Alberta Teachers’ Association president Jason Schilling has issued the following statement with regards to Premier Smith’s mandate letter to Education Minister Nicolaides.
“Premier Smith’s mandate letter for the minister of education provides an outline of government priorities for education over the next four years. The Alberta Teachers’ Association looks forward to the opportunity of working with government on shared priorities and providing advice on areas of concern.
We have a common interest in supporting student learning, and the Association is pleased to see that the government intends to provide funding, and focus on areas such as mental health and increasing the number of schools in the province. The letter also speaks to greater supports to address specialized learning needs, which are also critically important.
We have a shared desire to support the attraction and retention of qualified teachers as teacher shortage issues are rapidly growing across the province. Teaching is a unique, complex, and challenging profession and adding underprepared workers into teaching would create more problems than it solves. The issue of teacher shortages is closely linked to matters of classroom conditions, and we expect to have conversations with government to find solutions.
Much of the mandate letter focuses on preparing students for specific workplaces. While this may be important in today’s context, we only need to look at the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence to understand we are living in a rapidly changing world. Students, whatever their ambitions might be, must have a well-rounded education that helps them to think critically and be able to adapt to the wide array of future career opportunities that may appear. Albertans understand that you “skate to where the puck will be, not where it has been.” We must help our students learn so that they are equipped to thrive in jobs and a future that is yet to unfold.
The Association also anticipates discussing such systemic needs as classroom size and complexity so that every student has equitable access to education and opportunities for their future. Alberta has a long history of having a world-class system, which has been a result of the government and the Association working together.
We will be requesting a meeting with Minister Nicolaides to discuss these and a range of other topics important to education in Alberta.”
ATA President Jason Schilling
The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, supports teachers’ professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.