On May 21, 2016 we were very proud to accept the Alberta Teachers’ Association Public Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Education at the ATA’s Annual Representative Assembly. We were overwhelmed and impressed with the dedication to all facets of education displayed by teachers from every corner of the province. It was amazing to see and hear from the representatives from Fort McMurray who travelled to Calgary to attend and participate in the Assembly despite their personal displacement from the Fort Mac evacuation. Numerous stories were shared about teachers helping students during the evacuation and teachers, schools and ATA locals continuing to support everyone who has been impacted by the evacuation. Teachers are the true allies to students in public education and the kind words of support we received will continue to inspire us to work towards a public education system that is truly equitable for all Alberta children.
The following is our acceptance speech:
Thank you, Greg, for your kind words. On behalf of the executive committee of Support our Students Alberta, I am honoured to accept this award. SOS Alberta started on the playgrounds of Alberta schools. Concerned citizens who were living, firsthand, with the results of years of chronic underfunding of education. Citizens who could not stand by without speaking up against more cuts to education. We’d like to recognize everyone who contributed to SOS Alberta including our committee members and citizens at large who sent letters to their MLAs. Thank you to all for caring about public education.Our primary goal last spring was to get people talking about education, about the impact of repeated cuts, and eventually, to bring education to the forefront of the provincial election campaign in 2015. Through viral videos, social and traditional media, education did become one of the key ballot box issues during the election. Since the election, we have put our focus on promoting equitable and accessible public education. We know there are many issues facing educators today, and we want to support and give voice to a stakeholder that often doesn’t get a voice, especially when dealing with the government: the Student. We are proud and staunch supporters of a well-funded, equitable, accessible and barrier-free public education system. All students deserve the same level of opportunity from their schools, whether they are in Milk River or Calgary or High Level or Edmonton. There are still have and have not schools in Alberta, there are schools that exclude students, there are families that face financial barriers just to access public education. Albertans can do better, and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to strengthen public education in Alberta.
It was a beautiful day to travel to Edmonton to the Legislature for Budget Day! We were invited to attend the stakeholder lockup and the Budget speech.
As education advocates we are keenly interested in how government prioritizes education in this province. As advocates for a strong, quality and equitable public education system we are pleased with the progress this government has made to responsibly fund education.
By committing to fully fund enrolment growth, this government demonstrates the understanding that education is an investment that pays dividends. This budget also shows a firm commitment to repairing damage caused by the previous government’s year over year of education underfunding.
The commitment to forge ahead with capital projects, such as schools and modernization projects, starts to fill a long standing gap that has gone unaddressed for too long. Forty eight of those projects are on track to being finalized by September, giving Alberta students safe, accessible learning environments.
We believe strongly that the quality and accessibility of a child’s education should not be contingent on the price of oil. This government’s budget and dedication to funding enrolment echoes this sentiment.
We look forward to continuing to work with a government who shares our commitment to public education.
The weather in Alberta is warming up and here at SOS Alberta we are gearing up for a busy spring. We have had some great opportunities recently to reach out to Albertans to talk about public education. Whether we are in a formal meeting, on the playground, or tweeting the latest education policy article, education is an issue that always sparks a lively debate. We are encouraged and inspired by the people we have met and we will continue working towards improving the public education system for Alberta students. We are always ready to listen and we have many opportunities for anyone to participate, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the beginning of March we met with Education Minister David Eggen in Calgary. We have developed a strong working relationship with Minister Eggen. It is great to get support from the provincial government that advocating for public is important and valuable work. We discussed the impact of the provincial budget on education. We reiterated that for education to be truly equitable and accessible in Alberta the issues of eliminating school fees, reducing class size and increasing per student funding must be addressed. We will be in Edmonton on April 14 for the provincial budget. We have been invited to the stakeholder debriefing and hope to hear some good news for Alberta students.
Bill 10 Guidelines and LGBTQ Students
One of our biggest inspirations over the past few months are the students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other allies who have worked to support LGBTQ youth in Alberta schools. Minister David Eggen has shown leadership in ensuring Bill 10 legislation is brought into practice at Alberta schools. On March 29 we attended the CBE Board of Trustee meeting and spoke in support of the CBE policy changes related to Bill 10. SOS Alberta strongly advocates for barrier-free access to public education. We believe in safe and supportive learning environments for LGBTQ students across Alberta as this upholds our students inalienable right to education free of discrimination. We believe that these guidelines, and the resultant policies developed by Alberta school boards, are a move towards creating a stronger, more supportive future for Alberta’s schools that allow barrier-free access to public education.
Students of Alberta
We’ve all heard of Humans of New York and here in Alberta we now have Students of Alberta. OnMarch 11 we launched a new initiative on our Facebook page highlighting Alberta students. Every week we feature a different Alberta student, sharing their story in their own words. We’ve had some wonderful submissions and we strongly encourage everyone to take a look by visiting our Facebook page . We are always looking for submissions and are keen to share student experiences. What is your favourite part of school, what you do like or don’t like? Any story you would like to share we want to hear it! And a huge thank you to our contributors.
