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Alberta Teachers’ Association releases response to Task Force for Teaching Excellence

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 19, 2014 10:13 am

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On June 15, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) challenged what the association is calling “incomplete and incorrect” information from the Province’s Task Force for Teaching Excellence, with the release of the ATA’s report Great Teachers, Great Schools.

“Alberta’s teachers are committed to excellence and are essential to Alberta’s world-class standing in education,” said ATA President Mark Ramsankar in a statement.

“Despite our concerns about the task force, we want to let teachers, parents and other supporters of public education know about the profession’s view of teaching excellence. Great Teachers, Great Schools provides a clear way forward for supporting teaching in providing quality learning for students.”

As reported in the May 15 edition of Airdrie City View, the ATA called the nearly 200-page Task Force for Teaching Excellence report and recommendations, which was released on May 5, “an assault on teachers.”

The group had concerns about recommendations it said strips teachers of fundamental employment protections, force recertification every five years and grants teaching certificates to individuals who don’t have a teaching degree.

In this most recent response from the ATA, the association proposes alternative strategies that the ATA suggests “would achieve the original objectives for supporting teacher excellence” and proposes revisions to professional growth processes, continuing education requirements, support for administrators and enhanced public awareness of professional conduct and competence processes.

“Our response calls on the government to focus on improving teaching and learning in true collaboration with the profession,” Ramsankar said.

“The minister (Jeff Johnson) should have started this process last year by engaging the teaching profession, but he did not do that. Our submission outlines directions where the minister can work with the profession into the future.”

Calls to Education Minister Jeff Johnson were not returned before press time.

In terms of the ATA’s concern with the Task Force recommendation of teacher recertification every five years, the response suggests this would be a costly undertaking and that money would better be used elsewhere.

“Our initial assessment of the requirements, on a conservative analysis, suggests the allocation of at least $60 million per year to perform these functions,” the response states.

The ATA response outlines a number of concerns over how the Task Force gathered information included in the report and recommendations, calling it “a flawed consultation process” and adding anecdotal reports received by the ATA make it unclear how many of the individuals who began to respond to the online survey continued through to the end.

“There is a more effective alternative approach: active collaboration with the Alberta Teachers’ Association,” the response states.

The association indicated the response is intended to develop constructive alternatives to the recommendations of the Task Force.

The nearly 200-page Task Force report and recommendations was gathered over two months through an online survey, discussion boards, written submissions and regional consultation conducted in 14 communities. It contained input of more than 3,000 Albertans including parents, teachers, students, educational leaders and others.

For more information on the Task Force for Teaching Excellence, visit education.alberta.ca


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