ATA calls new Alberta Education parent and teacher advisory councils 'unnecessary'

·2 min read
ATA president Jason Schilling, left, said there is nothing in place that will guarantee transparency when it comes to new Alberta Education parent and teacher advisory councils. A spokesperson for Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the initiatives are intended to provide input on key issues. (Jordan Mesiatowsky and Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit)
ATA president Jason Schilling, left, said there is nothing in place that will guarantee transparency when it comes to new Alberta Education parent and teacher advisory councils. A spokesperson for Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the initiatives are intended to provide input on key issues. (Jordan Mesiatowsky and Scott Neufeld/CBC - image credit)

Alberta Education says it's looking for teachers and parents to join two new advisory councils to help strengthen the province's education system — but the province's teachers' union is skeptical.

In a written statement issued Friday, the province said the education minister's parent advisory council and teacher advisory council are two new initiatives meant to provide a new way for input to be heard by Alberta Education on key issues.

But, the Alberta Teachers' Association isn't impressed.

"We view this committee as unnecessary," said ATA president Jason Schilling.

Schilling said the government has heard continuously from teachers and parents around topics like curriculum, COVID-19, class sizes and funding — but no one has been listening.

"Formulating two committees, one for parents and one for teachers, tells me that they're ignoring the feedback that the association for teachers and the association for school councils are giving government. They're just ignoring that," Schilling said.

The province said these two initiatives will be similar to the minister's youth council, who "meet and share ideas with the minister regularly about various education initiatives."

Parents and teachers interested in being a part of the councils can apply online.

"Council members will share perspectives that are diverse and representative of communities across the province," wrote an Alberta Education spokesperson.

"Members will be selected through an open application process and details on the screening process and selection terms are posted on the Alberta Education website."

Those selected will serve a 10-month term, meeting with the minister four times over the course of the term.

The province said members must sign a confidentiality agreement, barring any public commentary on their involvement with the council, unless they have written permission from the education minister.

"There's no way of knowing after the fact what advice or input that they're providing to the minister is going to be listened to, acted on, considered or reflected in any kind of future policy decisions that would be made," said Schilling.

"That's a concern for me, because when you talk about transparency of the process, if you want to hear from individuals, why would you put a gag order on them?"

The province said Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was not available for an interview.

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