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Public Education in Alberta - A Precarious Future

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Presentation to the Public School Boards Association of Alberta, 15th November 2019.

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Public Education in Alberta - A Precarious Future

  1. 1. THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN ALBERTA Stephen Murgatroyd, PhD FBPsS FRSA
  2. 2. THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION Stephen Murgatroyd, PhD FBPsS FRSA
  3. 3. This Presentation Understanding the context in which we are all working to build a great school system for all Look at the issues that should be of concern to trustees
  4. 4. MY LAST PRESENTATION…
  5. 5. THE BIG PICTURE CONTEXT
  6. 6. Global Economy is now “Precarious” (IMF) Slowing levels of growth and significant growth in debt ($250 trillion) suggest a recession of substance is just round the corner. War for talent is lost – so companies are looking to accelerate automation, make much more use of gig workers and redesign business processes to require less labour. In the developed world, demographics are shifting economies and creating new social pressures.
  7. 7. The Economy of Alberta  Slowing of economic growth in Alberta / Canada  High unemployment – 6.6% and high youth unemployment at 13%  Slowing of wage rises in Alberta in comparison to other Provinces (0.5% versus 2.2% in BC)  High levels of job vacancies not filled – skills gap leading to 42,000 unfilled jobs.  There is a recession in the oil and gas sector which shows no sign of ending.  Recent decisions will slow growth of emerging economies – film/TV, gaming, AI and technology.  Net debt of the Government of Alberta to GDP ratio is 10.4% - amongst the lowest in the world for any government
  8. 8. Understanding Context: Demographics of Alberta Alberta continues to grow through immigration – now 4.371 million (580,397 seniors). School population will grow at 2.7% each year to 2027. Dependency ratio changing from 4:1 to 3:1 by 2030 and to 2:1 by 2040
  9. 9. Understanding Context: Government  A government which has chosen to introduce austerity, and which is choosing not to solve the underlying fiscal problem for Alberta – a reliance on oil and gas revenue to fund operations and the persistence of low taxation. Balancing the budget becomes more important than meeting the needs of communities and people.  A government which distrusts evidence-based analysis and prefers to adopt its own interpretations of ”facts” and “evidence” – e.g. tax reductions, carbon taxes, climate change, health care, energy transition.  A government that distrusts and want to reduce the power of unions and the professions.  A government that has high control needs, and low needs for public engagement – as seen this week in the way Facebook Live was manipulated.
  10. 10. Understanding Context: Budget 1 -$269 Million Student numbers up 15,000 “Maintain or increase education funding while seeking greater efficiency by reducing administrative overhead and pushing resources to front line teachers.”
  11. 11. Understanding Context: Budget 2 +$123 million for 250 modular classrooms and +$397 million for 25 new schools / modernizations over 5 years (some via P3’s)
  12. 12. Understanding Context: Budget for Calgary 2019-20 (-$40 million annualized)  Cutting the overall funding allocated to 246 schools by $22 million or 2.5 per cent. This will include eliminating some temporary employee contracts and redeploying some central and Area-based staff to schools to help mitigate this impact.  Cutting overall administration through service unit reductions by 2-10 per cent.  Reducing planned capital spending by $5 million.  Increasing transportation fees mid-year for yellow school bus riders while maintaining overall service levels for 2019-2020. This is necessary due to the elimination of $8 million in provincial government funding.  In addition, leaders were asked to freeze spending unless it impacts safety, security or legal compliance.
  13. 13. Understanding Context: Budget 3  No funding for growth – 15,000 students a year  No funding for wage settlements – seeking a 2%-5% rollback in teacher pay  No funding for significant increases in insurance premiums  $400 million for charter / private schools– Legislation on School Choice coming – consultation launched.  Funding review (as in BC and Ontario)  Proposed pension shift from ATRF to AIMCo seen as problematic by teachers
  14. 14. Understanding Context: Budget 4  Growing student inequality and poverty – reductions in social spending  Less access to post-secondary education in Alberta and at a higher cost – fewer programs  Budget based on assumptions about oil price gains and GDP growth which many see as problematic – higher deficit/debt likely  $4.5 billion tax cut over 5 years to corporations
  15. 15. Understanding Context: Alberta’s Global Education Standing (2015 Data)  Alberta 2nd in the world in Science (behind Singapore) and above all other Canadian jurisdictions [the US score was 496]  Alberta ranked second in the world in Reading (behind Singapore) [the US score was 496]  Alberta scored 511 in Mathematics – placing us 11th in the world and significantly above the OECD average of 490 (the same position as Finland) [ the US score was 470]
  16. 16. SOME BIG EDUCATION ISSUES THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO THINK ABOUT
  17. 17. GOVERNANCE  SCHOOL BOARDS GONE NOW OR SOON OR DRAMATICALLY CHANGED  QUEBEC  NEW BRUNSWICK  NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR  PEII  POWER OF BOARDS REDUCED BC, SASKATCHEWAN  Look to the funding model review.
  18. 18. PRIVATIZATION & SCHOOL CHOICE
  19. 19. THE SKILLS GAP & THE NEW WORLD OF WORK
  20. 20. THE BATTLE OVER CURRICULUM
  21. 21. LARGE SCALE ASSESSMENT S
  22. 22. December 3rd, 2019
  23. 23. CLASSROOM COMPLEXITY / SPECIAL NEEDS / INCLUSION
  24. 24. TECHNOLOGY ENABLED LEARNING
  25. 25. INCREASED POVVERTY AND INEQUALITY
  26. 26. DATAFICATION
  27. 27. THE CHALLENGE to the TEACHING PROFESSION
  28. 28. There will be more to come…are you ready? Are you able? Are you willing to stand up and be counted?
  29. 29. 3 THINGS To Consider.. We put students and their learning first This is not just about money, its about all of our futures Your job is not to do the governments bidding, but to stand up for your students, teachers and district.
  30. 30. Time To Activate A New Coalition of Parents, Teachers, Students, Trustees “Victory will never be found by taking the path of least resistance” Winston Churchill

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