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Q & A: Busy year begins

August 30, 2016 Gordon Thomas, Executive Secretary

Question: A new school year is here. What’s ahead for the Alberta Teachers’ Association?

Answer: There’s always lots happening. I don’t know where the summer went! It promises to be a very busy year.

The four-year legislated settlement comes to a conclusion on Aug. 31, 2016, and we are currently in negotiations with the Teachers’ Employer Bargaining Association (TEBA) at the central table. All active members in bargaining units have an interest in these negotiations and regular updates will be provided on our Members Only website. The Central Table Bargaining Committee is chaired by vice-president Greg Jeffery and our lead negotiator is Sandra Johnston, co-ordinator of the Teacher Welfare program area. If you haven’t yet created an online ATA account, please do so — you will need this to vote once there is a memorandum of agreement.

No sooner will the school year start than many exasperated Grade 3 teachers will endure year three of the Student Learning Assessment (SLA) pilot program. Our efforts to revise the pilot were ultimately unsuccessful, and based on the feedback I have received to date, I fully expect that Education Minister David Eggen will hear from our members on this issue.

We are very pleased to participate in a formal partnership with the government as we work closely to develop the new program of studies. Of course, the profession has a keen interest and we will use our capacity to assist the ministry in this work. We are still discussing how we can support the initiative, including the role that specialist councils can play in curriculum development. There is much to be gained here and we are very enthusiastic about the prospects. Our goal will be to create the gold standard in how to develop world-class curriculum.

There will also be extensive work ahead relating to the Joint Commitment to Action, as the Association takes the lead in a project focused on reconciliation through education to connect all students, teachers and education stakeholders to the knowledge, cultures, experiences, perspectives and contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit. The revised Teaching Quality Standard, still working its way through the development process, will include a stand–alone competency on First Nations, Métis and Inuit education. Additional professional practice standards are under development as well, and we support the expansion of professional practice standards across the education system.

The year 2017 will see an election for positions on Provincial Executive Council. Nominations are due Jan. 18, 2017, and the election results will be announced on March 21. The new two-year term on Council commences
July 1, 2017.

And, finally, we are at the front end of the ATA’s centenary. The 2017 Annual Representative Assembly will be the 100th annual general meeting of the ATA, and that will kick off more than a year of celebrations.

So yes, there’s lots ahead in 2016/17.

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

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