Kenney announces plan to bring common sense to education

CALGARY, AB (March 25, 2019) – Today, United Conservative leader Jason Kenney outlined the United Conservative education platform.

“As math scores plunge and report cards become increasingly difficult to understand, a United Conservative government will reset the curriculum rewrite, restore fundamentals to math and affirm the primary role of parents in choosing how their children are taught,” Kenney said. “It’s time to bring common sense to education.”

After four years of NDP government: class sizes in Alberta have continued to increase; math and reading scores have declined; Alberta’s successful tradition of school choice has been under attack; the carbon tax has taken valuable resources away from classrooms; and curriculum reforms have been taking place largely in secret.

The United Conservative plan laid out by Kenney will:

  1. Maintain or increase education funding while seeking greater efficiency by reducing administrative overhead and pushing resources to front line teachers.
  2. Continue to build new schools. This will include ordering an immediate audit of class sizes to determine what happened to previous funding dedicated to class size reduction, and prioritizing public infrastructure funds for schools and health care infrastructure.
  3. End the focus on so-called “discovery” or “inquiry” learning, also known as constructivism, by repealing Minister Order #001/2013. A UCP government will develop a new Ministerial Order which focusses on teaching essential knowledge to help students develop foundational competencies.
  4. Pause the NDP’s curriculum review, and broaden consultations to be open and transparent, including a wider range of perspectives from parents, teachers, and subject matter experts.
  5. Reform student assessment so that students, parents and teachers can clearly identify areas of strength and weakness. This will include bringing back the Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Test, returning to a 50/50 split between Diploma and school grades for Grade 12, and implementing language and math assessments for students in grades 1, 2, and 3 to help both parents and teachers understand and assess progress in the critical early years, and remedy where necessary.
  6. Require clear, understandable report cards.
  7. Focus on excellence in outcomes, including benchmarking the Alberta education system against leading global jurisdictions; ensuring teachers have expertise in subject areas by introducing teacher testing; expand options for schools to facilitate expertise; requiring that the education faculties in Alberta’s universities themselves require that teachers take courses in the subjects they will one day teach in schools.
  8. Support safe schools that protect students against discrimination and bullying; and reinforce the need for open, critical debate and thinking as key to lifelong learning.
  9. Proclaim the Education Act (2014), taking effect on September 1, 2019. A UCP government will trust the hard work done by those who created the 2014 Education Act, and proclaim that legislation, already passed by the Legislature. Unlike the NDP’s curriculum review, conducted largely in secret, the 2014 Education Act resulted from years of widespread public consultation.
  10. Affirm parental choice through a Choice in Education Act. Alberta has a strong legacy of diversity in education. A UCP government will uphold the established right of parents to choose the education setting best suited for their children including: public, separate, charter, independent, alternative and home education programs.
  11. Reduce paperwork burdens on teachers, principals and other school staff, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens throughout the system.
  12. Review and implement selected recommendations from the Task Force for Teaching Excellence. A UCP government will work with parents, teachers and principals to once again make Alberta’s schools the choice-based, excellent classrooms that all Albertans desire and deserve. A UCP government will defer to parents as the natural guardians of a child’s best interests and will trust teachers as professionals.
  13. Review the current funding formula to ensure that rural schools have adequate resources to deliver programs in an equitable way.

“The UCP Education Plan re-establishes priorities in Alberta that are of significant importance to the education of our children,” said Dr. Martin Mrazik, Associate Professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education. “To meet the demands of an increasingly competitive job market, our schools must prepare students by clearly establishing standards of excellence, caring learning environments, and supporting parent choice. The Plan recognizes and asserts these ideals by affirming stable funding, a focus on needed student skills and outcomes, and by promoting a sensible curriculum. Albertans should feel a great deal of optimism about the plan outlined by the UCP.”