Where the parties stand on education

Learn more about where each of Alberta’s political parties stand on important issues in education. On this page we are collecting information from each party’s website and releases related to their views on education.

These pages will be updated as each party releases more detail about their platform. To view the All-Party forum held on March 2, 2019, click here or head to the "Video" page.

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www.albertaliberal.com

Leader: David Khan

Education enriches lives and builds strong economies. Our children deserve an ambitious investment in education. The NDP have invested in schools while cutting operational spending and not supporting true inclusive education.

The result? Alberta still isn’t anywhere near meeting its class-size targets, there is a lack of mental health support for students, students with special needs are being left behind and school fees are still punishing low-income families.

We need more than just new schools. We need more teachers and educational assistants, more counsellors and to eliminate school fees.

Smaller Class Sizes

Alberta Liberals will put an end to overcrowded classrooms by implementing flexible classroom size caps and 2, 000+ hiring more teachers.

Reducing classroom sizes increases the academic performance of students. Yet for almost 20 years successive Governments have failed to meet Alberta’s class-size guidelines. Some math classes have upwards of 45 students in them and there are Gym classes with 60 students.

The money that has been spent on reducing class-sizes has been poorly tracked, according to Alberta’s Auditor General, and failed to create results.

The Alberta Liberal Plan will:

  • Introduce flexible class-size caps that make it mandatory for the Government and school boards to keep class sizes small.
  • Hire as many teachers as needed to meet the class-size requirements.
  • Phase in the caps over time, focusing on grades K-3 first, where class size is most strongly tied to performance.
  • Work with school boards and educators to make sure class-size caps make sense locally.
  • Ensure money allocated for reducing class sizes goes towards that goal.
  • Fund enrollment growth, the curriculum review and infrastructure needs.

Healthy Lifestyles

Alberta Liberals will create a leading-edge Healthy Lifestyle Program that includes banning junk food from schools and fully-funding comprehensive healthy lifestyle training. The formative years of a student’s life are the perfect time to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Early Intervention Mental Health

Alberta Liberals will tackle youth mental health issues through a significant increase in funding for mental health services in our schools. The funding will be part of our $600 million investment in Mental Health. Seventy percent of adults with mental illness had recognizable signs in childhood that were inadequately assessed and treated. Addressing mental health issues starts with helping our youth. Doing so not only makes the lives of children better, but reduces the long-term health costs associated with unaddressed mental health problems.

Curriculum

The current curriculum review isn’t perfect but it has made good changes. It would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to throw it out. We support the curriculum changes but are calling for further improvements including:

  • Teaching K-12 students about emotional and mental wellness.
  • Expanding financial literacy education.
  • Updating age-respectful early education on LGBTQ2S+ issues.

True Inclusive Education

We’ll invest in more supports for students with extra needs by increasing funding by 50%. We understand the need for more teaching assistants, more training and more professionals with specialized qualifications. We also need to fund cognitive testing
and Individualized Education Plans. We’ll ensure funding for special needs students follows the student it is intended for, including for those students who are home schooled due to difficulties they’ve encountered in the public school system.We’ll also immediately ban the use of seclusion rooms and mandate closer monitoring of all funding directed towards inclusive education.

Eliminating School Fees

We will phase out school fees for all public schools, including Charter Schools. Nothing is more important to education than equality of opportunity, but school fees disadvantage low-income families. They will cease to exist under an Alberta Liberal Government.

Fairness for Charter Schools

Charter schools are part of the public system and provide valuable, specialized programs, but this NDP government has treated them and their students like secondclass citizens. An Alberta Liberal government will eliminate school and bussing fees for Charter school students, and ensure Charter school infrastructure is funded in an equal and fair way

Source: Alberta Liberal Party website

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albertandp.ca

Leader: Rachel Notley

Strong Public Education. For Our Kids. 

More teachers. More support staff. Better education.

Albertans expect their government to prepare Alberta’s kids for the future by properly funding our public education system. Rachel Notley knows that investing in our schools and students is one of the most important investments we can make in our province’s future.

Notley’s plan for the next four years invests in education and supports Alberta’s young learners by strengthening and modernizing Alberta’s education system. Our kids deserve nothing less.

Every child that enters a school will have a teacher to greet them and the resources they need to learn. Notley’s plan will ensure up to 1,000 new teachers and support staff by:

  • Fully-funding enrollment growth, adding 600 new teachers and support staff for an estimated 15,000 new students this fall and;
  • Increasing the Classroom Improvement Fund (CIF) from $77 million to $100 million annually, adding up to 400 new teachers and support staff this fall. 

The CIF is distributed to schools based on student enrolment. In the 2018-19 school year, the fund helped hire and retain teachers and support staff, as well as better support students with complex needs, and those learning one of Canada’s official languages for the first time.

