Hundreds of students skip class, protest cuts to education at legislature
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013 1:44PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 11, 2013 7:04PM MDT
Despite warnings from the public school district, hundreds of Edmonton high school students staged a walkout from their classrooms Tuesday, to protest education cuts at the legislature.
Hundreds of high school students from schools throughout the city were at the legislature Tuesday at about 11 a.m., demonstrating against planned budget cuts to education.
For one of the organizers, they’re standing up for an important cause.
“Most of us are in the performing arts, and we feel that it is important for us to speak for our education, and for our lives,” Grade 12 Student Hayden Weir said. “Because no one else is ultimately going to take responsibility for it.”
It’s a demonstration that already sparked controversy – as Tuesday’s protest gained momentum on social media; it prompted the Edmonton Public School District to release a statement saying they didn’t support the protest.
“It has nothing to do with the school district, children are expected to stay in their classrooms,” Jane Sterling with Edmonton Public Schools said Monday. “If they leave, there will be no attempt to stop them, however, they’ll be marked as absent.”
In addition, the way many students would get to the legislature raised eyebrows – as buses were chartered with the use of a $2,000 donation from the United Federation of Labour, to transport the students.
“The reality is, that these students wouldn’t be organizing protest, engaging in civil action if the province and the school board had done their job and provided for core education,” AFL President Gil McGowan said Monday.
While the premier said she supports the students’ right to protest, she pointed out education is receiving a funding boost – but the issue is that enrollment has also gone up.
“That money is focused on classrooms, we’ve come to a very manageable deal with teachers to ensure there’s sustainability in education,” Premier Alison Redford said.
The students were marked absent for taking part in the protest.
Meanwhile, the Edmonton Public School Board is planning to meet Tuesday, to try and work out how to best manage the cutbacks.
The school board had looked at the possibility of adding a tax levy to make up for a $53 million funding shortfall – but after hearing public input, the idea was dropped.
The board said only 30 percent of respondents were on-side, and with a $100,000 cost for a plebiscite,
With files from Brenna Rose