Why the Task Force was Created

Intent was to support teachers

In September 11, 2013, Jeff Johnson, minister of education, announced that he was forming a Task Force for Teaching Excellence to “make recommendations on how we can better support Alberta’s teachers to ensure that every student had the best chance at success.” The terms of reference stated that the task force would be guided by the “vision, values, principles and policy shifts identified in Inspiring Education” and that the process would be consultative, giving all Albertans the chance to help build the future of our children’s classroom and opportunities for learning.

Minister Johnson selected the 16 panel members, including four Progressive Conservative MLAs. The Alberta Teachers’ Association was not invited to the table and the only two active Association members on the committee were school-based administrators who were selected unilaterally by the minister. ATA President Mark Ramsankar expressed his concerns to the Minister and to teachers at the time, saying, “A key piece of developing the supports teachers need has to include listening to teachers. We look forward to hearing how the voice of teachers and their professional association will be included in this process.”

The members of the minister’s task force include:

  • Dr. Glenn Feltham, president and CEO of NAIT (Chair)

  • Sandra Jansen, MLA for Calgary-NorthWest (Vice Chair)

  • MLAs Naresh Bhardwaj, David Dorward and Everett McDonald

  • David Fraser, Edmonton Public Schools

  • Dr. Sharon Friesen, University of Calgary

  • Dr. Irene Lewis, SAIT

  • Dr. Craig Loewen, University of Lethbridge

  • Brent McDonough, University of Alberta

  • Mackenzie Martin, University of Alberta student

  • Michele Mulder, Alberta School Councils’ Association

  • Andy Neigel, CAREERS: The Next Generation

  • Shelley Ralston, Xerox Canada

  • Laurie Thompson, principal, Northern Lights School Division

  • Ron Young, principal, Northern Lights School Division

Johnson’s task force contracted Leger – the Research Intelligence Group to conduct a public consultation process. Coincidentally, the only publicly available information about the task force was found on a Leger hosted website. The consultative process included an online survey, regional consultations and online bulletin boards. According to the Task Force for Teaching Excellence Report to the Minister (May 2014), three thousand Albertans contributed to the process, including “a significant number of teachers and educational leaders.” The survey was filled out by 2,197 people, 492 of whom self-identified as teachers. The task force also invited written submissions and held focused dialogues and one-on-one meetings.

According to the terms of reference, the report would be completed on January 31, 2014. However, it was not released on that date, nor was it released at the Inspiring Education invitational symposium held at the BMO Center in Calgary on February 19, 2014, with 1,100 in attendance. The report was eventually released at the Task Force for Teaching Excellence invitational symposium held at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on May 5, 2014.

The report is divided into two sections including a report to the minister of education and a What we Heard section that summarizes the consultations. The report includes 25 recommendations grouped into four theme areas: Practice Standards, Enabling Teaching Excellence, the Role of Leaders in Enabling Teaching Excellence and Assuring Teaching Excellence.

This article was taken in it's entirety from the Alberta Teachers' Association Website On May 20, 2014 at 2:00pm: http://www.teachers.ab.ca/Publications/ATA%20News/Volume-48-2013-14/Special%20Issue%201/Pages/Why-the-task-force-was-created.aspx

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