Friday Focus: Back to School

This week’s Friday Focus is a special Back to School Edition looking at ways to improve education in Alberta. 

Ditch the draft UCP Curriculum

Last March, the UCP revealed the draft of its updated K-6 curriculum. This controversial document immediately dominated the political discourse in Alberta. Parents and teachers alike voiced their concerns and made it clear: this is not the curriculum our children need. 

The UCP must take the feedback they’ve received and go back to the drawing board.  Education specialists, teachers and parents must head up the process of curriculum development, not politicians.

COVID Support for Schools 

As students return to school, local school boards have stepped up their efforts to keep students and teachers safe. However, the provincial government should be playing a more significant role in helping local educators keep schools safe. At a bare minimum, we should see clear guidance on masking requirements, greater capacity for online learning and enhanced financial support for schools.

Reducing Class Sizes

In the chaos of COVID and curriculum reviews, it’s easy to forget about the systemic issues plaguing our education system. The most pronounced is our overcrowded classrooms. Unfortunately, both Conservative and NDP governments have failed to tackle this problem constructively, and class size guidelines continue to be ignored. 

Large classes are detrimental to learning, especially for younger students. If we want to set our children on the path to success, it’s time to hold governments accountable on this issue. That is why in the 2019 election, we put forward a plan to replace class size guidelines with class size caps. Legislated caps on class sizes would ensure the provincial governments adequately fund education and give each student the environment they need to succeed. 

Healthy Students 

A healthy student is a successful student. We must do more to promote physical and mental health in the classroom. This under-discussed issue is of critical importance to our children's futures. Our provincial government needs to make this a priority. 

Policies that should be implemented immediately in Alberta’s schools are:

  • A Healthy Lifestyle Program that includes banning junk food from schools.
  • Fully-funded comprehensive healthy lifestyle training.
  • Expanding mental health supports available in schools to students. 

Helping students stay healthy now will not only improve their classroom experience, but it will also set them on the path to healthier lives as adults. This will have the added benefit of reducing the strain on an overburdened health care system. 

Forward-Looking Post-Secondary

Post-Secondary Education is increasingly important for Alberta to stay competitive in the global economy. 

The UCP approach to education is making it less affordable and compromising its quality. An Alberta Liberal government would reverse the cuts and change the funding model. 

We would implement polocies to help more low-income and out-of-work Albertans find opportunities at post-secondary institutions. The Alberta Liberals and I recognize post-secondary institutions for what they are: economic drivers and creators of opportunity. 

There are, of course, many more ways we can improve education in Alberta. I encourage you to share your ideas with me. If you are passionate about improving education in Alberta, please consider reaching out to our Policy Chair ([email protected]) to join our Education Policy Working Group.  

Thank you for your time and support. 

Best of luck to all the students and parents starting the new school year.