Education Minister responds to funding cuts

Letter to the editor

By David Eggen, Minister of Education

Last May, Albertans were offered a choice — a choice between two parties that proposed massive cuts to the education system, cuts that would have left our children in overcrowded classrooms. We proposed something different, which is what Albertans asked us to do.

In a column about our education system, Brian Jean and Mark Smith seemed to forget what their plan would have meant for the education of our children.

Our government has funded enrollment growth in our schools. This means that instead of adding 18,000 new students to our classrooms without a single new teacher, as the Wildrose would have done, we have been able to hire 1,100 new teachers.

Our support for education has meant that the more than 800 teaching assistants who would have been fired because of the previous government’s cuts stayed in our classrooms. Not only did we protect the jobs of those 800 teaching assistants, but we have been able to hire almost 260 more.

What the Wildrose also doesn’t seem to understand is that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t cut funding to education and at the same time reduce school fees. We have increased the funding that boards receive to transport students to and from school by $5.5 million. Their cuts would have left boards with no choice but to increase their transportation fees. Instead, because of funding we have protected, 41 school boards across the province have been able to lower their school fees this year.

Now, we know that school fees are still a significant burden for Alberta families, and that’s why we are moving forward with our promise to lower them. The global collapse in the price of oil has meant that we have had to delay some money for this.

Our government made a promise to protect our children’s education and we are doing just that. Instead of making massive cuts, as the Wildrose proposes, we have provided stable funding for education, and that is exactly what Albertans asked us to do.

– Connect Weekly –