Saskatchewan's teachers are being asked to get involved in choosing the new leaders of the province's two main political parties.
On Tuesday, the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) sent out a news release encouraging teachers to take out party memberships and vote in upcoming elections for the Sask. Party and the NDP leadership.
"We think that sitting on the sidelines and trying to advocate for education simply hasn't been working," said STF president Patrick Maze.
"We know that our classrooms have been suffering and our students need support."
- Sask. Opposition accuses government of cutting teachers despite growing enrolment
- 'There will be cuts in the classroom' due to budget, says Sask. Teachers' Federation
On Monday, the Opposition NDP accused the provincial government of cutting back on the number of teachers across the province. According to numbers from the Teachers' Federation, there are 181 fewer teachers in classrooms this year despite preliminary enrolment figures which show a rise in enrolment of 4,500 students.
Education Minister Bronwyn Eyre disputes those numbers, stating that the STF is including administrative positions in that figure.
"I think the cuts to education indicate that education is not a priority with the current government," said Maze.
"We want to make sure that whoever becomes premier knows that education needs to be a priority."
Maze said this is the first time the federation has asked its members to buy party memberships and become involved in leadership contests.
'Don't sit on your couch watching TV in the evening. Get involved in the process.'
- Teachers' Federation President Patrick Maze
He said the STF has no intention of backing any candidate or leader at any point in the campaigns. However, Maze said he feels this is the best way to make education a priority in both parties' campaigns.
"We know that some members will not physically be able to take out a membership in one party or the other because of their own values," he said.
"What we're saying is, don't sit on your couch watching TV in the evening. Get involved in the process."
The federation has reached out to all leadership candidates, asking for their education platforms. The STF plans on posting that information on its website.
The Saskatchewan Party's leadership convention will be held Jan. 27. The Saskatchewan NDP will hold its leadership convention March 3.