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OPINION: APU Says "Let the Teachers Teach!"

While Alberta families were trying to enjoy their summer break, bureaucrats in Edmonton were trying to fundamentally change the role of a teacher in Alberta.

They nearly got away with it too, because almost no one noticed.

We did though!

Starting in June, Alberta Children's Services (yes, that's right, not even Alberta Education!) began to inform school boards in Alberta about a series of "additional duties" for teachers.

Designed to sound as benign as possible, these emails from Children's Services actually outline a completely new process for handling allegations of abuse.

In short, the "additional duties" require teachers and administrators to ask detailed questions of children and probe for information to assess and rank the danger of the child's environment.

Let me be clear, abuse allegations are very serious and should be treated as such, and teachers can play a vital role in reporting certain situations to the appropriate authorities.

But this proposal from Children's Services actually goes completely against the current guidance provided by Alberta Education to teachers.

The current guidance explicitly tells teachers not to probe for details, and instead contact the relevant authorities who are specifically trained to deal with these sensitive circumstances.

If implemented, this policy risks creating a more adversarial relationship between parents and teachers who are supposed to work together for the good of the student.

Parents often rely on teachers to discuss difficult situations at home or in the classroom, but the optics of requiring teachers to act as both the reporting agent and the investigating agent of certain allegations doesn't inspire confidence in the system.

It's also important to ensure that any investigation is being done by someone who doesn't already have an existing relationship with the child, and would therefore be more vulnerable to assumptions, bias, and incorrect findings.

In addition, many parents already feel teachers are straying from their role as educators to become political activists.

In a worst-case scenario, where investigations held by teachers came to be seen as furthering a political agenda, the entire system could break down.

It's important we push back against this radical proposed change to the role of teachers in Alberta.

Let's leave sensitive investigations to those who are trained to conduct them, and let teachers focus on being good teachers!

If you agree, please sign this petition to the Alberta Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange, asking her to stand up for parents and teachers, and stop this proposed new policy.

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