Own The Classroom

Class size is an issue that is an ongoing concern for  us, in fact it was one of the first issues we organized around. Unfortunately, it is an issue that is still looking for leadership and solutions. We’ve written a letter to the Minister of Education proposing a targeted strategy in the spirit of the Own the Podium initiative. 

November 21, 2018

Dear Honorable Minister of Education;

RE:  Class Size Initiative

As you know, Support Our Students Alberta is a non-profit, volunteer run, public education advocacy organization. We formed in early 2015 around front line education issues like class sizes, transportation and under resourcing of schools.

The issues we formed around still exist today. One of the larger unaffected issues around education is large class sizes. As you are aware, no Alberta government has been able to affect positive change towards meeting the Alberta Commission on Learning recommendations of 2003.

The ACOL recommendations are as follows:

K-3 Recommended class size 17

4-6 Recommended class size 23

7-9 Recommended class size  25

10-12 Recommended class size 27

As you know we are nowhere near meeting these targets for Alberta students. As you are also aware, 3.3 billion dollars has been invested in class size initiatives, with no tangible success.

As a result, Support Our Students Alberta is suggesting the Alberta government implement initiatives that have proven successful in setting and meeting targets.  

In 2004 in an attempt to improve Canada’s performance in winter Olympics a non-profit organization was formed to improve our nations results in the games. The result was a multidisciplinary organization, that set timelines and targets. Own the Podium has been by most measures wildly successful in identifying a need, and then working towards meeting goals.

SOS Alberta feels strongly that money, like the 3.3 billion dollars already put towards class size initiatives would be better served if it followed the Own The Podium model.

A multidisciplinary, and multi-level initiative that includes the Government of Alberta, school boards, municipalities, public education advocates (like SOS), the ATA, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Child Services to create timed targets (school builds, staff hires and progressive targets for class sizes) following the existing Own The Podium model would best serve this long standing issue.

If the province and nation can make and meet emissions targets and Olympic targets, we should be able to do the same for classroom targets. #OwnTheClassroom

We would love to meet with you, Honourable Minister David Eggen to further discuss this possibility at your earliest convenience.  

Many kind thanks,

Carolyn Blasetti, Executive Director SOS

Barbara Silva, Communications Director SOS


Further Reading — The Predictable Path To Privatization

We recently presented at the 2018 Parkland Institute Institute Conference our presentation,  Alberta Education: The Predictable Path to Privatization challenges Albertan’s to rethink the current state of public education in Alberta. Over the past 3.5 years we had the privilege of investigating  Alberta’s education system and investigating education systems around the globe. Alberta’s current system has not developed in a vacuum, in fact Alberta has been the leader in Canada in the privatization of our education system following the lead of many other nations on a very predictable path. We’ve collected here just some of the articles, literature that we have used to understand the forces that drive the privatization of education systems.

Public vs Private Schools

Des parallèles à tracer autour de l’école entre la France et le Québec

How are America’s public schools really doing?

Does Attendance in Private Schools Predict Student Outcomes at Age 15? Evidence from a Longitudinal Study

Are private schools better than public schools? Perception versus reality

Public schools losing out in political power plays

Extra $4 billion funding allows struggling private school to finally build 3rd swimming pool | The Chaser

‘End education snobbery. There’s no out-of-work brickie or sparkie’ | Education | The Guardian

Are Private Schools Better than Public Schools? – IPE/BC

Community Schools Playbook

Private school edge has more to do with advantages the students bring.

The only way to end the class divide: the case for abolishing private schools | News | The Guardian

Does Attendance in Private Schools Predict Student Outcomes at Age 15? Evidence From a Longitudinal Study – Robert C. Pianta, Arya Ansari, 2018

No, private schools aren’t better at educating kids than public schools. Why this new study matters. – The Washington Post

Schools in rich areas are more than twice as likely to be ‘outstanding’

Private school funding increase irks associations | Vue Weekly

Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

Voters Widely Support Public Schools. So Why Is It So Hard to Pay for Them?

Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins


Public school proponents push for budget cut to Alberta private schools | Edmonton Journal

Public school board lobbies for government to phase out private school funding

Funding Review Won’t Include Amount of Money, Private Schools | The Tyee

Are Private Schools Immoral?

