A Personal Contemplation on Protecting Parental Choice in Education
Alberta’s education system is the best in Canada because it provides maximum choice for parents. Alberta’s education laws are consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Alberta parents (unlike parents in most provinces) can choose to send their children to a diverse range of schools: public, Catholic, private, alternative, charter, and homeschooling. Since all parents are required to pay education taxes, all of these different parental choices receive provincial government funding (full or partial). However, over-reach in the experimentation and implementation of core curricula by the Alberta Government, via Alberta Education, including but not encompassing Discovery Math and Inspiring Education, has diminished parent choice from the inside out. Parents for Choice in Education do not believe that any school should be banned from using a curriculum pedagogy that they believe will endow their students with the best outcomes. This may include the afore-mentioned curricula or schools may chose to forgo such curricula and choose, instead, to opt for a more traditional or classical methodology. Only when core curriculum is not mandated, but rather chosen by each unique education setting, will parent choice run deep enough to be genuinely free.
Alberta parents currently enjoy the freedom to choose Catholic and other religious schools that have specific codes of conduct consistent with their faith for their teachers and students. However, in the last sitting of the Alberta Legislature Bills were tabled that would have forced all schools to include Gay Straight Alliance Clubs at the request of students, without the primacy of parent or educator choice. While Parents for Choice in Education is not adverse to Gay Straight Alliances in schools, we believe that the primacy of decision making on such issues (which are contrary to many traditions held by Alberta families across Alberta) goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore, while parents, educators and students who are of like mind may introduce unique clubs of a variety of kinds into their schools, no club can and should be forced on educational settings as this would be in contradiction to the primacy of parental choice in education.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
- Alberta parents, all of whom pay taxes, should continue to have the right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, and this choice should include Catholic schools and other religious schools;
- Alberta’s schools should continue to have the right to develop and maintain codes of conduct for teachers and students that are consistent with the school’s mission, philosophy and approach to education, in agreement with court rulings that teachers are a "medium" of the beliefs, knowledge and character sought to be transmitted by the school;
- Alberta’s schools should continue to have the right to allow (or disallow) student activities and clubs depending on whether the club or activity conforms (or not) with the school’s mission, vision and purpose, as determined by the school’s founding documentation and philosophy;
- The Alberta government should seek to preserve and expand parental choice in education by fostering the authentic diversity that is manifested by a broad range of different educational alternatives, and provide curriculum that identifies core knowledge objectives, but does not mandate a philosophy or methodology of instruction.
- If you stand with Parents for Choice in Education consider getting involved.
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Parents for Choice in Education is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that promotes excellence in education and school choice in Alberta. More information can be found on its website at www.parentchoice.ca .