September 23rd, 2020
Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau
Federal Support for Safe Re-Opening of Schools Must Go to Public Schools
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
I am writing today as a Member of Parliament, as a teacher, as a concerned Albertan, and most importantly, as a very worried mother of two children in public schools. As a father, I believe you can appreciate how difficult this decision was for us - whether to send our children back to school during COVID-19. Ultimately, we decided to take the risk and allow our children to return based, in part, on your support.
Thank you for providing $2 billion to provinces and territories to help ensure a safer return to schools. The government’s consent to my motion calling for these funds was a significant commitment to the safety of our children and is helping to ease the incredible burden on teachers and staff. However, in my motion, I explicitly asked that the federal government work with provinces to ensure public dollars were not used to subsidize private education at the expense of our public system.
I am concerned that that is precisely what is happening in Alberta. These federal dollars that should be supporting our underfunded, overcrowded, and poorly resourced public education system are being siphoned off to private schools where students already benefit from smaller class sizes and already have a safer learning environment. While public schools in Alberta are dealing with increasing enrollment and less funding, private schools in my province are using their smaller class sizes and spacious campuses that allow for physical distancing as a marketing tool in the time of COVID.
This morning, I sent my children to public schools where they will meet in classes of 35 and 32 students respectively, and where physical distancing is impossible. Meanwhile Alberta’s private schools, which already receive significantly more public dollars than in any other province, are collecting the same federal dollars per student as their starving public counterparts.
Please ensure that the federal funds provided to Jason Kenney and the UCP Government for safe reopening of schools are used to support public schools. It’s only right and it’s only fair. Our kids and the teachers and staff who care for them are counting you.
Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona