Citizens of the Canadian province of Alberta are justifiably proud of their education system, but whether it remains “world-class” is up for debate as school boards grapple with budget shortfalls. Despite Alberta Education’s overall budget increase, programs and teachers face cuts. Edmonton Public Schools could see as many as 345 positions lost, with 299 of them being teachers.
Increasing Population But Shrinking Budget
Even with increasing populations, school districts struggle with staff allotment. Alberta Education’s budget increase only covered the 4.5% needed to cover teacher’s wages. Programs like the English Learner’s Language (ELL) and the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement received no increases at all.
The Reality for Our Children
The Alberta Teachers’ Union predicts that up to 1,000 teaching positions could be lost, and coupled with last year’s cuts, class sizes will most certainly rise.
In Fort Saskatchewan, where my daughter attends school, class sizes of 35 or more are common in the upper elementary grades. A mini-boom in the under nine crowd has forced some schools to utilize administrators for the teaching of specials like Art and put grade six students to use on lunchroom duty because there simply aren’t enough adults to go around.
Though hundreds descended on the Alberta Legislature at the end of May to protest this new round of underfunding, the provincial government refused to allocate any additional money.
Tell Us Your Stories
My daughter was recently diagnosed with learning disabilities, and my husband and I listened as her principal explained she simply had no money in her budget to allocate any assistance for our child. Children with learning disabilities and those struggling with English because it’s not their first language are being left to fend for themselves in Alberta. We are the only province to not fund all day kindergarten, and like Quebec, we struggle with a large dropout rate. Still our elected officials return again and again to education’s budget allotment to make up deficits.
What’s the situation where you live? Share your stories with us.
Photo credit: School Bus, Canada by flequi