Building on the recent success of expanded language programs in Alberta schools, Notley’s plan will create new provincial Filipino, Punjabi, Somali and Cantonese courses. This will help ensure more students are prepared for Alberta’s future in a global marketplace.

Building new schools and playgrounds. Because we need them.

When parents and students were being asked to continue learning in overcrowded and crumbling schools, Rachel Notley stepped up to build new schools. Rather than make empty promises like the previous government did, Rachel Notley invested in 244 new and modernized schools right across Alberta.

We know there’s more to do. Not only will we ensure the completion of the 100 schools currently under construction, we will continue to invest in Alberta communities and keep up with our growing population by investing $1.3 billion to build and upgrade another 70 schools across the province, including badly needed high schools such as the one in north Calgary.

Rather than making parents fundraise to build and fix playgrounds, Rachel Notley will ensure every new and modernized school project comes with a $250,000 investment in a new playground. In addition, Notley’s plan invests $5 million per year to assist mature schools and neighbourhoods to replace 100 aging and outdated school playgrounds.

Safe and supportive spaces for LGBTQ students. 

While some political parties are proposing to remove protections for LGBTQ students, Rachel Notley will ensure all students right the right to form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in Alberta.

Studies show that students who do not identify as heterosexual are subject to verbal and physical harassment and discrimination at school, and that GSAs promote and enhance school inclusion, support and feelings of belonging for all students.

We passed An Act to Support Gay Straight Alliances into law to protect a student’s right to form a gay-straight alliance at their school without fear of being outed. This was a priority for our government because every single student deserves to feel safe and welcome at their school. 

This law requires all publicly funded schools to create welcoming, caring and safe school policies and post them publicly on their website. The law also requires school administration to create a GSA in a timely manner if one is requested by students. 

Rachel Notley will continue to protect all students by ensuring the timely creation of a GSA when requested by students, so they have access to a safe space without fear of being outed. 

Building on our record of strong public education. 

Before the last election, investment in education was falling behind. Kids were having to learn in outdated and overcrowded schools with crumbling infrastructure. That’s why Rachel Notley focused on improving classroom conditions and to build new schools by:

  • Investing in 244 new and modernized schools in every corner of the province.
  • Hiring 4,000 new teachers and support staff by continuing to fully fund enrolment growth in the system. 
  • Serving a daily healthy meal to 30,000 kids, helping those kids live better and get better results, through a successful new nutrition program. 
  • Launching the province’s first comprehensive curriculum review, updating 30-year-old curriculum, to make sure our kids learn today’s basics and have the problem-solving skills they need to be successful in today’s fast changing world.
  • Passing a law that ensures every student in every school can form a gay straight alliance without fear of being outed. 
  • Reducing school fees for Alberta families saving them $60 million annually. 
  • Building playgrounds when we build a new school because it just makes sense. All new and replacement schools will get $250,000 towards a playground. We also launched a pilot program to fund playgrounds in older neighbourhoods.  
  • Developing an Arabic language program that school boards across the province can offer to students.

 

Source: NPD News Release, March 28, 2019

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www.albertaparty.ca

Leader: Stephen Mandel

The Alberta Party will deliver best-in-class kindergarten, primary and secondary education

Source: Position statements: Social Responsibility

 

Alberta Party commits to creating 60,000 new spaces for K-12 students by building and modernizing schools over the next 4 years. Working with teachers is a top priority.

Funding for enrollment growth

  • An Alberta Party government will increase funding to accommodate the 15,000 new spaces needed each year by building or modernizing 25 schools per year with the total estimated cost of $190 million.

  • Work with municipalities and school boards to boost enrollment in underutilized schools (such as older schools in mature urban neighbourhoods).

  • Mandate school boards work together on shared busing and facilities where doing so will increase service levels to students.

  • We will work with post-secondary institutions to develop learning centres for returning adult learners to complete their K-12 studies while pursuing certificates and degrees.

  • We will increase the age cap on education funding from 19 years old to 25, to enable more adult learners to complete their high school education.

  • Review and relaunch the Class Size Initiative to increase the number of teachers in classrooms and require detailed reporting per the Auditor General’s February 2018 report.

  • We will work with rural school boards to find ways to improve sustainability and funding of rural schools in light of declining enrollment

Supporting our teachers

  • An Alberta Party government is committed to negotiating in good faith.

  • We will continue to support professional development for educators.

  • We respect the the rights and roles of school boards.

  • We commit to working with the ATA as the professional association that represents teachers in Alberta.

  • We will work with teachers and school boards to improve teacher safety in classrooms. We look forward to seeing recommendations from the ATA’s Committee on Understanding Aggression(s) in Alberta Schools and School Communities.

