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Party leaders and their education platforms

April 21, 2015

Alberta Liberal Party

David Swann, leader

Swann is the MLA for Calgary-Mountain View. He received his B.Sc. in 1971 and his medical degree in 1973 and has practised as a family physician and a public health consultant.

Education platform

The PC government’s chronic underfunding of our education system is hurting teachers and students. Since this government slashed the education budget five years ago, the system has been lurching from one potential crisis to another. Now, we are staring down the barrel of another austerity budget and deeper cuts.

We simply cannot afford to keep tying children’s education to the price of oil.

Our classrooms are already overcrowded due to a lack of space and teachers. More layoffs would simply exacerbate this problem, and our students are going to pay the price.

Now is the time to invest in education in order to protect young families in this province. Slashing the budget will end up costing all of us more in the long run. It will damage our economy and our society, and it will shortchange our children’s future.

Alberta Liberals will stand up for students, stand up for teachers and stand up for education.

Approved policies

  • Eliminate school fees.
  • Increase ESL funding.
  • Make schools community hubs.
  • Eliminate Provincial Achievement Tests.
  • Start a provincial school-lunch program.
  • Fully fund all-day kindergarten programs.
  • Provide a tax credit up to $500 for teachers.
  • Make gay-straight alliances (GSAs) mandatory in schools where students request them.
  • Include age-appropriate information on consent in all programs of study dealing primarily with sexual health education.
  • Incorporate accredited private schools into the public system by eliminating current funding model over the next five years.
  • Ensure basics skills are taught first before discovery learning in the Alberta Education curriculum.
  • Restore the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP), and create a new program of year-round, paid internships.
  • Establish dedicated trade schools at the high school level by expanding the Registered Apprenticeship Program and other related trade-based programs.

Alberta NDP

Rachel Notley, leader

Notley is the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona. She has a BA and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She has worked as a labour lawyer and as a ministerial advisor to British Columbia’s attorney general.

Education platform

Rachel Notley and Alberta’s New Democrats are making the following commitments, over and above already budgeted dollars, to stop the harm the PCs’ cuts will do to education in our province and improve the learning environment for students and teachers:

$104 million in 2015–16 to support 12,000 new students entering schools

The net effect of the PCs 2015 budget is to deliver a significant cut of $104 million to K–12 education in our province. This cut comes at the same time that 12,000 new students are entering our schools. These cuts will then be embedded in future years, compounding the negative impacts. We will immediately reverse this funding cut to schools.

$75 million additional funding to begin addressing class sizes

The PC’s budget will increase class sizes on average by 1.5 students. Class sizes are already problematic, with average K–3 classroom sizes exceeding guidelines recommended by the 2003 Commission on Learning by three students per classroom. We will take immediate action to begin addressing class sizes.

$45 million to reduce by 50 per cent school fees paid by parents

Despite accounting for only 13 per cent of students nationally, Alberta families pay 39 per cent of all school fees in Canada. We will commit sufficient funding to reduce by half the total amount of school funding paid by students and their families through mandatory fees such as lunch supervision.

$20 million to provide nutritious school lunches to 22,000 students

Too many students are going to school without sufficiently nutritious lunches. We will implement a new school lunch program, to serve 22,000 students in the first year, before a broader implementation across the province.

Resetting the relationship with teachers, school boards and students

In addition to supporting teachers and students, we are dedicated to supporting school boards. The PCs have adopted a confrontational approach to school boards, refusing to approve budgets that contain insufficient spending cuts. Relations should be focused on steadily improving educational outcomes for students.

PC Alberta

Jim Prentice, leader

Prentice is the MLA for Calgary-Foothills. He practised as a property rights and First Nations lawyer before becoming the MP for Calgary Centre-North. He served as the federal minister of Indian Affairs, Environment and Industry before becoming a vice-president of CIBC.

Education platform

Education is the great economic equalizer. No matter where a child was born, or into what economic circumstance, in Alberta every child has access to a world-class education system. Our schools exist to give children the tools they need to be successful in an increasingly competitive and complex economy.

All children in Alberta should have equal opportunity to succeed. That’s why we will invest and support them in their early years and throughout their education. If we do this, they can get a good head start in life.

Invest in early childhood development

  • Implement Alberta’s Early Childhood Development initiative, including an integrated early learning system.
  • Add three new Parent Link Centres that provide free parenting and play programs to meet the unique needs of families.

Support student success

  • Develop a strategy for higher student achievement including curriculum changes, coherent grading, and
    21st-century competencies such as innovation, communication and critical thinking.
  • Shift diploma exam weighting from a 50/50 to a 30/70 weighting where school-awarded grades will be worth 70 per cent.
  • Dual-credit partnerships: students can now take high school trades and skills courses and get credits at a post-secondary institution.
  • Promote safe, dignified and respectful education environments.

Invest in teacher excellence

Our teachers play a vital role in preparing our children to complete in a 21st century economy, and we will give them the tools and support they need to do so.

  • Preserve front line teaching positions.
  • Invest in training and support for Alberta teachers with a focus on math as an essential skill.
  • Work with educators to ensure professional teaching standards address the diverse needs of students in the 21st century.Provide support and mentorship for new teachers.

Wildrose Party

Brian Jean, leader

Jean is a businessman, a lawyer and for 10 years served as the MP for Fort McMurray–Athabasca. He has a B.Sc. and an MBA and has been a printer, a logger, a farmhand and a registered trapper.

Education platform

Wildrose believes every child in Alberta should receive an education that is second to none.

Building schools on time and on budget

  • Ensure new school projects are approved in a transparent and consistent way, aligned with priorities determined by school boards, not the minister.
  • Speed up completion of new school projects and improve the tendering and design process.
  • Empower local boards to co-ordinate with developers and community facilities such as recreation centres and libraries.

Getting back to basics

  • Clearly identify the knowledge and skills required for each grade and entrust teachers to choose the method of instruction for their classes.
  • Develop a consistent provincial grading standard with traditional letter or percentage grades for Grade 5 to 12 students, and support the practice of teachers who give a grade of zero for incomplete work.
  • Improve transparency of student results so parents have the information they need to make decisions about their child’s education.

Protecting choice and equality

  • Eliminate mandatory school fees.
  • Protect a parent’s right to choose what school their child attends (public, Catholic, francophone, public charter, private or homeschool) and maintain the current model for school funding.
  • Review funding and government supports to help schools be more sustainable in small communities.
  • Recognize that meeting the needs of special needs students means improving the supports for their families and teachers.
  • Ensure adequate funding follows each special needs student and is used in a way that best meets the individual needs of the child.
  • Facilitate students who would benefit from inclusion, but ensure adequate support is provided so the classroom is a healthy learning environment for everyone.
  • Work with all partners to make sure that every child, regardless of gender, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, appearance or any other characteristic, has a bully-free educational experience.

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