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Minister reaches out to ATA

February 23, 2016 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

Education Minister David Eggen and ATA president Mark Ramsankar pose for a selfie during a visit by Eggen to Barnett House to meet with the Association’s table officers.

Communication between Alberta Education and the Alberta Teachers’ Association has opened up suddenly and significantly in recent weeks, creating optimism about impending movement on important education files.

Association president Mark Ramsankar said he’s held a number of meetings with Education Minister David Eggen. Meetings have also taken place between ministry officials and senior Association executives.

“The communication has opened up tremendously and we’re starting to see some activity on files that I’d previously considered stagnant,” Ramsankar said.

Eggen joined Ramsankar at the North Central Teachers’ Convention on Feb. 4, and then the two held a meeting on Feb. 8 to discuss “the way ahead” in education. Eggen also met with the Association’s table officers for more than two hours on Thursday, Feb. 11.

The meetings came about after Ramsankar told government representatives “rather adamantly” that he wasn’t happy with the level of communication with the ministry. Ramsankar also attributed the increased communication to the fact that Eggen was recently relieved of his other portfolio: Culture and Tourism.

Premier Rachel Notley expanded her cabinet on Feb. 2, leaving Eggen with Education as his only portfolio. Following that announcement he told the ATA News that that change would enable him to work more closely with education stakeholders. In a statement issued after meeting table officers, he characterized the gathering as “a productive conversation.”

“We have so much common ground and I am so excited for what we will all accomplish in the years ahead. Schools and teachers are pillars of our community and I look forward to returning for further discussions.”

The interaction between officials at Alberta Education and the ATA has Ramsankar feeling optimistic.

While being careful not to make promises on behalf of the minister, Ramsankar said their discussions included positive, direct and open dialogue on a range of topics including curriculum, assessment and the Association’s desire to work toward a sound public assurance model.

“I believe that the opportunity for real work is at hand and we should see some meaningful progress,” he said.

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