Support Our Students Annual School Survey

The Cause

How is our school library staffed?
Do we have a specialist music teacher available at our school?
Are there resources available for special education students?

Support Our Students Alberta is a registered non-profit advocating for public education in Alberta. Our mission is to advocate for a public education system that is fair and equitable to all Alberta children regardless of ability, ethnicity, gender identity, geography or economic circumstance. A public system where funding keeps pace with growth and every child is supported in a healthy and secure learning environment.
Our purpose is to gather information from every Alberta school and publish a report highlighting the effects of education policy, funding and to keep track of the infrastructure schools have to provide a rich, balanced learning opportunity for Alberta students.
Our goal is to provide an alternate measure to the limited evaluations provided by standardized tests and school rankings. Our survey hopes to audit the resources students have access to and use that information to guide advocacy.

Our report on the findings from our first 2016 survey can be found here:
https://www.supportourstudents.ca/2016-annual-report-on-alberta-schools/

Three main themes emerged from our findings, specifically around health, specialization and fundraising. Some examples of our findings are:

Health:
58% of respondents reported a nurse as “not available” for their school
36% of urban respondents reported a nurse as “not available” for their school
71% of rural respondents reported a nurse as “not available” for their school
Specialization:
70% of respondents reported NO Teacher Librarian in their schools
45% of respondents reported NO Physical Education Teachers in their schools
95% of respondents reported NO Health Teachers in their schools
52% of respondents reported NO Special Education Teachers in their schools
Fundraising:
13% of urban respondents indicated raising more than $50,000
4% of rural respondents indicated raising more than $50,000

Respondents came from all regions of the province. It was both voluntary and confidential. We hope school administrators will recognize the value of using comprehensive resource measurements and will consider participating next year. It is our goal to conduct the survey and increase participation every year.

Who Will it Benefit?

We strongly believe public education is for all children to access equitably and free from ALL barriers, financial or otherwise. We believe public education is our strongest tool to combat poverty, food insecurity and to promote tolerance and diversity. We hope our work will better direct public educational policy to promote the types of resources children need to access and benefit from a strong public education service. To they end we have a 10 point strategy to achieving an equitable education system. Of course, our primary goal is to benefit children, but we know a well education population benefits society at large, and helps us build and strengthen communities.

Our ten point strategy is as follows:

1. Make high quality early childhood education universal and accessible, leveling the playing field and closing the achievement gap for underprivileged children.
2. Build schools as community engagement centres, comprehensive facilities where children and citizens can participate physically, intellectually and civically.
3. Eliminate ALL barriers including all school-related fees (including, but not limited to, instructional materials, bussing, lunch supervision) and application procedures.
4. All schools should have a full, inclusive, and balanced curriculum including but not limited to arts, music, science, history, language arts, additional languages, mathematics, and physical education.
5. Reduce class sizes to bring them in line with the recommendations in the Alberta Learning Commission report of 2003.
6. Integrate charter schools into public system, eliminating all fees and ability to deny access.
7. Provide integrated services for students including medical and social services that help children keep up with advantaged peers. One in six Alberta children live in poverty.
8. Reduce emphasis on high stakes standardized testing. Provide alternative and more comprehensive criteria for measuring student success. *This directly relates to our survey*
9. Return to specialization for teachers at all grade levels.
10. Recognize that public education is a public responsibility not a consumer good. Its quality and accessibility should be equitable across the province.