As Alberta parents brace for increased school fees, Premier Jason Kenney keeps saying his government did not cut education funding. Yet the following school boards have very publicly announced they will be receiving less money for the 2019-20 school year:
- Calgary Board of Education: $32 million less
- Calgary Catholic: $17 million less
- Edmonton Public Schools: $34.4 million less
- Edmonton Catholic: $12.5 million less
- Red Deer Public School Board: $3.5 million less
- Red Deer Catholic School Division: $2.5 million less
- Rocky View Schools (Airdrie): $10 million less
- Prairie Rose School Division (Medicine Hat): $2.4 million less
- Christ the Redeemer (Okotoks-Strathmore-Brooks): $1 million less
- Chinook’s Edge Public (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake): $2.8 million less
- Wolf Creek Public (Lacombe-Ponoka): $1.8 million less
- Grande Prairie Public: $3.3 million less
At this point, it almost looks as though the Premier is lying through his Cheshire grin. Except, the Premier and his Education Minister, Adriana LaGrange, consistently claimed they would “maintain or increase education funding”; they never once claimed it would be for “public” education.
Is it possible for both publicly funded schools and the government to be telling the truth?
Unfortunately – yes.
Kenney most recently pointed to the overall budget for education and noted it had been increased by approximately $100 million dollars. Certainly that’s an obvious increase in funding; however, as noted above, money did not go to public schools – but neither Jason Kenney nor his Education Minister ever suggested it would. Even Finance Minister Travis Toews said funding would remain when CBE didn’t have faith in the pre-game show.
They accused the Official Opposition of “fear and smear” and repeated that the UCP government would “maintain or increase education funding”.
What they didn’t say is that they would maintain or increase education funding for every child in Alberta.
So if the public schools aren’t receiving “maintained or increased education funding” and the separate schools (who also had their funding cut, but nowhere near as much as the public schools) aren’t receiving “maintained or increased education funding”, then who is?
Perhaps the other budget cuts offer some insight. As we saw with Alberta’s post-secondary, the publicly-funded institutions were hit with cuts but the private or religious post-secondary institutions were not. Like their K-12 counterparts, private and religious post-secondary institutions already receive less public funding than the public institutions.
Alberta taxpayers fund educational choice because we’re a rich province, even when, as Jason Kenney says, “we’re broke“.
Maintained or increased funding cannot be seen in public or separate schools but if overall funding for Alberta’s K-12 education did increase – where on earth did it go?
Albertans gave this government the mandate to do whatever they wanted; “Jobs, economy and pipelines” are what they campaigned on. “GSA’ reform, education cuts and an uncertain future” is what they’ve delivered so far.
This post is an opinion.
Deirdre is a reporter, pundit, podcaster, and political sociologist living in rural Southern Alberta.
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