Calgary high school students walk out to protest teacher layoffs

About 200 students at a high school in northeast Calgary walked out Tuesday morning to protest teacher layoffs.

'It’s time to take a stand. There’s no more waiting.'

Zahan Syeda helped organize a student walkout on Tuesday to protest teacher layoffs at Lester B. Pearson High School in northeast Calgary. (Mike Symington/CBC)

More than 200 students at a high school in northeast Calgary walked out Tuesday morning to protest teacher layoffs.

Last week, the Calgary Board of Education said it has cut 300 temporary teacher contracts after its provincial funding was reduced by $32 million.

Grade 11 student Zahan Syeda, who organized the protest outside Lester B. Pearson High School, said the cuts will cost her school some of its best teachers, and one English teacher in particular.

"Ms. [Otisha] Sousa came to me and helped me when I was being bullied and no other teacher would help me," she said.

"Some of the teachers who are getting furloughed and laid off actually support us, because they're the ones getting affected by this the most."

Dayan Khan says he joined a protest at Lester B. Pearson High School to lend support to the teachers being let go. (CBC)

Mohamed Elkadri said it's unfair that the school is letting great teachers go based only on how long they've been teaching.

"They shouldn't be firing teachers like Ms. Sousa, because they're good teachers," he said. "She cared about the students and she would take time out of her own day."

Student Dayan Khan said he came out to show support for the teachers.

"We're doing this for their rights, and we love them," he said. "Especially you, Ms. Sousa, you're the best."

"I honestly mostly only come to school for certain teachers, and we're losing most of those teachers, and it's not fair," added another student, Tadeim Kandil. "I'm mad and I'm hurt."

Mohamed Alasidi said young people shouldn't have to suffer because of government cost-cutting.

"For every student in Calgary, it's time to take a stand. There's no more waiting. It's our right for our education. We can't just let the teachers be taken away from us," he said.

Mohamed Alasidi says it's time for all students in Calgary to take a stand against budget cuts. (CBC)

The CBE's plan to cancel the 300 teacher positions prompted accusations of financial mismanagement at the board.

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange ordered an independent financial audit of Calgary's public school board as well as a governance review, citing what she called "reckless" misspending.

Students at Sir Winston Churchill High School staged a similar protest on Monday, Global News reported.


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