I did some tweeting about last night’s Progressive Conservative leadership forum last night, which you can check out on my Twitter page, @JProssa, or by looking through the #pcldr hashtag currently employed for all things PC leadership race related.
I have many, many thoughts on the things said last night but they will have to spread out among a few posts.
I will start though with my take on their responses to a question on investing/funding Post-Secondary Ed, and primary/secondary education.
My tweets on this:
Q: budget cutbacks on PSE and secondary Ed. Redford: need to honor teachers contract, reverse decision to cuts to Ed. #pcldr
Redford uses the life long learning slogan, and knowledge based economy. (So many things to say, so little characters here.) #pcldr
Morton : PSE tax credit, invest in yourself, tax credit up to 20 000.00 #pcdebate #pcldr
Mar: need more resources in education, need to honor contracts, work on completion rates. #pcdebate #pcldr
Horner: puts Ed as no. 1 priority in his platform. Invest earlier, put resources into the classroom, budget for outcomes not %. #pcldr
Orman: calls govt on cutting budgets, and cutting Ed funds. Need stable and long term funding. #pcdebate #pcldr
.@GriffMLA: long term plans to train teachers and keep teachers, don’t depend on oil price rise and fall. #pcldr
Morton: focus yech on ag, forestry And oil and gas. #pcldr
Starting with Morton’s desire to create a tax credit. While that would be a nice kick back at the end of a five-year degree it does not address the very fundamental problem of access. For students who attend school with loans, and full or part-time jobs, the after part is not their biggest stress. It is the month to month living that they worry about. It is keeping a roof over their head and textbooks on their desks.
When it costs an average of $7000.00 a year to attend an Albertan University, it is the sticker shock that deters future students. Which Morton, and others at the table, didn’t address the access issue. It is the middle-income earners, and those who are very poor who cannot attend school because of the start-up costs.
Later on the in the forum, there was discussion of technology in Alberta and how to increase that economic sector. Candidates expressed interest in supporting new businesses and entrepreneurs, but it was Redford
who explicitly said strong education in those sectors is the key. Support students in Alberta and they will stay to give back, and create new and diverse industry in this province.
Too often, politicians, including some of those candidates on the stage last night tell student leaders (full disclosure, I was one, at some distant point in my past and I have sat in meeting with a few of those candidates who DID NOT support additional funding to PSE), that students need to invest in themselves, and the tax payer shouldn’t bear the burden of education.
Yet, an educated province will place less burden on the health care system, diversify the economy, employee more people, and create a stronger future for Alberta. One could call our PSE graduates the “Alberta Advantage”…