Nicolaides has also been tasked with working on several other initiatives:
- Reviewing the role of parent school councils and working with educators to explore ways parents can appropriately provide more input into school policies and learning options.
- Ensuring Alberta’s educational funding model continues to promote parental choice in education. This includes ensuring that Alberta’s public, separate, francophone, charter, independent (private) schools and early childhood services operators and home education systems are all appropriately funded to ensure the highest educational outcomes for students.
- Working to significantly increase the number of schools in the communities of greatest need.
- Continuing to bring more collegiate schools online across the province to create pathways for students to post-secondary or their chosen fields in the workforce.
- In collaboration with the Minister of Advanced Education, reviewing the Skills for Jobs Task Force Report and advancing key recommendations from the report pertaining to your ministry, including the design and implementation of an apprenticeship system (similar to the Germanic model) for high school-age students interested in pursuing vocational education and training in the skilled trades.
- Making recommendations on the best way to create an expedited teaching certificate to fast-track instructors of skilled trades and other professions into teaching positions in junior high and high schools.
- Exploring incentives to support the recruitment and retention of teachers, educational assistants and support staff in underserved areas of the province.
- Continuing to implement additional educational assistants in Alberta classrooms to address learning loss and the increasing complexity of learning needs.
- Evaluating and, if needed, expanding supports for qualified professionals, such as speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists.
- Reviewing and strengthening Program Unit Funding (PUF) to ensure programming and funding are addressing the educational needs of children with severe disabilities or delay.
- Working collaboratively with parents, teachers and stakeholders to continue to implement K-12 curriculum, and to implement additional basic life and home maintenance skills as well as financial literacy training into the high school curriculum where appropriate.
- Assisting each ministry to execute on their mandate to design a ministry-specific job-attraction strategy that raises awareness for young Albertans, especially those in grades 9 to 12, and adults changing careers of the skilled trades and professions available in each economic sector, including pathways for education, apprenticeship and training.
Nicholaides said, “Alberta’s United Conservative government is committed to improving education in our province. By significantly building more schools, improving PUF and creating more dual credit opportunities, we will ensure Alberta’s education system remains world-class.”
Rakhi Pancholi, Alberta NDP Critic for Education, made the following statement in response to the Education mandate letter:
“Danielle Smith’s mandate letter is a plan to continue degrading Alberta’s once-world-class public education system. Only weeks after the election, Smith is dropping her promise to Albertans to hire 650 teachers and 1375 educational assistants, and replacing it with some vague language around ‘exploring incentives.’
“We cannot continue with an education funding model that punishes growing school boards in Calgary and Edmonton and leaves many thousands of Alberta students unfunded. Nothing in this mandate letter addresses this ongoing and challenging problem, which will only escalate as we continue to welcome new families to Alberta.
“She also has no instructions to her minister to build schools in specific communities which the UCP has starved of new schools and staff for the past four years. These families will continue to send their kids into aged and overcrowded classrooms. Edmonton Public Schools will be completely out of high school space by 2027, and schools take time to build. Families need to see construction dollars on the table now to address this.
“Reviewing PUF is the very least the UCP could do. It was a callous decision in the first place to cut it and too many of our youngest learners are still paying the price for that.
“I am also disappointed that Smith refused to restore funding for the Alberta School Councils Association, the democratically elected voice of school parents. Cutting ASCA’s funding was a vindictive attempt to silence parents who oppose the UCP curriculum, and Smith clearly has no interest in hearing from them now.”
Smith’s mandate letter to Nicholaides can be read in full on the Government of Alberta website.
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