Archive - Wildrose Leadership Survey

Brian Jean won the Wildrose Leadership on March.28, 2015

PCE works to ensure Alberta citizens have a firm understanding of the potential direction of political competitors at all levels of government. Presently three individuals are vying for the Wildrose Leadership. Just as was done during the PC Leadership campaign-the results of which can be found in our archives-we sent out a 9-question survey to the three candidates who are running for the leadership of the Wildrose Party (Brian Jean, Linda Osinchuk, and Drew Barnes). Parents for Choice in Education is not tied to any particular political party; however, as the winner of this leadership race will be leading an important opposition party in the Alberta Legislature, we felt it was important to gauge their positions on issues surrounding education and school choice.
The survey was sent out to the candidates on March 5th, 2015, and they were informed of an initial date of publication to our PCE website of March 9th, 2015. The responses are found below, in the order they were received.
Brian Jean:
1. Do you believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, with the ultimate authority to determine the type and kind of education provided to their children?
Absolutely
2.  Do you agree that since all parents are required to pay education taxes, the provincial government should continue to provide funding for a wide and diverse range of educational choices for parents?
Yes
3. Do you believe that the provincial education curriculum should be based on key education outcomes for K-12, teach both knowledge and skills, and should include elements of both memorization and problem solving; and do you believe that educators should be able to pick curriculum, methodology and tools that best suit their students as long as these key foundations are met?
I am concerned that our teachers are being pressured to implement experimental or restrictive new teaching methods that do not serve many students well.  I strongly believe that the government’s role is to set out the general core knowledge and skills expected at every grade level, and to hold educators and principals accountable, but to let teachers use the methods that work best in their classrooms for their students.
4. Current legislation requires parental notification in regards to lessons that deal primarily and explicitly with religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation. Do you believe that this notice should continue to be provided, and that parents should have the freedom to opt their child out of these lessons?
Yes I certainly support this, within reason.  I think common sense needs to be exercised in this respect - if a lesson deals with contentious religious or sexual issues, it seems reasonable that parents should know about this and have an option to opt in or out. If a lesson deals with commonly discussed issues which might normally belong in a social studies or history class, I’m not so sure parental notification is relevant.  That is to say, if it is more of a history lesson in civil rights or religious persecution then I am not persuaded parental notification is needed in the way it is if the discussion is about the content of religion or sexuality.
 5. There is a long tradition in Alberta of alternative faith-based, language-based, and academic programs being delivered as part of the public system, both in the form of stand-alone schools and as programs within other schools. Do you support the continuation of existing programs and do you believe that these alternative programs should be able to expand in response to increased demand?
I firmly believe that choice and alternative programming – which in other places across North America is called the “Edmonton Model” – has been key to Alberta having the successful outcomes we have had in recent decades.  Competition always pushes people to do better.  Also, as the schools in the core of our big cities see enrolment drop and the suburbs burst at the seams, attractive charter and other programming can be a draw for inner city schools, which helps the system overall.
6. Current Alberta legislation prohibits the teaching of violence and racism.  Aside from this legitimate restriction, parents are free to choose the curriculum that will be taught to their children.  Parents are also free to choose a religious school that hires teachers that adhere to the tenets of the faith; that has codes of conduct for both staff and students; and that has discretion to allow (or disallow) student activities and clubs.  Do you believe that religious schools, in conformity with current legislation, should be permitted to continue operating according to their traditional faith teachings?
Yes, I’m satisfied with the current demands made of religious schools as well as the protections Alberta law provides. I believe that parents should have control over choice in education for their children as long as it operates within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada. Autonomy of separate schools is older than our province and should be maintained.     
7. Do you support the continuing existence of a separate Catholic school system that teaches, affirms, and models the fullness of Catholic Church teaching?
The separate Catholic school system has its autonomy Constitutionally enshrined in law from over 100 years ago and I support that.
8. Do you believe that home schooling families in Alberta should continue to have the freedom to teach in a way consistent with their religious and other familial values, and to shape a curriculum which reflects those values? 
Yes. Again, as long as these teachings operate within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of Canada.
9.  Is there anything else that you would like to add about your position that is not covered in the above?
Thank-you Brian Jean, for your responses.
Linda Osinchuk:
1. Do you believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, with the ultimate authority to determine the type and kind of education provided to their children?
 Yes. Unfortunately there are parents that do not take their responsibility seriously leaving the teacher or school district to ensure these children are well educated and safe.
2.  Do you agree that since all parents are required to pay education taxes, the provincial government should continue to provide funding for a wide and diverse range of educational choices for parents?
Yes
3. Do you believe that the provincial education curriculum should be based on key education outcomes for K-12, teach both knowledge and skills, and should include elements of both memorization and problem solving; and do you believe that educators should be able to pick curriculum, methodology and tools that best suit their students as long as these key foundations are met?
The Alberta Curriculum provides the wide range of tools and methodology that Alberta teachers are required to follow. That being said, I truly support individuality of teaching styles and tools within a safe and caring environment, so they can focus on individual students and their learning abilities.
4. Current legislation requires parental notification in regards to lessons that deal primarily and explicitly with religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation. Do you believe that this notice should continue to be provided, and that parents should have the freedom to opt their child out of these lessons?
Yes, in primary grades K-8. Once a children enters high school, I don’t believe it’s necessary.
 5. There is a long tradition in Alberta of alternative faith-based, language-based, and academic programs being delivered as part of the public system, both in the form of stand-alone schools and as programs within other schools. Do you support the continuation of existing programs and do you believe that these alternative programs should be able to expand in response to increased demand?
Yes
6. Current Alberta legislation prohibits the teaching of violence and racism.  Aside from this legitimate restriction, parents are free to choose the curriculum that will be taught to their children.  Parents are also free to choose a religious school that hires teachers that adhere to the tenets of the faith; that has codes of conduct for both staff and students; and that has discretion to allow (or disallow) student activities and clubs.  Do you believe that religious schools, in conformity with current legislation, should be permitted to continue operating according to their traditional faith teachings?   
7. Do you support the continuing existence of a separate Catholic school system that teaches, affirms, and models the fullness of Catholic Church teaching?
Absolutely
8. Do you believe that home schooling families in Alberta should continue to have the freedom to teach in a way consistent with their religious and other familial values, and to shape a curriculum which reflects those values?
Definitely
9.  Is there anything else that you would like to add about your position that is not covered in the above?
I support GSA’s when and where students ask to have one. I also support inclusivity for all. These safety clubs could be a great opportunity for sharing sessions between parents and students. They can dialogue on areas such as bulling and/or other sensitive topics. Just to inform you I am a Catholic. I believe in God. I was a School Board Trustee for the Elk Island School Board for 3 years and was vice-chair of Zone 23 with the ASBA. God Bless
Thank-you Linda Osinchuk, for your responses.
Drew Barnes:


