THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC
EDUCATION IN ALBERTA
Stephen Murgatroyd, PhD FBPsS FRSA
THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC
Stephen Murgatroyd, PhD FBPsS FRSA
context in which we
are all working to
build a great school
system for all
Look at the issues that
should be of concern
MY LAST PRESENTATION…
THE BIG PICTURE CONTEXT
Slowing levels of growth and significant
growth in debt ($250 trillion) suggest a
recession of substance is just round the
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
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
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
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.
Understanding Context: Budget 1
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.”
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)
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
In addition, leaders were asked to freeze spending unless it impacts safety, security or legal
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
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
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
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
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
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]
SOME BIG EDUCATION ISSUES THAT
YOU MIGHT WANT TO THINK
SCHOOL BOARDS GONE NOW
OR SOON OR DRAMATICALLY
POWER OF BOARDS REDUCED
Look to the funding model
PRIVATIZATION & SCHOOL CHOICE
THE SKILLS GAP & THE NEW WORLD OF
THE BATTLE OVER CURRICULUM
December 3rd, 2019
CLASSROOM COMPLEXITY / SPECIAL
NEEDS / INCLUSION
INCREASED POVVERTY AND INEQUALITY
There will be more to come…are you
ready? Are you able? Are you willing
to stand up and be counted?
We put students and their learning
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
Time To Activate A New Coalition of Parents,
Teachers, Students, Trustees
“Victory will never be
found by taking the path
of least resistance” Winston
Per capita funding: https://www.teachers.ab.ca/News%20Room/NewsReleases/Pages/Funding-Documents-Reveal-16-Per-Cent-Cut-for-K%E2%80%933-Students.aspx
Ontario elementary teachers are going ahead with work to rule (the others still not allowed to announce work action but its kind of expected), Saskatchewan has announced a bargaining impasse, the BC government recently lost a supreme court decision about its refusal to follow the negotiated contract, and the Alberta government is openly attacking the profession on a daily basis and cutting funding to near inoperable levels... And all 4 provinces site the same 3 major issues as items just simply not being addressed and respected: class size, class complexity, and salary (in that specific order)