ATA News

Voting for Council is your right


Fake news. I don’t accept these results. This election was stolen. 

We have heard many statements like these over the past number of years and many of us are tired of them. But many others make a connection between the politicians who made the statements and the elections in which they were running. There are those who say that it’s just not worth it any more, I’m just not going to vote. This is the top of a very slippery slope. 

Voting is the cornerstone of democracy, and if we leave this franchise to the polarized extremes, the downward spiral we have been witnessing will only continue. You may now be asking “That’s all well and good but why is this in the ATA News?”

We are now into our biennial ATA election cycle and your vote counts. We have one of the largest fields of candidates that I can recall in my 39 years of involvement. There will be many different points of view expressed, and each of us should want to support an aspiring Provincial Executive Council member who shares our own opinions. You will have ample opportunities to inform yourself about the candidates’ positions. Print literature will be available in your schools. There will be in-person and virtual forums. There are candidate websites, and their bios have appeared in the ATA News (see the Jan. 31 edition). 

When we all pledged acceptance of membership in the ATA at our induction ceremony in our first year of teaching, part of that pledge was participation in the democratic processes available to each of us. While it may be that some do not recall this, it has been in the pledge as long as I have been involved in the ATA. For some of us, voting has led to further involvement, but you don’t have to become provincial president just because you exercised your democratic right. 

It has been a time of turmoil in our profession and in our Association the past number of years, so we need strong, decisive and informed leadership in order for government to hear and act on our opinions. Your participation in this election helps insure the strength of our voice. Over the past years, both President Schilling and I heard at various times, “You don’t speak for teachers.” Voting turnouts in the 25 per cent range make this hard to refute, but if we all have our say in this election, the next president and council will be much better armed to advocate for us. 

Teachers should always model proper behaviour, and with a strong turnout, perhaps we can show all Albertans the importance of participating in democracy. The provincial general election will follow two months after our own and could very well be a crossroads for public education in our province. Let’s model appropriate behaviour for our fellow citizens and help to rebuild faith in the democratic process. 

Elections will also be taking place within each ATA local in the spring. It is said that change begins from within, and there will be many opportunities to “kick it up a notch” and seek a position within your own local. Whether it be on a committee, in an executive spot, or as a school rep, you can become part of the decision-making process for all the teachers in your area. Regardless of whether your interests lie in collective bargaining, professional development, diversity equity and human rights, substitutes or women in leadership, a slot is there for you to fill and share your knowledge and your passion. Give it a shot. It sure worked out well for me.

Your candidates will be available for you to meet in person, question and get to know better at your upcoming teachers’ convention. Find the booth and have some conversations. The people running are committed to improving teaching and learning in Alberta and are happy to talk to any and all of you.

Voting will be online through the ATA website from March 13 to 16 and takes very little time. Your school rep is available to help you with the login if needed. Have some fun with it. Find another school to challenge for highest voter percentage. I‘ll leave the prize up to you. 

There are many things coming at us from all directions, and we need a strong voice to respond. You can help strengthen that voice. All you have to do is vote!

Grey Jeffery

ATA Past President

Greg Jeffery

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