On May 21, 2016 we were very proud to accept the Alberta Teachers’ Association Public Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Education at the ATA’s Annual Representative Assembly. We were overwhelmed and impressed with the dedication to all facets of education displayed by teachers from every corner of the province. It was amazing to see and hear from the representatives from Fort McMurray who travelled to Calgary to attend and participate in the Assembly despite their personal displacement from the Fort Mac evacuation. Numerous stories were shared about teachers helping students during the evacuation and teachers, schools and ATA locals continuing to support everyone who has been impacted by the evacuation. Teachers are the true allies to students in public education and the kind words of support we received will continue to inspire us to work towards a public education system that is truly equitable for all Alberta children.
The following is our acceptance speech:
Thank you, Greg, for your kind words. On behalf of the executive committee of Support our Students Alberta, I am honoured to accept this award. SOS Alberta started on the playgrounds of Alberta schools. Concerned citizens who were living, firsthand, with the results of years of chronic underfunding of education. Citizens who could not stand by without speaking up against more cuts to education. We’d like to recognize everyone who contributed to SOS Alberta including our committee members and citizens at large who sent letters to their MLAs. Thank you to all for caring about public education.Our primary goal last spring was to get people talking about education, about the impact of repeated cuts, and eventually, to bring education to the forefront of the provincial election campaign in 2015. Through viral videos, social and traditional media, education did become one of the key ballot box issues during the election. Since the election, we have put our focus on promoting equitable and accessible public education. We know there are many issues facing educators today, and we want to support and give voice to a stakeholder that often doesn’t get a voice, especially when dealing with the government: the Student. We are proud and staunch supporters of a well-funded, equitable, accessible and barrier-free public education system. All students deserve the same level of opportunity from their schools, whether they are in Milk River or Calgary or High Level or Edmonton. There are still have and have not schools in Alberta, there are schools that exclude students, there are families that face financial barriers just to access public education. Albertans can do better, and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to strengthen public education in Alberta.