Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prentice slams Johnson's Task Force

Jim Prentice is running for the Progressive Conservative leadership, but he sounded more like the opposition when he slammed Jeff Johnson's Task Force this morning.

Karen Kleiss with the Edmonton Journal writes:
In a bare-knuckled speech early Thursday morning, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jim Prentice said the shortage of schools in Alberta is “nearing crisis proportions” and pledged to build up to 50 more — in addition to the existing promise to build 50 and modernize 70 more. 
He pummeled the “so-called Task Force for Teaching Excellence,” saying he has spoken with hundreds of parents in the past month and he has “yet to meet even one who is preoccupied with changing how teachers are evaluated or disciplined.” 
He promised to work “in a respectful way” with teachers and their union, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and said he will work with parents and educators to patiently determine what changes need to be made to Alberta’s curriculum.
In September 2013, I wrote a post that outlined 3 potential problems with Johnson's Task Force. Here is the first problem:
If I was Jeff Johnson and the Alberta Government, I may want to distract the public from funding cuts in public education by creating a task force that focuses on teacher quality. For this school year, the Alberta Government cut school board budgets by $14.5 million even though 11,000 new students entered Alberta's schools. This will lead to all sorts of problems for teachers' working conditions including larger class sizes.
Prentice's comments from this morning are pretty similar in theme:
“As an Albertan, as a grandparent, as a candidate for Premier — I am disappointed,” Prentice said. “I am disappointed that children are in our province are not receiving the very best education in Canada. 
“I am especially disappointed that so many of them spent the past school year in makeshift classrooms. This can’t be allowed to continue. And if I become leader, it won’t.”

It sure looks to me like Prentice sees Jeff Johnson's Task Force for what it truly is -- a giant distraction from predictable and sustainable funding.

To be clear, if the 2012 Progressive Conservatives couldn't make good on building 50 new schools before 2016, I have zero confidence that Prentice's 2016 Conservatives can build 100.

It's not that I think Prentice is lying -- I believe that he wants to build more schools, but I don't think the PC's will let him.

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