February 13, 2019 5:51 pm
Updated: February 13, 2019 6:36 pm

Alberta teachers create 400K sardine can postcards to stress issue of class size

Nov. 19, 2017: There are growing concerns about how many students teachers are required to oversee. As Julia Wong reports, a new campaign is underway to get the education minister's attention.

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The Alberta Teachers’ Association is using an unconventional campaign to draw attention to crowded classrooms ahead of the provincial election.

Teachers will be distributing 400,000 postcards — that look like sardine cans with kids in them — across the province to highlight the issue of class size.

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“The punchline, delivered in accompanying radio and online advertising, says our kids deserve quality classrooms, not sardine cans,” ATA associate coordinator of communications, Jonathan Teghtmeyer, said in a Feb. 4 editorial.

The campaign officially launched Feb. 8 and will run through the election campaign.

READ MORE: Election promises already? Alberta party leaders in ‘wooing stage’ ahead of writ drop

“For more than 15 years we have been beating the drum on class size and complexity,” Teghtmeyer wrote.

“And while efforts have been made to fix the problem, they have largely failed and we now have larger classes than we did in 2001.

“The current government is proud that it has provided funding for student population growth, but more still needs to be done,” he wrote. “Now we need a lasting resolution. And this election presents a real opportunity for us to get this years-old issue resolved.”

READ MORE: $2.7B spent in failed bid to cut Alberta classroom sizes: auditor

The government has not dropped the writ yet but the election has to be held sometime between March and May.

Each teacher will be given 10 cards each to hand out. The ATA is also asking teachers to reach out to candidates to ask them about their plans to support public education.

“Find a way to make a difference for education over the next eight weeks,” Teghtmeyer said.

Under the province’s new rules, the ATA registered with Elections Alberta as a third-party advertiser, allowing it to spend $150,000 ahead of the election period and another $150,000 during the campaign period. The ATA said it plans to spend $270,000 on the sardine can campaign.

WATCH BELOW (Nov. 20, 2017): Education Minister David Eggen says class sizes are smaller under the current NDP government than they would be under a Jason Kenney government.

READ MORE: $393M earmarked for 20 new, upgraded schools in 2018 Alberta Budget

The association said the campaign will “remain non-partisan and issues-focused.”

“We will advocate for small class sizes, and we are hoping all of the parties will become associated with that issue,” Teghtmeyer said.

“We want the parties to outline clear plans for reducing class sizes and allocating the required funds to do so.”

READ MORE: Alberta Teachers’ Association says additional 3K educators needed to reduce class sizes

The campaign directs voters, teachers, parents and candidates to the website vote4kids.ca for more information on education issues in the election and read the platforms and policies of the parties and candidates.

“While pipelines, jobs and the economy are sure to dominate the campaign, we want to make sure that education is not forgotten as a priority issue,” he wrote.

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