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Alberta teachers call for education bump as per-student spending drops again

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A new ad campaign from the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) takes aim at the province for what it calls "chronic underfunding" underscored by last week's budget.

The ATA is launching television, radio, billboard, print and online advertisements this week.

Three spots will focus on the 4.4 per cent funding bump education received in the UCP's latest financial outline.

"We want every Albertan to know clearly and understand that despite having the richest economy in the country, we have the poorest public education system," ATA president Jason Schilling said.

"There's no excusing this."

It's not the first time teachers have taken aim at the UCP, but it may be the most dire situation yet, according to Schilling.

He says student enrolment growth has outpaced teacher population increases by more than two to one.

A 2023 Fraser Institute report shows Alberta saw the fastest growing enrolment rate in Canada last year, but its inflation-adjusted per-student spending is rapidly declining and the worst in the nation.

"Our students deserve better in this province, and the government needs to cut the excuses on why they're not funding education properly," Schilling said.

"If we don't address the learning conditions and the teaching conditions in our schools, teachers are going to leave and that's going to exacerbate the problem."

The spending was defended by the province's finance minister on Tuesday.

"The two big (budget) line items were in health and education," Nate Horner told CTV News.

"It's a priority of Albertans, it's a priority of ours and it's a great budget in that sense."

As Alberta continues to grow, the ATA sees it differently.

"We needed to see in this budget an increase of 13 per cent just to come to the Canadian average in terms of funding per student," Schilling said.

"Not only are they underfunding it," Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said, "they are disproportionately funding private schools. So our public system is actually getting even less."

The ad campaign, which is teacher-funded, pushes Albertans to stoptheexcuses.ca to learn more.

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