Two out of three Albertans agree: We should defund private schools and invest in public education

Public funds should only go to public schools

A new poll shows widespread public support for phasing out public funding of private schools and reallocating those funds to the public education system.

"Two-thirds of Albertans express some level of approval for the proposal to phase out public funding of private schools and reinvest the money in the public education system," said Tony Coulson of Environics.  
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"Support for the phasing out of public funding of private schools is consistent across the province and almost all population subgroups. The only group with a majority expressing opposition is the small proportion who feel the government is investing too much in public education," said Coulson. 

IF YOU SUPPORT PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SIGN OUR PETITION. WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THIS GOVERNMENT TO DEFUND PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND INVEST IN A STRONGER PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM.

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The poll was done by Environics and was part of regular tracking surveys conducted for the Alberta Teachers' Association. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points 19 times out 20. The poll report can be downloaded here.

This comes on the heels of renewed calls from a diverse group of labour and non-profit groups who want to see elite private schools defunded and their public subsidies redirected to lowering school fees, school nutrition or more inclusive education. This group includes: 
  • CUPE Alberta
  • Alberta Teachers' Association
  • Support Our Students
  • Calgary & District Labour Council
  • Edmonton & District Labour Council
  • Public Interest Alberta
  • Public School Boards Association of Alberta
  • Unifor 1990 and 52A
  • Progress Alberta
  • CUPE 40, 520, 474 and 3550
  • CBE Staff Association
The ATA, various CUPE locals, CBE Staff Association and Unifor represent around 50,000 teachers, support staff, admin staff, maintenance people and janitors in Alberta's K-12 education system. 

Elite Private Schools Still Soaking Up Rich Subsidies

There are 15 elite private schools in the Calgary area that charge more than $10,000 a year in tuition yet somehow get more than $30 million in taxpayer subsidies every year. They are the Elite 15. 

These subsidies are ridiculous. If a parent is paying $10,000, or even $20,000 a year, for their child to attend an elite private school they will most likely continue to keep their kid in a private school regardless of a subsidy. Let's redirect that money to a stronger public education system and a stronger Alberta. After all, $30 million a year would go a long way to reducing school fees even more or making sure that no child goes to school on an empty stomach. 

The people who work in our public education system also have a unique and first hand view of what underfunding our public school system does to student. 

"For years, our members have been telling me stories about our underfunded public schools," said Marle Roberts, president of CUPE Alberta, a group that represents over 10,000 workers in the K-12 system in Alberta. 

"There is always pressure on the public-school system, and there always will be. But we can do better. We can reduce those pressures by using public money where it is meant to be spent – on public schools. Subsidizing the wealthy and privileged does little to improve education or society. It simply puts money into the pockets of the rich."

A strong, free and accessible public education system is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy and a healthy economy. We need to make sure that this NDP government and its conservative opponents get the message. Albertans agree, it's time to end ridiculous taxpayer subsidies to elite private schools and to invest in a stronger public education system. Now it's time to make it happen. 

IF YOU SUPPORT PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SIGN OUR PETITION. WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THIS GOVERNMENT TO DEFUND PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND INVEST IN A STRONGER PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM.