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.