On May 5, the Alberta NDP pledged to hire 4,000 teachers and 3,000 support workers to bolster public education if the party forms government on May 29. In total, Notley pledged $700 million in funding for public education over the next four years.
However, they refused to take questions from Rebel News on if an NDP government would fund alternative schooling in the name of ‘equity, diversity, and inclusion.’
In March 2022, the Alberta government lifted the cap on charter schools under the Choice in Education Act to permit 'unique programming' in parent-run schools.
Then Premier Jason Kenney argued many charter school students come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have special needs that require additional support. He maintained funding is provided per capita for students in private, charter and public schools.
"Despite activists' claims, charters are not just serving an ‘elite’ population of students. I know this because I teach at one of them," tweeted Kelden Formosa, a teacher at the Alberta Classical Academy.
According to school choice advocate Caylan Ford, "first-generation immigrant families, mostly from northeast Calgary, comprise a substantial portion of our charter school population."
"Many came to us because the Calgary Board of Education doesn't operate a single high-performing school in the city's northeast quadrant," she said.
Formosa added his employer is popular with parents because “we provide a unique educational approach that the CBE does not."
According to the Alberta NDP, 36,000 more students have enrolled in public schools since 2019. They claim the UCP has failed to hire a single additional teacher.
"They've underfunded education and haven't built schools where they're most needed," reads the party's website.
"An Alberta NDP government will invest in supporting students and education. We will fund every student and classroom, setting targets for classroom sizes. We will do this by hiring 4,000 more teachers and 3,000 educational support staff," it continues.
"An Alberta NDP government will build and modernize schools where our classrooms are the most overcrowded."
In Budget 2022, the UCP allocated $47 million capital for charter school infrastructure expansion.
Premier Danielle Smith and the UCP released funding numbers last month demonstrating an increase in charter school funding, three times that of public schools (18.6% compared to 6.83%). The announcement came on the heels of a newly declared $118 million charter school hub to house 2,000 students and drive innovation in Alberta's school system.
On May 22, Rebel again tried to ask Notley if an NDP government would commit funding to alternative schooling. Again, she provided no answer.
A re-elected UCP government plans to invest $2.3 billion in education over the next three years, including support for 58 school projects. This fiscal year, they committed $42 million to create spaces for 2,000 new students in Calgary and Edmonton over the next three years.