Students stage protest in Calgary to demand smaller class sizes, better learning environments
CALGARY -- A Grade six student organized a rally Friday with some family and friends marching past various public schools while calling for more investment in education.
The crowd of about two dozen rallied outside Altadore School, William Reid School and Elboya School, eventually ending up at the office for the MLA for Calgary-Elbow.
"Just to raise awareness and to try to get the government to get more funding to schools," said Nora Vukadinovic, the organizer behind March 4 Education.
She described a cramped environment inside classrooms before schools were closed in March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"A class of 36 kids is really hard to learn in and it's really hard for the teacher to teach."
The 11-year-old’s mother said class sizes have ballooned as enrolment at the Calgary Board of Education has increased, but she is also worried that some scenarios of relaunching K-12 will not work out.
"Even if we went into Scenario 2 in September, where there are maximum sizes of 15, you can’t even divide that class into two and have them attend school every second day. You would have to divide that class into three I guess," said Susan Vukadinovic.
According to the government’s website, there are three scenarios for the start of school in September.
One, classes resume almost as they did prior to the outbreak.
Two, classes are split into smaller groups and for fewer days of in-class instructions among other health rules.
And three, schools remain closed and teacher-directed at-home learning continues as it did during the lockdown.
As for concerns about education funding raised by the protesters — the education minister’s office e-mailed a statement to CTV News which reads:
As part of Budget 2020, we rolled out a new K-12 funding model which drives more funds directly to the classroom, resulting in every single school division in Alberta seeing an increase in operational funding for the 2020-21 school year. In Calgary, the Calgary Board of Education is receiving a more than $20 million increase and the Calgary Catholic School Division is receiving an almost $8 million increase. If Calgary-area school divisions are making adjustments to their programming and class sizes, they are doing this despite receiving funding increases from the Government of Alberta.
(The re-entry) plan was developed based on the advice of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health in consultation with the entire education system, including individual school authorities, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the College of Alberta School Superintendents and the Alberta School Boards Association. Our number one priority is to ensure a safe and successful return to school for both our staff and students, and we will continue working with the education system and the chief medical officer of health to ensure that happens.
Further information on the new K-12 funding model that was announced in February and school authority funding profiles are available online.
The group did march to office of Doug Schweitzer, Alberta's minister for justice and solicitor general, but no meeting took place Friday afternoon.
His office tells CTV News he would be open to a Zoom meeting at a another time.
The province will decide which scenario to resume classes with on Aug. 1.