Revealed: The hidden cost of free schools

Losing Students, Private Schools Try to Change – WSJ

Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes

Academic Outcomes of Public and Private High School Students: What Lies Behind the Differences?

Do traditional public schools benefit from charter competition? – The Washington Post

NAACP sticks by its call for charter school moratorium, says they are ‘not a substitute’ for traditional public schools

Civics, Community, and Allyship: Why We Chose Our Local Public School – IntegratedSchools.org

Voucher Program Helps Well-Off Vermonters Pay for Prep School at Public Expense – ProPublica

Campaign to defund private schools backed by NDP: Kenney

Public Schools Aren’t Failing Us. We’re Failing Our Schools (And Our Kids).

The Impact of Charters on Neighborhood Schools – Simply Told – Network For Public Education

Worldwide, School Choice Hasn’t Improved Performance



Talking Across The Pond About Ed Reform 2.0

When Communities Lose Their Public Schools For Good, What Happens To The Students? Michigan May Soon Find Out.

Bezos to launch network of preschools: ‘The child will be the customer’

A Layperson’s Guide to the ‘Destroy Public Education’ Movement

Analysis | What and who are fueling the movement to privatize public education — and why you should care

How ‘segrenomics’ underpins the movement to privatize public education – The Washington Post

CURMUDGUCATION: Progressives and the DeVosian Embrace

Commericalising education: profiting from reform!: Journal of Education Policy: Vol 33, No 5

Winning Battles on Education – Progressive.org

Philip Pullman attacks ‘monstrous’ English education policy | Books | The Guardian

Charter school founded by Southwest Key wants to educate immigrant kids housed at the nonprofit’s shelters | Education | Dallas News

Privatization Report Card – Network For Public Education

How Money Matters for Schools

Think-tank calls for increased private school enrolment in Alberta

Greg Thompson | EduResearch Matters The Creeping Commercialisation of Public Schools

Patti Bacchus: Will we ever stop funding private schools? | Georgia Straight Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly

Dan Cohen: The spread of education reform models

Danielle Smith: Maybe we need to defund public schools | Globalnews.ca

Should the Government of Alberta be funding private schools? | Foothills School Division

Editorial: Private schools save money

When schools look like resorts questions about funding must be asked

What school has $42 million in the bank but still gets $5 million a year in public subsidies? Webber Academy

Trimble: Public schools need to get their own system in order | Calgary Herald

Time to start ‘phasing out’ funding for private schools, says trustee on Edmonton public board

Private School Tax Deductions and Credits

MacLeod and Clemens: Increased funding for independent schools is unlikely to improve education

Tran-Davies: Education minister needs to do his homework on failing math policies | Calgary Herald

Opinion: Failure to properly teach math disenfranchises at-risk youth – Vancouver Sun

How Jeb Bush’s Florida Plan for School ‘Choice’ Created an Industry of Corruption and Chaos | Alternet

Inside Silicon Valley’s Big-Money Push to Remake American Education – Mother Jones

Elizabeth Farrelly: Why private schools should be banned

The Expansion of McTutor World: What’s Diving the Private Tutoring Explosion?

How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom

How closing public schools undermines democracy – Salon.com

The “Polite Revolution”: What Can Canadian Educators Learn from researchED?

Betsy DeVos Thinks Schools Are Like Food Trucks. Seriously. Read What She Said. – Mother Jones

http://www.erpjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ERPV35-2_MacKay-B.-Firmin-M.-2008.-The-historical-development-of-private-education in Alberta

School Vouchers: Transubstantiate Your Cash For Fun and Profit | gadflyonthewallblog

The Privatization Prophets

Head to the school gate – and see how politics is failing our children | Gaby Hinsliff | Opinion | The Guardian

Parents turning to tutors as class sizes swell – Calgary – CBC News

School fees a Klein legacy | Vue Weekly

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

Neoliberalism and the Non-Profit Social Services Sector in Alberta

Editorial: Public funding of private schools is a smart policy

Schooling, privatisation and post-truth politics | Unite for Quality Education

School Choice



Building Charter School Identity | Research @ Werklund

When ‘School Choice’ Means the Opposite




The best choice for your child’s school is most likely the local school

Ottewell Junior High students lobby minister, school trustees for more high schools


