Overcrowded classrooms worry Alberta teachers

Alberta teachers are using social media in an effort to pressure the province to reduce class sizes.

Edmonton public, Catholic school boards face crowded classrooms at K-3 levels

The Alberta Teacher Association says 12 core classes offered in various schools throughout the province had more than 44 students during the 2017/2018 school year.

Alberta teachers are using social media in an effort to pressure the province to reduce class sizes.

The campaign, launched by the Alberta Teachers Association a month ago, asks teachers to compare their class sizes to government classroom size targets and post a photo on social media.

"I think this is an issue that is clearly resonating with teachers," said Jonathan Teghtmeyer, ATA spokesperson.

"They have seen their classes grow over the past few years and they're seeing the complexity of the classrooms increase."

Early grades most crowded

According to Teghtmeyer in a blog post, the problem is "more acute" for the primary grades.

The targets, developed in 2003 but never updated, recommend K-3 classes have 17 students.

Based on Alberta Education numbers for the 2016-2017 school year, Edmonton Public School Board schools offering Kindergarten to Grade 3 averaged 22.2 students per class.

Edmonton Catholic schools averaged 21.1 students in K-3.

For Grades 4 to 12 both school boards are near the targets though individual classrooms can vary widely.  

'Trying to maintain the quality'

Education Minister David Eggen said Wednesday that he's aware of the ATA campaign and the concerns of teachers  about crowded classrooms.

He said the government allocated $75 million to classroom improvements in the recent collective agreement.

"We put that money in good faith to have it applied to classrooms and we hope school boards will do so," he said.

Premier Rachel Notley said Tuesday that she is aware of the "My Class Size is..." campaign launched by the Alberta Teachers Association. (CBC)

The premier told CBC Tuesday that crowded classrooms is an issue that her government is trying to address.

"There's no question that best practices would be to reduce them even more. But as things stand right now, we're trying to maintain the quality that we can."

In a blog post, Teghtmeyer says that around 2,000 teachers would need to be hired in order to reduce classroom sizes to target levels.