that is respectful by recognizing the work that you do is valued by the government of Alberta.
Friends, this is a very exciting time in our province, and it’s an exciting time to be working in public education and building a better future together for our students and our province. On behalf of the premier-designate, I want to wish you a very productive weekend, and I know we all look forward to a new start, a better relationship and a true partnership that allows all of us to support the students of Alberta.
Thank you very much. ❚
Sarah Hoffman was elected as MLA in Edmonton-Glenora on May 5. Since speaking at ARA, the former board chair of Edmonton Public Schools was named minister of health and seniors by Premier Rachel Notley.