Eva Ferguson • Calgary Herald
Publishing date: Sep 01, 2016 • Last Updated 3 years ago • 2 minute read
Comments added by Home Education Funding Alberta
Alberta’s public school system has seen spending increase by more than 70 per cent in the last decade, even though enrolment has grown by only 11 per cent over the same period, says a study released by the Fraser Institute.
But teachers are adamant much of that is due to infrastructure spending and population growth unlike any other province. In fact, according to the same report,
Alberta was the only province to see a positive growth in enrolment from 2004 to 2014.
Every other province saw a decline, reflecting a national average that saw a 4.2 per cent decrease in enrolment.
Still, the study’s author is pointing towards the union, asking whether the huge spike in Alberta spending is mainly due to the rising costs of teacher compensation.
In a new report entitled Education Spending and Student Enrolment in Canada, spending in Alberta government schools was just over $4.8 billion in 2004-05, according to data from Statistics Canada. But by 2013-14, spending reached as high as $8.1 billion, translating to a 70.3 per cent increase, the highest in Canada, and significantly higher than the 41 per cent national average.
“There’s a common misperception, perpetuated by teachers’ unions and activists, that spending on public schools in Alberta has been declining, but that simply is not true,”
said Deani Van Pelt, director of the Barbara Mitchell Centre for Improvement in Education at the Fraser Institute, a public policy think tank.
“Everyone who is worried about spending needs to be asking more questions.”
Van Pelt admits that while teachers and many parents say their kids are experiencing a decrease in resources in the classroom, a different report from last year shows compensation was significantly increased over a similar time frame.
According to that report, entitled Understanding Increases in Education Spending in Public Schools in Canada, spending for compensation increased by 75 per cent from 2003 to 2013, including a 142 per cent increase in pension funding.
I need to repeat this because it is so important:
Over a span of 10 years, Public School teachers' wages have increased by 75%!!!
And over this same span of 10 years, Public School teachers' pensions have increased by 142%!!!
This is a big reason why our economy is in the pits. Public School compensation alone has costed us billions of dollars. Let's take the smart way out of this pit by promoting Home Education through an increase of funding, which will save our province millions of dollars.
But Mark Ramsankar, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, questions the data, stressing that every community in Alberta feels strapped for education resources, from growing, complex classrooms to crumbling, crowded buildings. He added that teachers took a one per cent increase over four years in their last four-year contract.
“To release numbers like this, without the context of growth and capital, and without discussing the complexities of our classrooms is nothing but a disservice to Albertans.
“It is clear that their objectives here are only to undermine public sector services.”
Ramsankar argued it’s also important to note Alberta’s overall population growth and rise in inflation during that time frame.
From 2003 to 2013, inflation rose by 23 per cent, and since 2006, Alberta’s population has exploded from 3.2 million people to more than 4.2 million this spring.
Even now, in spite of Alberta’s struggling economy, Statistics Canada has shown Alberta continues to lead other provinces in population growth.
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