Opinion: The myth of school choice

United Conservative Party Defend School Choice

School Choice is a Lie. It Does Not Mean More Options. It Means Less. | gadflyonthewallblog


Episode 67: Charter Schools and Progressive Values: A Lesson for Democrats | BustED Pencils


Independent religious schools, parents challenge gay-straight alliance bill – Edmonton Journal

Many parents face disappointment over primary school places | Education | The Guardian

What’s your Grade 9 plan? Students, educators wrestle over streaming | Windsor Star

Parents brave cold for limited spots at Royal Vale School – Montreal – CBC News

“National School Choice Week” Gives You No Choice At All – Progressive.org

Expanding High-Quality Educational Options for All Students: How States Can Create a System of Schools Worth Choosing

School’s out: What happens to a community when students leave their neighbourhood schools?

http://www.taapcs.ca/pdf/The%20Politics%20of%20Educational%20Reform_Bosetti%20&%20Butterfield.pdf The Politics Of Educational Reform: The Alberta Charter School Experiment 20 Years Later

A broad spectrum of choices

The Troubled History of School Choice – AAIHS

Russ on Reading: School Choice: An Ugly Idea

Evidence Mounts That School Choice Isn’t Delivering Promised Results, Not That K-12 Privateers Are Listening | Alternet

Three big problems with school ‘choice’ that supporters don’t like to talk about

The Broken Promises of Choice in New York City Schools – NYTimes.com

The masquerade of school choice: a parent’s story

Trump seeks to slash Education Department but make big push for school choice

Teacher: What school ‘choice’ looks like from my classroom

Private school pupils are having to take ’empathy lessons’ because they don’t understand the world

Sweden school choice: The country’s disastrous experiment with Milton Friedman and vouchers.

Four new science programs proposed amid growing demand for STEM education | Calgary Herald


UBC Press | The Equity Myth – Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities By Frances Henry By Enakshi Dua By Carl E. James By Audrey Kobayashi By Peter Li By Howard Ramos By Malinda S. Smith

Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?

One of the Best Ways to Protect LGBTQ Students Might Be Fighting for School Choice

Jason Kenney Headlined an Education Conference Sponsored By Homophobic and Creationist Fringe Groups

Rural Alberta schools need further supports – Ponoka News

What Does “Revolution” Look Like in Education? – Progressive.org

Community Schools: A Powerful Strategy to Disrupt Inequitable Systems

Canada’s children have high rates of suicide, abuse, infant mortality: report | CBC News

NAIS – The Influence of Affluence

Study: Poor Kids Who Believe in Meritocracy Suffer – The Atlantic

Why the principal in the viral video of Upper West Side integration debate believes in school diversity

Program Overlap Matrix

Research: Grammar schools do not do better and should be scrapped

Cooking classes connect families, community at Brandon’s Betty Gibson School – Manitoba – CBC News

Opinion | The Misguided Drive to Measure ‘Learning Outcomes’ – The New York Times

Stuck in the past: the UK needs to produce creative thinkers not exam-passing machines

Eastglen tracks its students to steer them to graduation

‘Drill and kill’? English schools turn to scripted lessons to raise standards

Passive Oppression in Education: Fueling the Achievement Gap

Disengaged by Design: The Neoconservative War on Youth – Long View on Education

The Testing Charade | Ed Magazine

The Psychology of Inequality | The New Yorker

The clues that could explain our falling PISA marks

The Children Must Play

The Inequity of the Traditional Grading System – Aaron Daffern

‘Working-class children get less of everything in education – including respect’ | Education | The Guardian

https://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Research/COOR-101-3%20Renewing%20Albertas%20Promise.pdf A Great School For All

Public Education ‘School Fees’: A Look at What Parents Are Paying Across Canada | The Tyee

Results drive in schools damaging pupils’ mental health | News

Why School Sucks (hint: it’s not because it’s “boring”)

Here’s an Idea: Guarantee Every Child an Excellent Education – gadflyonthewallblog

