Our kids deserve the highest quality education.

Math scores are plummeting, report cards are unclear, bussing is a nightmare and alternative programs are under attack.

Sadly, this is the state of education in Alberta. With respect to math, Grade 4 math illiteracy doubled in the few short years since 2011. Today, 13% of Grade 4 students lack basic math skills, up from 6% in 2011. When it comes to maintaining choice in education, several NDP front-groups have been openly calling for a complete de-funding of private schools. Others are also calling for the dismantling of the Calgary Catholic School District. One NDP affiliated organization, SOS Alberta, even went so far as to link choice in education with the tragic and devastating events in Charlottesville.

I also categorically reject the assinine accusation that Alberta’s private schools are for the elite. Here in my community of Cougar Ridge, which is home to two private schools, parents have enrolled their kids in these institutions, by and large, because the public system has failed them. The private school families I know and have met, are regular Albertans like you and me.

As your MLA, I will work to build a stronger educational system.

Here’s how I will do this:

  1. I will advocate that private schools continue to receive public funding. 34,000 students in Alberta attend private schools and their existence serves the public good. On average, the Alberta government spends $13,000 for every student in the public system, but only $5,000 for every student in private schools. In the last five years alone, private schools have saved taxpayers $750 million. In short, it makes fiscal sense to continue funding private schools. Furthermore, by funding private schools, the government ensures that choice in education is maintained. 
     

2. I will advocate for the use of tried and tested methods of math instruction. Math scores in Alberta have been falling rapidly but there has been little action to fix the problem. A significant cause of the recent decline in math scores has been the shift to discovery math. A recent report by the C. D. Howe Institute shows a decade-long decline in math scores across Canada because of the recent promotion of discovery-based methods.

They say, “Recent shifts in math teaching practices coupled with radical, discovery-based math curricula are seriously hampering math learning by Canadian students.”

The debate about discovery-math continues, not just in Alberta, but across Canada. Research exists supporting and condemning discovery math. All the while, one thing is certain. Math scores are falling. While educational consultants, researchers, and academics continue to postulate about the best way to teach math, our kids are suffering. 

In comparison, students in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Korea and Japan consistently surpass Canada in math scores. There is undeniably a cultural component to how math is viewed and understood. Ian Vanderburgh, Director of the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing at the University of Waterloo stated, “There’s lots of math phobia out there and it’s very easy to pass it along to our kids.”

We must not only use tried and tested teaching methods, but we must also begin to change the way we view math. Effectively, if we want to strengthen math in Alberta we must collectively move past our phobia of math and approach the subject with discipline and confidence.

3. I will fight to bring more transparency to class-size reduction funding and push for a complete review of the program. A 2018 report from the Auditor General showed that despite a massive investment of $2.7billion over 13 years across the province, Alberta Education has failed in reducing class sizes. The Auditor General flagged transparency and report for funds that are earmarked for class size reduction initiatives, saying “The sums of money described as class-size initiative, essentially has just morphed into just being part of the base funding to the education sector.” The complete lack of any reporting mechanisms and accountability is not acceptable. These funds have been allocated for specific purposes and there must be very clear reporting to that effect.

If you agree that we must maintain choice in education and fight for better educational outcomes, please sign-up as a member and vote in the upcoming UCP nomination. By doing so, you will help me get on the ballot. This is a critical first step in becoming your next MLA.

Together, we can ensure a fresh start!