Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Idealistic Notion? Not!

It has been said that many prominent decision makers in education have an idealistic notion of what it should look like. I do too and am fortunate to see it right before my very eyes.
We have the unique opportunity to live in a place where the formal education of our children is of utmost importance and I believe that we need to celebrate what we have created and honour our commitment to the people that spend each day with our children…
For the school year beginning September 1, 2011, all Alberta teachers are to receive a 4.3% increase in their salary. This is the end of a 5-year contract, which began in 2007. Instead of paying the increase to teachers, the Government of Alberta is proposing to reopen the contract and make numerous changes. Although ATA President Carol Henderson assures us that the discussions have been respectful, I believe that the intent is not. The intent is clear and I am disheartened that my government is not honouring its word and standing strong with integrity to a commitment.
Some points of interest taken directly from Alberta Education that we need to celebrate are:
Alberta was the first province to establish:
·  Charter schools to encourage innovative approaches to student learning;
·  Quality teaching standards to promote excellence in classroom instruction;
·  A classroom assessment materials program to help teachers evaluate student learning;
·  A language development exchange with Japan. 
And, Alberta is one of the first to offer a registered apprenticeship program to help students begin to learn a trade while in high school.

The Alberta School Act contains five fundamental principles that define a first-rate education for every child in this province:
·      Access to quality education
·      Equity
·      Flexibility and choice
·      Responsiveness
·      Accountability
 Minister Hancock is proposing some interesting transformations that seek to improve teaching and learning conditions surrounding overloaded curriculum and instructional hours. I applaud him and see these points as areas that need to be continually evaluated and reevaluated, and share the minister’s mandate with regard to continuing to develop a long-term vision for education in Alberta. I believe that the way to do this is to treat our teachers with dignity and stand by the original agreement that was provincially bargained for, carry on engaging with the inspiring people of this province and then move through yet another phase of action.
And so… as teacher appreciation week approaches, my gratitude is enveloped around the people with whom I have trusted and continue to trust my children’s lives with. For the countless hours that you spend, preparing interesting and inviting lessons, attending meetings, workshops and lectures, keeping up with professional reading, coaching each child in the particular sport that they shine at or find a challenge with, encouraging each child to try something because you have faith that they can do it, embracing new and diverse ways of reaching those children that sit before you, and remembering that each one of those beings alongside you is someone else’s baby, I offer you my heartfelt thanks.