EDMONTON - NDP Leader Brian Mason laid out his party's education plan Thursday, one he says will help students from "their first day in public education to their first day on the job."
Mason made the announcement at the shuttered Parkdale School in Edmonton's inner city. The elementary and junior high school closed its doors in 2010. The NDP plan would stop school closures in mature neighbourhoods by revising the education funding formula, which the NDP has criticized for discriminating against older schools.
"It's important that we keep older schools open and work to attract young families into these older neighbourhoods," he said. A $50-million "new beginnings" program is designed to use schools to help revitalize communities, Mason said.
Parkdale School, though boarded up Thursday, will soon reopen as the home of a support program for aboriginal families. The Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society recently signed a two-year lease with Edmonton Public Schools and will start moving in April 1, said school board spokeswoman Jane Sterling.
For young children, the NDP plan would cap the daily cost of full-day child care at $25 and $9 for after-school care, with an NDP government providing subsidies to cover the rest. The plans calls for another $50 million to expand child-care programs. The plan would prohibit instructional fees for students in kindergarten to Grade 12 and introduce voluntary full-day kindergarten.
The NDP would also immediately freeze tuition for university students and cut fees by 10 per cent in 2012. Graduates who stay in Alberta would have $1,000 in loans forgiven every year until their debt is paid.
"This plan will help forge a generation of Alberta young people who start adult life on the right foot, with a quality education, minimal debt from school and a strong and vibrant community to call home," Mason said.
The plan's cost, he said, will be released along with those of other proposals early next week, but that it would be covered by a revised royalty scheme.
Earlier in the day, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith introduced a child-care tax credit that would save parents $200 per child annually.
Mason criticized the Wildrose plan, calling it "inadequate."
"A $200-per-child tax credit is minimal. I think they're trying to create the impression that they want to help families with kids afford the daily cost of life, but that is not going to go very far at all."
Edmonton Journal, Fri Mar 30 2012
Byline: Nicki Thomas