My name is Barbara Silva and I am with Support Our Students Alberta, a public education advocacy organization! We are a citizen’s action group committed to fighting for a universal, accessible and well funded public education system.
Something this government is not interested in.
The other day, in an interview a journalist asked me if we are mad at this government - I'm here today to say that we are not mad.
We are furious.
We are furious on behalf of the child who wakes up sick every morning - worried about navigating a school where lack of support makes them feel unseen, and unheard.
We are enraged for parents who depend on transportation, hour long bus rides in lieu of costly before/after school care, whose costs have just doubled.
We are shocked that families are expected to fundraise for basic resources, like books, furniture, technology, playgrounds.
We are outraged that music teachers, phys ed teachers, art teachers, language teachers are now considered educational luxuries.
We are fuming, that part way through the school year, children who have built trusting relationships with their teachers will have those relationships broken in January due to cruel cuts.
We are furious that in the last 4 years, over 1 billion taxpayer dollars have left the public system to subsidize the private one, and that this party, right now, is debating that that funding should actually increase.
These are immoral decisions made by this government -
This is now a question of educational justice.
So don't ask us to compromise with Jason Kenney.
Don't ask us to negotiate at the expense of Alberta’s children
We see his plan
We know where he is taking public education.
We know Kenney wants to break unions, weaken public service and divide communities.
We know that while they debate a 100% voucher right now, we already have a 70% voucher system in Alberta.
We know he wants you to think about teacher's two months off, instead of the 10 months of dedicated, committed work they put in year over year.
Kenney thinks teaching is a vocation.
We know it is a calling.
Kenney wants you to see education as an individual commodity.
We know it is a common public good.
He wants to attack public education at every opportunity.
We will meet him there every time, to defend it.
We are here to say we are public education proud.
We are community builders, not breakers.
We support students,
We support teachers.
We support public education and we will not stand by and let this government sell it to the highest bidder.
This is the moral issue of our generation - how we stand up for children’s right to public education.
Today is just the beginning, join us.
Choose public education.
SOS Champions! We have had a very busy and productive week thanks to all your engagement. We can feel the momentum building. At time of writing over 3500 Albertans have sent their elected officials their thoughts on the budget and the Choice In Education survey. This means, collectively, over 11,000 letters have been sent across the province. This is why this initiative is important, it allows us to measure the movement, and better still, to grow it.
The question we are asked most is, “What now?”
We cannot stop taking action. This is what oppressive, austerity driven governments fear the most. That the people, citizens, will take collective action.
So here are a few ways YOU can take ACTION in your community. And PLEASE include us in your action - so we can document all the ways Albertans are engaging in their democracy and standing up for public education. This means tagging us in tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts. Email us to let us know what you are working on or if you have questions or ideas - individual action is great, collective action is effective!
ACTION 1: This week is Constituency Week! That means your MLA's will be in their local offices for the week! What a great time to engage in democracy!
We urge you to visit your MLA and do any/all of the following:
If you are feeling sassy, tell them SOS Alberta sent you 😉
Here is a link to your MLA's constituency offices!
If you haven't sent a letter to your MLA, Minister of Education ADriana Lagrange and Premier Kenney yet, expressing your disappointment about the 2019 Budget, please use our online tool to do so!
If you haven't filled out the Choice In Education Survey, please use our online tool to do so. The online response is a protest response to a seriously flawed and biased survey produced by the government. Our protest response includes I Choose Public Education as the main response to each question. The submission can be previews on the website before submitting!
ACTION 4: Organize a watch party. Sometimes, maybe even most times, the greatest movements build from conversations in living rooms, coffee shops and community halls. Hosting a viewing of Backpack Full of Cash is an excellent way to keep this momentum going. This documentary is eerie in its foreshadowing of what privatizing public education looks like. It is the clearest cautionary tale we have.
We currently have three bookings for the month of November, please contact us if you are interested!
ACTION 5: Send us the correspondence you receive from your school regarding budget cuts and fundraising. We need to be able to talk about the actual ways schools and students will experience these cuts.
ACTION 6: Get involved with your school council or other parent groups - better still, send us the contact information for your school council so we can build capacity via that network. This is very difficult and labour intensive work for us to track down every school council contact information (email). If everyone can send us theirs, then many hands make light work.
ACTION 7: For those of you who have contacted us about connecting with SOS AB in Edmonton, please email Yeginfo@supportourstudents.ca and our Edmonton organizer will reach out to you shortly!
ACTION 8: Communicate with us. SOS is a network, and we need to hear from you as much as you from us. We are small, and run on passion and donations - but we are more effective when communication flows.
The greatest strength we have is knowing we are not alone in our support of Public Education. And we ARE NOT ALONE, 94% of Alberta students are in public schools. Let’s not let them down.