• Dawn Riley

Teaching Profession CommissionerPossible If Bill 15 Passes

On March 31 Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the introduction of Bill 15, the Education (Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline) Amendment Act. If passed the Act will create the Alberta Teaching Profession Commission, appointing an arm’s-length commissioner to oversee teacher and teacher leader conduct and competency complaints for the profession. Teachers and teacher leaders will be encompassed under the process whether they are members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) or not.

In the press release, Minister LaGrange stated, “Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring student safety is at the centre of our disciplinary processes. I want parents and the public to have peace of mind and know that we are improving accountability in the process, enhancing the reputation of the teaching profession and increasing public assurance when it comes to oversight of discipline matters.”

At present, the ATA is responsible for overseeing complaints made against its active members and the registrar at Alberta Education is responsible for non-ATA teachers and teacher leaders.

Alberta is the only province that has a dual system for dealing with complaints and concerns regarding teachers and teacher leaders. If passed, the Reforming Teacher Profession Discipline Act will create an Office of the Commissioner which will have the authority to oversee the complaints received against any Alberta certified teacher. The registrar will become responsible for receiving all complaints, and the commissioner will have the authority to investigate complaints and take the required course of action. The teacher and teacher leader registry, which will be starting in September 2022 will include consent resolution agreements and all decisions where there is a finding of unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence.

Minister LaGrange says the proposed approach will remove any perception of conflict of interest where a union could both advocate for and oversee disciplinary matters for its members. This approach will not affect the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s (ATA) or the College of Alberta School Superintendents’ roles in professional development, or the ATA’s role as it pertains to collective bargaining for its members.

The Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) does not agree with the Minister’s decision, however. The organization, which represents forty-eight thousand teachers and leaders in Alberta has serious concerns regarding what they say are fundamental flaws.

ATA president Jason Schilling states Bill 15 has three fundamental flaws. The ATA argues that The bill is a massive power grab for the minister and the government, the minister has full authority and all final say in outcomes. It removes self-governance for teachers, and no other profession in Alberta has a commissioner to govern them. Finally, Schilling points out that the model this Legislation is based on is from a province that has a history of poor relations with its teachers.

These are not the only features of the bill that the ATA has issues with, there are concerns from the organization regarding the registry being put in place in September, and Schilling wants the public to know that he believes it is the government’s way to punish the teaching profession for not accepting the curriculum plan and distract the public from the government’s infighting.

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