Progressive Cultural Association
Recently we were invited by Gurbachan Brar of the Progressive Cultural Association of Calgary (PCAC) to attend their monthly meeting to speak about education issues. PCAC is a group of Calgarians who meet once a month to discuss current political and social issues. We had an energetic discussion, with Punjabi translation about public education and religion. The consensus of the group was that public education should be available to all children in Alberta regardless of religion, cultural group, language or economic issues, and that there should be a separation of religion and school. It was fun to share ideas with this group and we would love to connect with them again.
CBE – Budget and Transportation Public Engagement
The CBE recently held several public engagement sessions and we took the opportunity to attend. The sessions focused on the CBE budget and transportation issues. We are always looking to better understand all the factors that affect education. These sessions are an important opportunity for us to meet and interact with parents, board administration and trustees.
Thanks to everyone who has offered support and encouragement over the past year. If you would like more information or if you have any questions or concerns regarding SOS Alberta or education in Alberta please feel free to contact us. If you would like to become more involved with SOS Alberta we are hosting a meeting in Calgary Sunday April 17 at 2:00pm. Please RSVP to email@example.com to attend.
Students of Alberta
SOS Alberta wants to give you the chance to highlight your student and their experience in schools across Alberta.
These Facebook posts will be student-centred, to highlight and share their daily experiences. We will not name your student, but please include their age, grade and school board. We will consider any photos included as permission to post. Your photo can show as much or as little of your student, depending on your comfort level.
This is an excellent opportunity to start a dialogue with the student(s) in your life and to highlight the diversity of experiences in Alberta’s public education system.
Our first student will be featured on Friday, March 11. Please go to our Facebook page and send us your submissions for future Students of Alberta posts.
October and November have been quite busy for the SOS Alberta network. Here is what we’ve been working on since our last newsletter:
Alberta Budget 2015
Thank you to Calgary MLAs, Rick Fraser and Craig Coolahan, for providing SOS Alberta with two guest passes to attend the reading of the Provincial Budget in the Alberta Legislature on October 27.
We were very pleased with the tone of the budget, happy to hear that education funding has been stabilized in the province, and that the proposed elimination of “funding for growth” has been reversed. That said, there was no mention of addressing class sizes, and reducing school fees for families is a budget goal that appears to have been pushed further along the fiscal calendar. Here is a link to Alberta Budget 2015 for your own reference. There is still work to be done.
If you’ve been following us on Facebook and Twitter, you already know that on October 30, three representatives from the SOS Alberta network were granted a meeting in Edmonton with Education Minister, David Eggen! We reiterated to the Minister that we believe that guaranteeing equal access to a quality public education for all students in Alberta’s English, French, and Catholic schools is best achieved by reducing school fees for families, decreasing class sizes, and increasing overall per-student funding in the province. These priorities were well-received by Minister Eggen, and we had a very positive discussion with him about our areas of concern for public education in Alberta.
The Social Summit
Most recently, SOS Alberta members attended The Social Summit in Calgary, with the goal of increasing our social media reach and our engagement with the public. The three day conference provided those in attendance with ideas and tools for communicating and engaging with their networks and supporters. A huge thank you to The Social Summit community for donating tickets to SOS Alberta, and helping us expand our network!
We want your input
SOS Alberta is planning a follow-up meeting with Minister David Eggen in the New Year. The SOS network wants to take your concerns directly to the minister. Share your feedback and concerns with us on Facebook or Twitter and have your voice heard!
Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign last spring; we put education issues at the forefront of the election conversation. Over 1,500 Albertans signed the SOS letter to stop proposed budget cuts to public education and joined our website campaign sending letters to their MLAs and the four provincial party leaders. Thank you! Your voice was heard, and last May, the incoming provincial government halted the budget cuts and restored funding for the 2015-2016 school year. At SOS Alberta our goal is to keep our voice strong by staying connected with each other. Let’s support our students; like us on facebook, and send us a tweet so we can let the provincial government hear what Albertans are saying about education.
If you are just joining the SOS cause, here are some FAQs:
Who are we? We are you. We are a grassroots organization of parents working to support public education in Alberta’s English, French, and Catholic Schools. We are independent and nonpartisan, and we do not receive any funding.
What do we stand for? We stand for equal access to quality public education for all students in Alberta.
What are our top three concerns? Reducing school fees for families, decreasing class sizes, and increasing overall per-student funding in Alberta.
The 2015-2016 school year is underway, and there is a new provincial budget on the horizon. We want to hear from you. What does your community school looks like this year?
• What are class sizes at your child’s school?
• Are your child’s school fees higher, or lower this year?
• Does your school have specialist or resource teachers this year?
Share the SOS newsletter and website with friends, family, and your school council. Let us know about your experiences, or if you have any other concerns about public education in Alberta. We want to hear what your community school looks like. Tell us what’s good, tell us what’s bad; let’s learn from each other, so we can help each other. Thanks for supporting our students!