On May 5, the Alberta NDP promised to hire thousands of teachers and support workers to bolster public education that day, should the party form government on May 29. 

Notley pledged $700 million in funding for public education over the next four years, hiring 4,000 teachers and 3,000 support workers to reduce class sizes provincewide.

However, Premier Danielle Smith and the UCP released funding numbers last month demonstrating an increase in charter school funding by 18.6% compared to a 6.83% increase for public schools, reported Press Progress. The announcement came on the heels of a newly declared $118 million charter school hub for Albertans.

The new public charter school hub will house around 2,000 students, drive innovation in Alberta’s school system, support creativity, lead research initiatives, and partner with post-secondary institutions.

In March 2022, the Alberta government lifted the cap on charter schools under the Choice in Education Act to permit ‘unique programming’ in parent-run schools. Then Premier Jason Kenney argued many charter school students come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have special needs that require additional support.

He maintained that funding is provided per capita for students in private, charter and public schools.

“Despite activists’ claims, charters are not just serving an “elite” population of students. I know this because I teach at one of them,” tweeted Kelden Formosa, a teacher at the Alberta Classical Academy. “My charter school is popular with parents because we provide a unique educational approach that the CBE does not.”

“First-generation immigrant families, mostly from northeast Calgary, comprise a substantial portion of our charter school population,” according to school choice advocate Caylan Ford. 

“Many came to us because the Calgary Board of Education doesn’t operate a single high-performing school in the city’s northeast quadrant,” she said.

In Budget 2022, the UCP allocated $47 million capital for charter school infrastructure expansion. This fiscal year, they committed $42 million to create spaces for 2,000 new students in Calgary and Edmonton over the next three years.

The provincial government plans to invest $2.3 billion in education over the next three years, including support for 58 school projects.

According to the Alberta NDP, 36,000 more students have enrolled in Alberta’s schools since 2019. They claim the UCP has failed to hire a single additional teacher. “They’ve underfunded education and haven’t built schools where they’re most needed,” reads the party’s website.

“An Alberta NDP government will invest in supporting students and education. We will fund every student and classroom, setting targets for classroom sizes. We will do this by hiring 4,000 more teachers and 3,000 educational support staff,” it continues.

“An Alberta NDP government will build and modernize schools where our classrooms are the most overcrowded.”

In addition, they plan to develop a Somali and Filipino curriculum for interested schools while immediately reversing curriculum changes and launching broad public consultations within 100 days of being elected. 

On May 22, Rebel again attempted to ask Notley if an NDP government would commit funding to alternative schooling. Again, she provided no answer.

The Alberta government implemented a new K-6 math, English and physical education and wellness curricula and K-3 French and science curricula and also pledged $85 million in targeted support for students who require extra help with literacy and numeracy after two years of pandemic-impacted learning.

On May 12, Alberta NDP candidate Irfan Sabir said his party would strengthen ethnocultural grants with $39 million in funding over three years if elected. 

“Through these grants, the Alberta NDP will support Albertans and newcomers looking to build a life in our province,” he told reporters. “We will be expanding settlement services, including language translation, employment services, and English language learning, creating better opportunities for Albertans to participate in our growing economy actively.” 

“The Alberta NDP is fully committed to providing wrap-around services and support to newcomers and racialized communities so that everyone in our province has access to the incredible advantage it has to offer,” he said. 

Since 2019, the UCP has announced 106 new schools and modernizations and bolstered K-12 education spending to $8.8 billion this fiscal year. They have also reformed the discipline process for teachers and administrators, creating more transparency and accountability and protecting students.

The UCP also ‘addressed’ class sizes and complex learner needs with a complexity grant, educational assistants and other measures through an $80 million investment in post-pandemic learning loss recovery.

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