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Q and A: Conditions of practice getting worse, not better

September 9, 2014 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: This fall, my class has more special needs students and they have less support than ever. It will be harder for me to teach and harder for my students to learn. What should I do?

Answer: There’s no question that teachers’ conditions of professional practice—and students’ learning conditions—are getting worse. Funding increases have not been provided by government, and school board ­resources continue to be squeezed.

If conditions severely compromise a teacher’s capacity to meet student learning needs, the teacher should protest the assignment or conditions to the board. You should contact the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Member Services branch to discuss how best to protest your assignment or conditions.

In 2012, the Association established a Blue Ribbon Panel on Inclusive Education, and the panel was given a mandate to conduct an arm’s-length review of inclusion. Chaired by Dr. Marc Arnal, former dean of the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean, the panel will report later in September, including its findings and recommendations.

Please watch the Association’s website for the latest information. The Association will respond to the findings and recommendations of the panel and bring the panel’s findings and recommendations to the attention of the minister of education.

One of the major components of the legislated settlement was a comprehensive workload study, which is now underway. The research study, which will chronicle the work of a significant number of teachers for an entire year, will provide very useful data in July 2015. The Association will not wait for these results to advocate for the funding necessary to improve the conditions of professional practice as soon as possible.

Workload issues, especially related to inclusive education, will be an important discussion with the new premier and minister of education in the weeks ahead. ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (

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