Teachers’ association aims to raise awareness of issues

Jessi Cardinal
Joe McWilliams
For The Express

Who knew there were such things as ‘political engagement officers’ in union locals? If there weren’t before, there are now, and the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) has a couple of them right here in the High Prairie School Division.

“The ATA wants to make sure that the (provincial election) candidates know that education is a priority for the province,” says Jessi Cardinal. “And to make sure teachers are politically engaged and know where the candidates stand on the issues that are important to them.”

It’s new stuff for the ATA, at least at the local level.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done any political engagement,” says Cardinal, who is a vice-principal in charge of running the Lakeside Outreach School in Slave Lake.

Part of the job, Cardinal says, is raising awareness among teachers about certain issues; then encouraging the teachers to raise those issues with the political candidates.

Such as?

Class sizes is one. The bigger the class, the tougher it is for the teacher to do his or her job, Cardinal says. Proper funding for special needs students is another pressing issue.

“They need more supports,” she says.

Something called ‘class composition’ is another issue of concern to the ATA.

“We still don’t have enough teachers,” says Cardinal. “You’re often seeing classes made up of a number of different courses taught by the same teachers.”

The ATA campaign will roll out over the next few weeks. Look for some advertising, Cardinal says, and definitely a social media aspect to it.

“We’re well prepared,” she says. “and supported by our president and executive.”


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