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Eggen pledges to maintain public services

August 25, 2015 Kim Dewar, ATA News Staff


“You are the lifeblood of every school,” education minister tells teachers

Alberta’s previous Progressive Conservative government didn’t leave behind a manual on how to run the education ministry, so new minister David Eggen and his NDP colleagues are writing it as they go.

“We’re not just starting a new chapter; we’re starting a whole new book,” he told delegates at the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Summer Conference in Banff on Aug. 14.

Eggen drew rounds of applause with his reference to the now-departed Tory government as the mood of delegates seemed to match the elevation of the rocky peaks surrounding the Banff Centre during the weeklong annual event from Aug. 10 to 14.

Eggen recalled attending last year’s Summer Conference along with Rachel Notley and other NDP leadership candidates, as members of Alberta’s opposition, not government.

“We were looking through the side door, peeking through the window,” he said.

This year, Eggen appeared proudly on centre stage as Alberta’s first New Democrat education minister and addressed the 450 delegates from the podium.

Having taught with Edmonton Public in both social studies and English for the better part of two decades, Eggen said with a grin that today he is “majoring in political science.”

Eggen gave credit to Alberta’s teachers for the province’s world-class education system. He acknowledged the province’s economic difficulties but also pledged to uphold the public interest by strengthening, not compromising, the integrity of the public services that are owned by Albertans.

“Teachers have a tremendous influence on not just education in Alberta, but also foster the culture and sense of community fabric as well,” he said.

Eggen expressed a desire to work closely with Alberta teachers in areas like student assessment and building curriculum. He credited teachers with being the vanguards who helped usher in a new government and offered his thanks.

“I say with sincerity that you are the lifeblood of every school and community that you come from. … I’m just so proud of all the work that you do.”

At the conclusion of Eggen’s speech, Association President Mark Ramsankar and the room full of Alberta teachers responded with a resounding standing ovation. ❚

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