See it happen in Alberta. Adriana LaGrange, Jason Kenney's Education Minister, has made it her mission to destabilize education. Pandemic management in schools has been dismal, Education Assistants were laid off with the excuse of recovering costs for the pandemic (and then the money was never forwarded there), and the manner in which she approached teachers got so bad they voted 99% in favor of non-confidence in the minister. The most significant complaint has been a draft curriculum that has made Albertans from all walks of life (teacher, parent, entrepreneur, and child) all cringe and cry foul. Education advocates, not the least of which being the Alberta Teachers' Association, have been fighting for students since day 1, and it appeared as though LaGrange simply wouldn't listen.
So LaGrange has to fight back. What better way than to vilify teachers themselves?
On Thursday, December 9, 2021, LaGrange accused the Alberta Teachers' Association of protecting a child-abusing teacher. She cited as evidence a lawsuit that was filed against the Calgary Board of Education for not exercising due diligence in protecting CBE students from that teacher.
Please note, the lawsuit is against the CBE, not the ATA. Why not the ATA? Because the ATA did what they were supposed to do.
The ATA is not the police. It is not the employer (school boards are). It is not the individual responsible for certification (the Education Minister is). It's responsibility is to manage it's own membership, and part of that is ensuring every teacher is fit for the classroom. That is precisely what it did.
When the teacher in question, Michael Gregory, was first found guilty of unprofessional conduct, the ATA did exactly as it was supposed to do. It suspended membership in the ATA, basically saying "you aren't part of us." Additionally, a teacher must be a member of the ATA in order to be allowed to teach in a public or separate school division. Suspending Gregory's membership took him out of the classroom. And it did this all before there were any allegations of sexual misconduct.
Then the ATA sent the report to the Calgary Board of Education, the Education Minister, and included in the report was the fact the RCMP were aware of complaints against Gregory.
So when LaGrange said "I was also appalled that the Alberta Teachers’ Association did not believe they had an obligation to report its disciplinary findings to police," adding that the ATA protected the teacher, she lied. In fact, the ATA did its best, with the powers it has, to get the teacher out of the classroom. And it was successful. Gregory never taught again.
But the lies don't stop there. LaGrange also claims there is a conflict of interest, echoed by former Education Minister Jeff Johnson, who commissioned the wildly off-key Taskforce on Teaching Excellence, leading to teachers' vote of non-confidence in him, and eventually to his shuffle out of that role. That taskforce's report was rife with errors, much like LaGrange's curriculum is, so it is of no surprise that both of them err in the assertion of conflict of interest.
The ATA does not, will not, and cannot represent a teacher under investigation. The ATA doesn't want to. It has a duty to protect the integrity of the profession, which means protecting students. If a teacher has done wrong, the ATA must represent the other 46,000 teachers who are doing right every day, over and over again. This fact is spelled out extremely clearly on the discipline process documents on the ATA website. Apparently, even though LaGrange is a fan of Wikipedia, she isn't a fan of Google.
What's crazy is that the part of the discipline process that the Minister is responsible for, policing conduct of superintendents and charter and private school teachers, is devoid of public accountability. She could decide to let a charter or private school teacher or a superintendent off the hook, and nobody would ever find out, because she doesn't have to report anything publicly. If she wants to improve discipline processes, she shouldn't be looking at the ATA who has been doing their job for decades. Instead, she should look in her own house. And the ATA has been asking for this kind of improvement to the discipline process for years.
So why would LaGrange do all this? Because she's frustrated she can't simply ram through her deeply flawed and worrisome curriculum, and force students to learn the ideology that she and other United Conservatives want students to learn. So she wants to break apart the organization of teachers, despite them being the reason Alberta continues to perform at the front of the pack in the world.
LaGrange thinks she can wag the dog. She thinks she can manipulate you into thinking she is the saviour of your children through her lies and deceit. Ever since April of 2019 when she was elected, she has consistently shown that she does not care about your children. She has fired Educational Assistants, cut funding to education, created a fully ideological and dangerous curriculum using racist consultants and plagiarism, and has not provided the necessities for operating schools through a pandemic causing not just a second wave, but also a third and fourth. She has been the last person to put "Students First", and the "Students First Act" continues her path of being anything but.
The teachers who LaGrange said she had look at the curriculum had their non-disclosure agreements expire, and they came out fighting for students the way they should. So she accuses teachers of something they didn't do, slanders the Association, and undermines teachers' credibility. Then she pulls back some of the curriculum, saying "we listened", despite 9 months of evidence to the contrary. So now she hopes that the furor around the dispicable curriculum dies down so that she can focus on union-busting. And once busted, maybe then she can return to her ideology.
The problem is that she has just called 46,000 Albertans people who don't "protect students from a predatory teacher." I take that as a very personal attack.
If you are reading this, there is a high likelihood you have met me or know me. If you do, you'll know how absolutely disgusting and ludicrous such a personal attack on me is. Then you'll think of every other teacher who has bent themselves over backwards to try to help your children make it through this pandemic with a sound education, with as little mental anguish as possible, both online and in-person (many times both at the same time), and realize just how disgusting and ludicrous such an attack is on those teachers as well.
Remember, Albertans, you're the dog. You're the loyal companion who cares about your children. And you wag your own tail. It's time to do so. Call or Email LaGrange, and tell her that any bill, especially the inappropriately named "Students First Act", that serves to diminish the ATA's role in discipline is a poor decision, because it seems to be the only leg of the discipline process that is working.