Community Schools: An Evidence-Based Strategy for Equitable School Improvement

Why Care About Other People’s Children | gadflyonthewallblog

The Great Hope: Kindergarten and Community – Katie Mgongolwa

https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/32507/1/Pistiolis_Ioanna_V_201206_MA_thesis.pdfThe Results and Implications of Fundraising in Elementary Public Schools: Interviews with Ontario Principals

Forget chocolate bars – companies pitch new fundraising schemes to schools

Rural Ontario school closings hit communities hard  | Toronto Star

‘There’s got to be a better way’: bus funding model makes rural schools inaccessible

School Choice & Segregation

Charlottesville’s Other Jim Crow Legacy: Separate and Unequal Education

Writer Nikole Hannah-Jones issues a challenge to parents in Philadelphia and beyond | The notebook

Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special-Education System

White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege

Toronto is segregated by race and income. And the numbers are ugly | The Star

La ségrégation scolaire au secondaire, une dérive largement ignorée | Le Devoir

A school divided: What French immersion has done to Suddaby | KitchenerPost.ca

How French immersion has created a two-tier education system | TheRecord.com

Opinion | How Entitled Parents Hurt Schools – The New York Times

Episode 8 – Gentrification, Segregation, and Education – a deLayed teacher

Black students in Toronto streamed into courses below their ability, report finds | CBC News

Elite Schools Make Few Offers to Black and Latino Students

The Broken Promises of Choice in New York City Schools

Mandarin bilingual program expands to south Calgary middle school – Calgary – CBC News

Ontario school data shed light on effects of math-class divisions – The Globe and Mail

In push for funding, Ontario’s Catholic school boards enrolling more non-Catholics – The Globe and Mail

Just say ‘non’: The problem with French immersion – Macleans.ca

Le Devoir | Nouvelles, actualités, politique, culture et chroniques

Kindergarten registration could see some students facing lotteries to access school of choice | Calgary Herald

Proposed tests for reception children ‘verging on the immoral’ | Education | The Guardian

Badass Teachers Association: The Different Flavors of School Segregation by Steven Singer

Opinion: Most Albertans see benefit of public funding for religious schools – Edmonton Journal

Setting up a Skills Academy

Millions of extra dollars go to Indianapolis magnet schools that have fewer poor students | Chalkbeat

Toronto school board’s draft proposal to ‘reform’ gifted program has parents worried

Toronto school board mulls end to specialized schools in order to reduce learning disparities – The Globe and Mail

How Does School Choice Impact Our Neighbourhood Schools? – The Wejr Board

Educational opportunity in Australia 2015 – Mitchell Institute

Australian education fails one in four young people – but not the wealthy ones

Advocates devastated with province’s rejection of new school for students with learning disabilities | Calgary Herald

More Choice, Less Education – Alberta Views – The Magazine for Engaged Citizens

The Department of Justice Is Overseeing the Resegregation of American Schools | The Nation

Education by the Numbers – NYTimes.com

‘The Way to Survive It Was to Make A’s’ – NYTimes.com

Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes? – NYTimes.com

Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost. – NYTimes.com

The Resegregation of Jefferson County – NYTimes.com

‘I wasn’t comfortable’: Being a student of color in Garfield High’s advanced classes | KUOW News and Information

Hothoused and hyper-racialised: the ethnic imbalance in our selective schools | Christina Ho | Opinion | The Guardian

The real reason we send our kids to French Immersion

The Problem With French Immersion – Looking UpLooking Up

Where Did All The Integrated Schools Go? Why Segregation is Still Bad | gadflyonthewallblog

Graphic Essay: Betsy DeVos’ ‘School Choice’ Movement Isn’t Social Justice. It’s a Return to Segregation.

