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A modest proposal to solve classroom crowding

Empty arena seats

Alberta’s hockey fans have had little to celebrate this fall. 

The Edmonton Oilers started this year as odds on favourite to win the Stanley Cup, but already their head coach and starting goalie have fallen victim to a completely disappointing start. 

As I write, the Calgary Flames are just a mere point ahead of their provincial rivals, but at least the prospect of a brand new hockey arena in that city provides a ray of hope for southern Alberta hockey fans.

The Government of Alberta’s agreement to provide $330 million in funding to support a new Calgary hockey arena caught my attention recently, and I must say, I am overjoyed!

A multi-use events centre is exactly what Calgary’s children need.

In addition to being a home for millionaires to play hockey on billionaire-owned teams, the facility could double as overflow teaching space to ease the crunch of overcrowded classrooms in Calgary public schools. 

Alberta has the lowest per student funding for public education and the largest class sizes in the country. Class sizes have grown steadily since 2008/09 as more and more students have been added to Calgary schools while funding and staff hiring has failed to keep pace.

If current classroom spaces in the two Calgary school divisions were capped at 2008/09 class size levels, there would be 22,000 students without a classroom or teacher.

$330 million in funding to support a new Calgary hockey arena caught my attention recently, and I must say, I am overjoyed!

The solution is obvious. We either build 1,400 more classrooms or come up with one centralised location to teach 22,000 students. Why haven’t we thought of this sooner? 

I can’t possibly imagine a better way to spend $330 million on Alberta’s most important infrastructure needs.

Modern NHL arenas also come with top notch audio-visual technology, including large high-definition Jumbotrons. Don’t Alberta’s students deserve access to this sort of first-rate instructional technology?

Once the arena is built and students are transferred in, relief will be instant for students and teachers in schools across the city. The solution also doesn’t need to involve greater staffing costs. The great sightlines and high-end audio-visual tools set up for NHL games will be very useful for learning. Just throw a teacher at centre ice, pop on a follow spot and Bob’s your uncle.

This solution means that the median class-size in Calgary would quickly drop to a level that would make students, teachers and parents happy that most children will once again have access to the individualised attention they need.

This also provides a great opportunity to expand choice in education. Students — and their parents — will be able to choose between a brand new one-of-a-kind educational facility with cutting edge technology or one of the many now reasonably spaced public school classrooms across the city.

It is a revolutionary idea for public education. I look forward to meeting the teacher who is lucky enough to be the pioneer for this groundbreaking learning environment. It was most fitting to me that the funding announcement came on World Teachers’ Day. It would be equally fitting that the identity of this lucky teacher be revealed on April 1.

Undoubtedly, their teaching certificate number will one day be raised to the rafters to hang among the greats.

And, at the very least, even if this modest proposal does not produce better educational outcomes for Calgary students, we can hope that the sight of all those young eager Flames fans together might inspire the hockey team to win just a little more often. For the sake of the children. ❚

I welcome your comments. Contact me at

Photo of Jonathan Teghtmeyer
Jonathan Teghtmeyer

ATA News Editor-In-Chief