A Series of Unfortunate Statements: Quotable Quotes from Alberta’s Education Minister.
As you may have noticed in my last couple of blogs, there have been a few prevailing themes in terms of what specifically I am looking to address concerning Alberta Education. The general themes that I have given attention to has been how the budget has affected the function of the school system. You could imagine then It was to my great pleasure, and subsequent shock and anger to discover that Jeff Johnson had released an interview last night concerning his opinions about the growing concern over class room sizes.
In his press release on October the 29/2013, he made a few……poorly thought out statements. While at first I registered something akin to blinding anger, and a need to put something much stronger in my coffee, I decided instead to analyze what he said to figure out what his stances on solving some of the problems are.
For example, he espoused that it is the duty of the school to provide adequate learning environments, and that if a particular class is overpopulated then it is the fault and poor planning of the school to which they belong. Lets break down that statement a little and see where it gets us. Lets say you are hosting an event at your venue, ( in our case the event has somewhat mandatory attendance) and you quickly realize that your venue is ill suited to handling the number of participants attending. Do you A) Move or upgrade the standing venue to deal with the overflow, or B) blame the event coordinators on failing to be professional enough to deal with the problem.
Secondly, he insisted that a two percent operational grant to the ATA would be enough to cover the costs, even amidst the 14.5 million dollar cuts that were added to the 2013 budget.
Though perhaps my favourite statement out of this particular news release came when he was asked concerning growing class room sizes. His reply was that the data on class room sizes can be “ Deceiving” and that if a teacher is faced with multiple students in their classroom that it shouldn’t matter. Rather after attending a teaching conference in Istanbul….( don’t even ask me why it is relevant) that it boils down the quality of the teacher that is in control of the classroom.
Lets boil down his arguments. Argument 1) Blame the venue that was given to the teachers by the government. Argument 2) Blame the teachers for classroom sizes. Argument 3) Deny an increasing amount of raw data and call it fairytales and lies.
In terms of his first argument lets consider for a second why it is, there is a reported growing trend for school districts all across Alberta that are demanding portable classrooms to keep up with growing demands. It seems entirely rational that multiple school districts would be in on this “expanding class myth”. Though in the face of growing data, fall back to argument 3.
Regarding the second argument, this makes almost as little sense as the first. There is a staggering amount of data regarding the quality of teaching being linked to face to face time, especially in the primary grades. Perhaps then he should have asked a professor at one of the faculties of education about class room sizes and teaching qualities…..oh wait, his co-worker is busy cutting the sizes of those classrooms to. Perhaps this point above all else hit a bit of a sore spot. Because of an all-inclusive paid for business trip to Turkey, he feels qualified to make an aggrandizing statement that if the classroom is increasing, then it is the teachers fault for not providing adequate education. I would personally vote that we lock him in a room of fifty children by himself and not feed him until he is able to teach them basic multiplication. I think that it would give him perspective into the things he is suggesting. Though just incase somebody should happen along with an informed opinion. Fall back to argument 3.
Finally, argument 3. Again it seems a little short sited to me that in the face of growing data, by both government and media sources, that he would flat out deny that this is becoming a problem. Last time I checked, closing ones eyes does not in anyway inhibit the train from rolling down the tracks. Regardless of if the individual standing on the tracks thinks so or not.
I admit that out of my last blog postings, this one is a little more personal and vitriolic. Though from the comments made by the minister I do not in any way, shape or form believe he understands the dynamics of teaching 40+ students. For him to deny the facts that are not only becoming more public, but are well documented is not only short sighted, but it is far more indicative of the growing tensions in the relationships between the ATA members and the PC government.