Hello Chestermere! As I write this week’s article, there is fresh snow on the ground, and I am so grateful to the men in my family for taking the time to change my tires. The legislature will start soon, and though I take the bus or grab a ride with one of my friends en route to the capital, our riding is large and unpredictable weather wise, so the winter treads are greatly appreciated.
I would like to chat about school choice this week. I wish I could understand how the choice of what type of school you send your child to has become a political, divisive issue. School choice has been a pillar of Alberta, and has given rise to some of the best schools in the country, whether private, public, or charter. Our charter schools for example are renowned for providing special programs and showcasing innovative and effective teaching practices. Remember a government’s role in education is to specify the curriculum, not sowing division amongst the people they represent. Alberta has had one of the best education systems in the world, with amazing teachers, fantastic resources, and standardized testing that helps us to reflect the success of our students. Our students are high performers, competitive and are extremely successful here and in the world. We should be aiming for collaboration, not threats of defunding because of differing opinions. All children deserve safe and caring spaces in their schools, and they also deserve to learn. Critical thinking comes from seeing all the sides, and controversy is part of that, however, to limit thinking because government sees fit to do so shows that we do not value diversity, individual thoughts and/or individual freedoms. It is ridiculous to assume that every child will fit into one system. Moreover it is your right to choose! We spend nearly 10 billion dollars a year to educate our kids. 7.1 billion of that is used to fund “public” schools including Catholic, charter, and Francophone. Administration, school board expenses, debt, pensions as well as capital funding for infrastructure makes up close to a billion dollars. Private schools get about $263 million in funding. To abolish faith-based education the Minister of Education (David Eggen) would need a constitutional amendment., and there are those who are actively trying to make this happen. I have included some important articles to read so that you can see the numbers and how it all works out. Have a look at this Feb. 28 news story from the CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/private-public-schools-funding-alberta-numbers-1.4553955
Please write to us and let us know how you feel. The question you need to ask yourself is: What is the role of the province in your child’s education, and the impact? Minister Eggen is threatening to deny funding from faith- based schools. Is his stated commitment to parental choice in education nothing but lip service? The Herald’s Lisa Corbella begins an October 3 column with these words: “Truth. It’s a word that Alberta Education says isn’t diverse enough and could lead to a school being shut down by the province. This is not a joke.” She goes on to say: “Every Albertan who cares about freedom should be deeply concerned about this, whether they have a faith-based perspective or not. Ultimately, all of our charter freedoms are meaningless if a government that is hostile to one’s beliefs can come in and hijack your church, charity or school. That’s the truth, whether the government likes it or not.”
You may read the full article at: https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/corbella-ndps-attack-on-religious-schools-violates-the-charter. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the Minister has no right to trample on that.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge a dear friend of mine Mr. Syed Najam from “The Love with Humanity Association” community volunteering services who has received along with his association an award from the Prime Minister providing a “Special Recognition Award” for their First Multicultural Free Public Outdoor Libraries in towns and cities in Alberta. This association is dedicated to peace and love around the world and welcomes all with open hearts in spreading love together. I am honoured to know all of you and thank you for your many contributions to our communites. Thank you to all of the incredible volunteers who work with Mr. Najam to bring these libraries to our families. As always we love to hear from you.