Back to school comes with high costs for families

Member of Legislative Assembly Report

By Brian Jean, Leader of the Official Opposition

BRIAN JEAN, MLA of Fort McMurray-Conklin

BRIAN JEAN, MLA of Fort McMurray-Conklin

With Alberta facing one of its toughest economic challenges in decades, there was a lot on the minds of families as kids went back to school last week.

Here in Fort McMurray, parents are seeing costs for education climb. But that’s just the beginning. The NDP’s carbon tax comes into effect in the New Year. This will not only make it more expensive for families to pay for groceries, drive their kids to hockey practice or heat their homes, but it will also raise busing and heating costs for our schools.

That’s money that could put several new teachers or teaching assistants in the classroom, but will instead be directed to provincial coffers for an expensive new bureaucracy.

Here’s how it will hit families’ pocket books. Buses need fuel to run. Combined with gas tax increases in 2015, provincial taxes on diesel have gone up a shocking 100 percent. Whether you drop off your kids at school or they hop on the bus, families will be feeling the pinch.

While affordability is a growing challenge for many families with unemployment on the rise, the thing parents care about most is ensuring they are giving our kids the tools to succeed in the classroom so they can be ready for the real word.
While Alberta’s education system used to be ranked near the top globally, we continue to see declining outcomes on important core subject matters like math, numeracy and literacy.

This past week, education advocates rightly outlined their fears the new curriculum review announced earlier this summer won’t focus enough on improving outcomes in these core disciplines.

After decades of being untouched, it’s clear our curriculum is due for a revamp, but parents want to make sure common sense is put above ideology and that kids stop being experimented on with new educational fads in the classroom.

That’s why Wildrose thinks parents should have a central role at the table so any new developments with our curriculum aren’t just put together by bureaucrats behind closed doors.

We also believe in getting back to basics in curriculum and grading by clearly identifying the knowledge and skills required for each grade level, developing a consistent provincial grading standard between Grades 5-12 and improving transparency concerning student results so parents have the information they need to make decisions regarding their children’s education.

Finally, we have seen troubling signals from the NDP government that they are looking to restrict choice and diversity across our education system in a variety of ways.

This isn’t what Alberta is about, and it’s certainly not what once made our education system the envy of the world.

Next year, let’s find ways to make back to school affordable once again, discover innovative ways to give teachers the resources they need so our kids can succeed in our classrooms and ensure choice and the concerns of parents always remain top of mind in deciding the future of our education system.

Brian Jean is the Leader for the Official Opposition Party and Member of Legislative for Fort McMurray-Conklin. Jean can be reached by email at or by phone at 780-588-7979.

– Connect Weekly –