  • We will expand support for teachers in classrooms in addition to adding previously announced educational assistants.

  • We will work with teachers and school boards to develop and fund an inclusive education strategy that better supports teachers, students, and parents.

  • We will move mental health and wraparound services funding from AHS to local school boards.

  • We will ensure that teachers have sufficient time to prepare for changes to curriculum. These changes are important and we need to ensure our teachers feel they are prepared to support our children in their classrooms.

  • We support mandatory vaccination for students.

Diversity and inclusion

  • An Alberta Party government will continue to support GSAs.

  • Current annual funding for inclusive education to school boards is approximately $460 million per year. This amount will be increased to $690 million per year.

  • We will increase opportunities for partnerships with Alberta’s diverse communities to work within the public school system to provide culturally diverse programs of study.

  • Increase Program Unit Funding for Early Childhood Support programs to support young people with learning challenges.

  • We will review the overall rural education funding formula including the density/distance funding formula to address transportation issues in rural Alberta.

  • We will work with school boards, the Alberta Teachers Association and post-secondary institutions to attract and train more educators from under-represented and non-traditional backgrounds.

Curriculum review

  • An Alberta Party government will support the current curriculum review and will work with stakeholders to implement the new curriculum in an orderly fashion. We will ensure future curriculum reviews happen regularly and with more consultation.

  • We support the teaching of consent as an essential part of the curriculum sexual health education.

  • We believe the curriculum must also include competency education (critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration) to ensure our learners have the skills they need for the 21st century economy (e.g., coding, artificial intelligence).

  • We will strengthen Truth and Reconciliation in all aspects of the Alberta curriculum.

School choice

  • An Alberta Party government will retain existing school choice, and maintain the
    current Private and Charter school funding programs.

  • We will allow PUF funding to go to Charter and Private schools when appropriate.

Educational Assistants:

An Alberta Party government will increase investments in inclusive education in Alberta’s K-12 education system, including putting twice as many educational assistants in Alberta classrooms.

  • Improvements will include the creation of a new independent learning assessment agency under the Ministry of Early Childhood. The agency would perform comprehensive testing of students who are identified with potential learning challenges. This will help ensure children with challenges are identified as early as possible, so that they can receive assistance as soon as possible.

  • Current annual funding for inclusive education to school boards is approximately $460 million per year. This amount will be increased to $690 million per year.

  • Funding for inclusive education will be earmarked to school boards so that it is only used for inclusive education.

  • A new three month completion timeline will be established to complete an Independent Learning Plan for K-12 student assessment upon a request from a parent/guardian, teacher or principal.

  • An additional funding date of January 15th will be established to provide school boards with additional funding for any students who have arrived from outside Canada after the school year has already begun. This additional funding will recognize the commitment of school boards and educators to helping new Canadians have good learning outcomes.

  • These measures will be in addition to ongoing efforts to reduce class sizes and build more schools.

 Mandatory Vaccines:

An Alberta Party government will require children to have up-to-date immunizations in order to attend a publicly-funded school.

  • In order to register a child to attend a publicly-funded school, parents will need to provide proof that the child’s immunizations are up-to-date under Alberta Health Services’ Routine Immunization Schedule.

  • The requirement will apply to all schools that receive public funding, including schools falling under the jurisdictions of public and separate school boards and Charter schools. It will cover all publicly-funded elementary, junior high and senior high schools.

  • All immunizations included in Alberta’s Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule will continue to be offered to children in Alberta free of charge, as per Alberta Health Services’ existing approach.

  • As noted by Alberta Health Services, childhood immunizations not only arm children against disease but are also important in helping protect vulnerable people in the community and the community as a whole.

  • Alberta Health Services provides information about the benefits and importance of immunizing children at www.immunizealberta.ca

  • Details around the implementation of the requirement (such as medical exemptions and the list of required immunizations) will be developed in consultation with Alberta’s medical community and with a view to models used in other jurisdictions.

Source: Alberta Party website

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www.freedomconservativeparty.ca

Leader: Derek Fildebrandt

WORLD CLASS EDUCATION

Grades K-12:

  • Equally fund all students at certified public, private and separate schools in Alberta and guarantee funding for homeschooling
  • Pass a Parent's Bill of Rights to guarantee choice and control over education
  • Cancel the NDP's new curriculum and replace it with measured learning targets allowing school boards to set their own curriculums
  • Respect the right of private educational institutions to practice their own religious or cultural beliefs without discrimination

 

Colleges and Universities:

  • Revoking funding for institutions that do not protect freedoms of speech, association and assembly
  • Make student union membership voluntary
  • Allow post-secondary institutions to partner with K-12 schools to specialize in vocational training

 

Source: Freedom Conservative Party Website

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unitedconservative.ca

Leader: Jason Kenney

The United Conservative plan

To ensure that education is a key advantage for Alberta, a UCP government will embrace and expand Alberta’s world-leading model of school choice, a model that recognizes that every child is unique, and that parents, not politicians, know what is best for their children.

