Members' Update

Public education needs more to reduce country’s largest class sizes

Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling has issued the following statement in response to today’s funding announcement from the Alberta government:

“When students are added to classrooms that are not fully funded, this amounts to a cut.

This year’s growth in student enrolment is unprecedented. Estimates from school boards suggest that enrolment will be up by at least 20,000 students over last year. School boards are short about $135 million this year as a result of the province not fully funding these students.

By adding students without funding school boards to hire enough teachers and other support staff, it is guaranteed that class sizes and classroom conditions will just continue to worsen. While any injection of funding to schools is appreciated, today’s announcement falls well short of what’s required to improve conditions in schools. In fact, this announcement does not even stop the situation from getting worse.

Funding is always a choice. The government posted an $11.6 billion surplus last year. It is projecting a $2.4 billion surplus this year. The government has the money; it just needs the political will.

Albertans want more spending on education. Our public opinion polling shows 68 per cent of Albertans believe that we are not spending enough on public education, and 72 per cent of Albertans feel that class sizes are too large.

Funding is a choice. So, why are we choosing to continue to cut the level of per-pupil funding when we already have the lowest funded public education system in the country?

This funding is obviously welcome, but it is nowhere near enough. Alberta’s students deserve better.”

—ATA president Jason Schilling