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Concerned about education cuts, students launch online campaign

Last Updated Nov 21, 2019 at 4:17 pm MST

(CREDIT: iStock user mangpor_2004)

CALGARY – A new Instagram account has popped up in Calgary, but it’s not a meme page or an Instagram model account which have become common on the platform.

The new handle, @OurVoiceYourChoice, was created specifically for concerned students to express fears about education cuts made in the provincial budget.

The account so far has only one post in its feed, but there’s a compelling caption to go along with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) logo.

“Last week seven teachers from our school were laid off due to a financial crisis in Alberta, because of a lack of tax money going into our education system, and a need to cover the gap in the budget,” reads the post from a group identifying itself as students from Joane Cardinal Schubert High School.

“We are concerned for not only the teachers but also our quality of education.” The post encourages followers and commenters to sign an online petition drawing attention to the funding crisis.

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Zoe Montgomery is one of the three students who manage the account. She says her school is already feeling the pinch from funding rollbacks.

“We’re going to have fewer resources available–laptops, books, textbooks. I know some of my teachers aren’t allowed to spend any money on any supplies for their classrooms. And that affects day-to-day classes but it also affects extracurriculars,” she explained.

“There’s no money for musical instruments for band, no sports supplies, it affects programs and clubs all throughout the school.”

She says some restrictions on printer use have been put in place limiting the number of assignments and projects that can be printed off at school.

With fewer teachers available and more kids per class, Montgomery worries that the students who need extra help the most will fall through the cracks.

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“There will be less catered education for students with, for example, ADHD or dyslexia… It will be difficult for those students to thrive in the class environment.”

Overall, Montgomery says the responses to the Instagram account and petition attached it have been positive, with the group of students having to increase the goal for the number of signatures on the petition.

“We’re really happy with the feedback we’ve got so far,” she said.

“Ideally, we want people to reach out to their MLAs and start the conversation and make sure that everyone knows whats going on. We want students specifically to know that they have a voice and we want to be that voice for students all around Calgary and Alberta.”

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And with the conversation started on this Instagram account, Montgomery has a hard time buying the old feeling that younger generations aren’t engaged in politics.

“I don’t think that’s accurate, no,” she said.

“Based upon the feedback we’ve seen, people are very willing to talk about what’s going on and willing to put their input in and I do believe that our generation can make a difference. I don’t think that we’re disconnected.”

The petition, which was only started yesterday, has nearly 1,000 signatures.