Alberta’s children deserve an excellent, world-class education that will equip them intellectually, socially, and with jobs-ready skills for life.

If elected, a UCP government will:

1) Maintain or increase education funding while seeking greater efficiency by reducing administrative overhead and pushing resources to front line teachers.

2) Continue to build new schools. This will include ordering an immediate audit of class sizes to determine what happened to previous funding dedicated to class size reduction, and prioritizing public infrastructure funds for schools and health care infrastructure.

3) End the focus on so-called “discovery” or “inquiry” learning, also known as constructivism, by repealing Minister Order #001/2013. A UCP government will develop a new Ministerial Order which focusses on teaching essential knowledge to help students develop foundational competencies.

4) Pause the NDP’s curriculum review, and broaden consultations to be open and transparent, including a wider range of perspectives from parents, teachers, and subject matter experts. Curriculum reform should begin by determining the key knowledge and skills that Alberta students should possess by the time of their high school matriculation, written in plain language that students, parents, and teachers can understand. The curriculum should focus on developing foundational competencies. Teaching methods should focus on those that produce the best outcomes, such as phonics and proven math instruction methods. The social studies curriculum should be taught without political bias, offering an objective understanding of Alberta, Canadian and world history, geography, and civic literacy. Basic financial literacy should also be included in the curriculum.

5) Reform student assessment so that students, parents and teachers can clearly identify areas of strength and weakness. This will include:

  • Bringing back the Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Test
  • Returning to a 50/50 split between Diploma and school grades for Grade 12
  • Implementing language and math assessments for students in grades 1, 2, and 3 to help both parents and teachers understand and assess progress in the critical early years, and remedy where necessary

6) Require clear, understandable report cards

7) Focus on excellence in outcomes, including benchmarking the Alberta education system against leading global jurisdictions; ensuring teachers have expertise in subject areas by introducing teacher testing; expand options for schools to facilitate expertise; requiring that the education faculties in Alberta’s universities themselves require that teachers take courses in the subjects they will one day teach in schools.

8) Support safe schools that protect students against discrimination and bullying; and reinforce the need for open, critical debate and thinking as key to lifelong learning.

9) Proclaim the Education Act (2014), taking effect on September 1, 2019. A UCP government will trust the hard work done by those who created the 2014 Education Act, and proclaim that legislation, already passed by the Legislature. Unlike the NDP’s curriculum review, conducted largely in secret, the 2014 Education Act resulted from years of widespread public consultation.

10) Affirm parental choice through a Choice in Education Act Alberta has a strong legacy of diversity in education. A UCP government will uphold the established right of parents to choose the education setting best suited for their children including: public, separate, charter, independent, alternative and home education programs.

A UCP government will:

  • Introduce a Choice in Education Act which will
  • Affirm parents have primary responsibility for the education of their children
  • Add to the preamble of the Education Act recognition of Section 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
  • Protect the status and funding of independent schools in legislation given that they save the public education system $168 million annually.14
  • Facilitate the creation and operation of new charter schools by
  • Lifting the cap on the number of charter schools
  • Lifting charter school enrolment caps
  • Allowing charter schools to own property
  • Treat charter schools as priorities above other possible uses for surplus public-school infrastructure
  • Support and encourage an expansion of alternative programs in the public system
  • Respect the constitutional right to separate schools
  • Maintain funding for independent schools and home schoolers at current levels
  • Encourage the sharing of busing and infrastructure where appropriate, while respecting the distinctive nature of both systems
  • Amend the Education Act to implement the Leadership Quality Standards
  • Ensure that requests from parents for blended homeschool programs are facilitated

11) Reduce paperwork burdens on teachers, principals and other school staff, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens throughout the system.

12) Review and implement selected recommendations from the Task Force for Teaching Excellence. This will include:

  • Establishing alternative pathways to teaching certification for those in specialized areas of knowledge
  • Introducing more regular assessment of teacher performance
  • Ensuring subject-matter competence

A UCP government will work with parents, teachers and principals to once again make Alberta’s schools the choice-based, excellent classrooms that all Albertans desire and deserve. A UCP government will defer to parents as the natural guardians of a child’s best interests and will trust teachers as professionals.

13) Review the current funding formula to ensure that rural schools have adequate resources to deliver programs in an equitable way.

Currently many rural schools are unable to offer programs that the Department of Education requires of them because of small and shrinking enrollment. This sometimes causes families to move away, exacerbating the problem of population and funding decline. A UCP government will determine how modifications to the funding formula could resolve these challenges.

Source: UCP website