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Teachers need to remain united, ATA president says

May 21, 2022 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor


ATA president Jason Schilling addresses delegates at the Annual Representative Assembly in Calgary on Saturday, May 21.


Alberta teachers need to remain united and not let outside forces drive wedges between them.

This was the message delivered by ATA president Jason Schilling during his address to delegates of the Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) in Calgary on May 21.

“My concern throughout the pandemic has been how others have been able to drive wedges between people in our society, and we as teachers have not been immune to this,” Schilling said. “There have been wedges created between us as well. We need to recognize those attempts — not be drawn into the rhetoric — and not fall for them.”

During his speech, Schilling said that curriculum and the ATA’s regulatory function are among the most significant issues that the teaching profession currently faces.

“These issues are a threat, but I know that we will stand together united to fight for what we believe is best for education, for students and for ourselves.”

Schilling stressed that teacher unity is of particular importance as the profession adjusts to a post-pandemic world.

“The world has changed since we were last together in person for ARA, but what has not changed is your dedication to your profession and to your students,” Schilling said. “What must not change is our unity as we face the opportunities and the challenges that await us.”

Schilling said that, in recent years, he’s sometimes questioned the level of unity that exists within the profession.

“At times, through some of the darkest and most difficult days of the pandemic, as we tried to make the best decisions possible for our membership, I had to wonder, are we truly united?”

Recent years have brought immense polarization and politicization of ideas, such as Covid, the curriculum and the ATA’s regulatory function, which has made decision making difficult for the profession both provincially and locally, Schilling said.

“In leadership roles such as ours, we get used to the idea that you can’t please everyone, but I’ll tell you, on some days, it can feel like you can’t please anyone on anything, no matter what you do,” he said.

Schilling stressed the need for teachers, regardless of what the government does, to stick together and use their collective voices to protect public education, strengthen the profession and improve collegiality.

“We need to lead and not allow the narrative to be written for us,” Schilling said. “Together we have a chance to build a new future, a new normal, one that sees equity for our students, justice for those who are marginalized, respect for our profession and honour for the diversity of a modern Alberta.”



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