CHESTERMERE, AB (February 1, 2013): Wildrose Education and Advanced Education Critic Bruce McAllister today wrapped up a week-long education consultation tour in which stakeholders painted a picture of uncertainty about the future of education in Alberta.
Over the last week, McAllister has visited Calgary, Cochrane, Red Deer, Canmore and Lethbridge. He has met with teachers, parent groups and school boards and visited the range of school options available to students in Alberta, including public, private and charter schools. He said although he is encouraged by many innovative ideas and success stories in the communities he visited, a common theme that emerged is the uncertainty around the PC government's election promises, school construction policies and labour deal with teachers. “The message I heard was loud and clear; education stakeholders are on pins and needles on a number of issues and they aren’t getting any answers from the government,” McAllister said. “The PCs have spent themselves in a corner and stakeholders want to know how they will deliver on all of their education commitments given Alberta’s growing budget crisis.” On current labour troubles, McAllister suggested that the government first look at itself in the mirror before looking at teachers as a possible scapegoat. “This government set the tone with their recent 8% MLA pay increases and their reckless spending patterns for the past decade,” McAllister said. “They have no one to blame but themselves.” McAllister said that some of the common concerns he heard from stakeholders were:
- Frustration around the lack of object criteria for determining school infrastructure projects;
- Uncertainty about whether or not the PCs will be able to deliver on any of the 50 new schools and 70 school renovations they committed to in the election campaign; and
- Concern about teacher contract talks and poor government budgeting impacting students in the classroom.
McAllister said he will raise the issues in the Legislature in the upcoming spring session and will continue to meet with parents, teachers and students going forward. “This government seems to say one thing before an election and do another thing after. Albertans don't want to see our children suffer because of this government inability to budget responsibly,” McAllister said. “Years of wasteful spending have finally caught up with us and now essential services like education are feeling the pinch. Wildrose is committed to holding the government accountable for the situation they have put our education system in.”