School choice is a scam in segregated neighborhoods | Chicago Reporter

School Choice: Politics of Opportunity and Identity

Toronto’s art school students mostly white, from high-income families, study finds | Toronto Star

How Rich Parents Can Exacerbate School Inequality

As Fewer Kids Attend Neighborhood Schools, Transportation Challenges Intensify

BridgeBetsy DeVos and the segregation of school choice

Mapping ‘White Flight’ Into Charter Schools

NLPS expresses concerns regarding education choices in rural Alberta

Truth: Why vouchers and school choice were created

Grammar schools offer ‘pitifully few’ places to poorer children

Class divide: As French immersion booms, English classrooms shrink

Education Apartheid

Recipe for education apartheid

Educational apartheid is Scotland’s greatest national disgrace | Coffee House

Is Spain sleepwalking into educational apartheid? | World news | The Guardian


Voters send 7 new trustees to a York School Board grappling with racism

Racism in schools is not pass or fail | The Star

‘Diversity of Thought’ is not the problem – Long View on Education

Teachers’ implicit bias against black students starts in preschool, study finds | World news | The Guardian

Eugenics and the Modern Conservative Movement – AAIHS

Toby Young: what is ‘progressive eugenics’ and what does it have to do with meritocracy?

US charter schools put growing numbers in racial isolation

‘Haven’t changed a thing:’ Private school much the same despite prayer appeal

Opinion: Webber Academy case about discrimination, not secularism

Black students hindered by academic streaming, suspensions: Report | Toronto Star

Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s education chief, is living proof white people haven’t gotten over Brown v. Board of Education


#52: Teachers are Running for Office – And to Save Public Education by Have You Heard

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan challenges NDP education record

Greetings from the Minister of Education, the Honourable David Eggen

The Funding of Independent Schools in Alberta

How to Sustain Community Schools − The Partnership for the Future of Learning Publishes New How-To Guide

Building an Education System that Works for Everyone: Funding Reforms to Help All Our Children Thrive – MassBudget

School Board Courage – Long View on Education

United Conservative Party Constitutional Document 2 – Member Policy Declaration – V2.0 (Member Proposal Consolidation)

http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/themes/5532a70aebad640927000001/attachments/original/1429634829/Alberta_NDP_Platform_2015.pdf?1429634829 Alberta NDP 2015 Election Platform

Province urged to overhaul ‘flawed’ approach to funding education | Toronto Star

Follow the Money – Political Donations Database | National Post

Allison Hanes: Quebec Education minister’s vision of the future is refreshing | Montreal Gazette

New Zealand: Government announces end of charter schools

Public education: a right that the Portuguese will fight to defend | Unite for Quality Education

Silva and Blasetti: NDP needs to review how it funds schools

Answers for David Seymour

Finland thinks it has designed the perfect school. This is what it looks like | World Economic Forum

Metro News Nova Scotia School Board Disbanding

Province working with local school districts to build community hubs at future school sites | Calgary Herald

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2017/12/Blasetti%3ASilva.pdf -Recommitting to Public Education, Silva&Blasetti

Eva Moskowitz’s Plan for Education – The Atlantic

How Education Reform Ate the Democratic Party | Jennifer C. Berkshire

Paradoxes of the Finland Phenomenon

NCEE | Finland: System and School Organization

Union City Public Schools

Rethinking Equity – Creating a Great School for All

The Politics of Educational Reform in Alberta

Educational Reform: Failing the Grade – Alberta Views – The Magazine for Engaged Citizens

Books or Band? – Alberta Views – The Magazine for Engaged Citizens

Overhauling Everything Schools Teach Kids – Alberta Views – The Magazine for Engaged Citizens

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success – The Atlantic

Rethinking Schools in the DeVos Era – Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Seriously Mom: Alberta’s tone deaf Bill 1 a.k.a. Ignoring the Elephants

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society | MindShift | KQED News

The Problem With Public Schools Isn’t Low Test Scores. It’s Strategic Disinvestment.

Budget Austerity Treats Public-School Parents Like Criminals | OurFuture.org

Thoughts on the election and education, French immersion spaces, a little yellow school house, and bans – Page 2 | Vancouver Observer – Page 1

https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Roosevelt-Community-Schools-Profile_Web%20(1).pdf Community Schools Problem Solvers

Unwrapping Charter School Titles: Where’s the Innovation?

Fundraising leads to growing inequity among Alberta schools: report

School fees in Alberta triple in five years – Calgary Herald

Municipal Affairs: Education Property Tax – Facts and Information 2018

What Conservatives Get Wrong about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

School Governance in Crisis: Who is Left to Hold School Authorities Accountable?

How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system – The Hechinger Report