  1.  Do you believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, with the ultimate authority to determine the type and kind of education provided to their children?

Yes, I firmly believe that parents are the primary educators of their children and should have  the paramount responsibility  for the education of the child.

  1.   Do you agree that since all parents are required to pay education taxes, the provincial government should continue to provide funding for a wide and diverse range of educational choices for parents?

Yes, I agree that all parents as taxpayers should have access to educational choices.

  1.  Do you believe that the provincial education curriculum should be based on key education outcomes for K-12, teach both knowledge and skills, and should include elements of both memorization and problem solving; and do you believe that educators should be able to pick curriculum, methodology and tools that best suit their students as long as these key foundations are met?

Yes, I do support giving our educators the tools and freedom necessary to continue to do excellent work in our classrooms.  In conjunction with parental involvement.   I believe that any teaching methods must, first and foremost, ensure that key, foundational concepts are effectively learned and retained by our students. I believe in upholding standards to ensure accountability in our education system. I also think that teachers, parents and local decision makers are most well-equipped to understand what works for their students and communities to meet standards of excellence in teaching.

  1.  Current legislation requires parental notification in regards to lessons that deal primarily and explicitly with religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation. Do you believe that this notice should continue to be provided, and that parents should have the freedom to opt their child out of these lessons?

It is reasonable to believe that the parent, as the primary educator of their children, should retain the freedom to opt their children out of certain lessons.
 5.  There is a long tradition in Alberta of alternative faith-based, language-based, and academic programs being delivered as part of the public system, both in the form of stand-alone schools and as programs within other schools. Do you support the continuation of existing programs and do you believe that these alternative programs should be able to expand in response to increased demand?
Alternative programs are a key component of a dynamic, flexible, responsive education system. Any education system must acknowledge the uniqueness of each individual student and support choice in programming.
I believe that creativity flourishes when decision making and funding are closest to the community and its individuals. We have seen that supporting alternative programs here in Alberta has allowed for more specialized, tailor-made educational options that ultimately help our children with their unique needs. I support the continuation of this approach that allows for adaptive, creative programs to thrive.

  1.  Current Alberta legislation prohibits the teaching of violence and racism.  Aside from this legitimate restriction, parents are free to choose the curriculum that will be taught to their children.  Parents are also free to choose a religious school that hires teachers that adhere to the tenets of the faith; that has codes of conduct for both staff and students; and that has discretion to allow (or disallow) student activities and clubs.  Do you believe that religious schools, in conformity with current legislation, should be permitted to continue operating according to their traditional faith teachings?

Yes, I see no reason that religious schools operating under the current legislation, including those in the Catholic school system, should not be able to continue to operate in accordance with their faith. These schools are capable of providing quality education that produces excellent results in core areas of knowledge and skills.

  1.  Do you support the continuing existence of a separate Catholic school system that teaches, affirms, and models the fullness of Catholic Church teaching?

The separate Catholic School System has a long and rich tradition in Alberta and I will continue to support their work across the province.

  1.  Do you believe that home schooling families in Alberta should continue to have the freedom to teach in a way consistent with their religious and other familial values, and to shape a curriculum which reflects those values?

Yes, and I believe that this is consistent with my firm belief that the parent remain the primary educator of their children because they are ultimately the best authority to ensure the unique, educational needs of the child are met.

  1.  Is there anything else that you would like to add about your position that is not covered in the above?

I feel it is important to reiterate the position of the Wildrose – a position I have always personally held as a Wildrose MLA and Education Critic – on the elimination of curricular fees. We, as Albertans, support the public education system through our tax dollars. To charge school fees for curricular programs puts an unnecessary and unfair burden on the backs of families who should not be forced to pay these needless user fees to obtain quality education for their children.
Thank-you Drew Barnes, for your responses.

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