Won’t somebody think of the children?!

Hey, Hi, Hello,

Today the Minister of Education, Adriana Lagrange, went back on her word and announced cuts to public education, resulting in approximately 25,000 people being laid off.

It is no coincidence that this announcement was made on a Saturday immediately after the story of Tyler Shandro’s inappropriate behavior went public, and it is no coincidence that the pandemic we’re all weathering is being used as an excuse to push forward with cruel and unnecessary attacks on our public education system.

While the UCP refuses to dismantle their ridiculous “energy war room” claiming that it’s needed to defend our energy sector (read:corporate interests) from attack, they have no problem at all harming Albertans on a regular basis through actions like this.

Many of those being laid off are EAs or Educational Assistants, people who provide care and support for children with special needs or learning delays in and outside of the classroom. Those same EAs have been working to help mitigate the stress the school closures have been causing to parents and children that they work with.

I have heard several people close to me voicing their concerns about their EA losing their income as well as their children losing a vital support person in their lives. What Lagrange fails to understand is the bond these educators have with their students, they are not extras in the movie of our kids’ lives, they are front and center every day. My son, spends much of his day with his EA working on not only academics but on emotional regulation, managing sensory overload, working on receptive language skills and moving safely from activity to activity and place to place. These skills are not minor, and he now has no qualified support in these areas. He isn’t the only one.

Parents have been concerned about the impact of the class shutdown on their special needs children since the beginning, and that concern has been heaped on top of the stresses already being carried thanks to the cuts to PUF and what that would mean for children entering Kindergarten, which were piled on top of the worry about cuts to education funding. For the minister of education to announce cuts resulting in the loss of supports, the loss of livelihoods and the loss of our public educators on a Saturday afternoon as a distraction is, frankly, a slap in the face to the people of Alberta.

The Alberta Teachers Association tweeted out: “Today’s announcement is very concerning. We are worried about the thousands of workers who will be laid off at this very stressful time. Teachers and EAs work closely together to facilitate student learning. EAs were helping with accommodations and to deliver resources to students with inadequate technology. We have concerns about how students with special needs will be supported. Thankfully the federal government is stepping up to protect people and the economy through a humane, far-sighted and compassionate program that will make sure that individuals and the current fragile economy is supported. The Alberta government has missed an opportunity to show real leadership in a crisis by ensuring that thousands of Albertans have continuity of income at this very stressful time. This decision effectively adds 25,000 people to the unemployment line today, including 600 substitute teachers and 20,000 non certified staff.”

I wonder how the UCP will be able to convince anyone that they care about working people in Alberta after this? Some people found out about their layoff via the press release, because the Minister only gave school districts 15 minutes of notice before making these cuts public.

CUPE Alberta Region states that they have checked with BC, Sask and Ontario and received confirmation that Alberta is the only province laying off school support staff during this time.

Having just written a recap of this week, I can understand why people may be feeling powerless, but now is not the time for apathy. Now is the time to speak up.

You can email the Education Minister, Adriana Lagrange at: education.minister@gov.ab.ca

Be sure to CC the premier as well at: premier@gov.ab.ca.

Now remember, be nice about it or else a minister might show up at your house.

Stand up. Speak out. Protect each other.

Calamity out.

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