We sent out a 9-question survey to the three candidates who are running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. Parents for Choice in Education is not tied to any particular political party; however, as the winner of this leadership race will be the next Premiere of our province, we felt it was important to gauge their positions on issues surrounding education and school choice.
The questions we posed are as follows:
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?
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?
3. Do you believe that the provincial education curriculum should teach both knowledge and skill, and should include elements of both memorization and problem solving?
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?
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?
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?
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?
9. Is there anything else that you would like to add about your position that is not covered in the above?
All three candidates provided a response, but all did so in the form of a statement. Only Ric McIver's team referenced the questions at all.
"Ric's response to every single question in your survey is a very simple "YES".
If there is anything further we can do to assist in communicating this survey to your members or independent schools across Alberta, please let me know.
Thanks again for all you do to promote Choice in Education!"
"I believe in choice within our education system, so long as it comes with a very strong public system. I would hate to see an environment where parents are choosing private because public schools are sub-par.
As Premier, I will ensure our public schools are top quality, making them the primary choice for the vast majority of parents. Private schools should exist to provide an option for parents who want a specific learning environment for their children, such as religious instruction.
Parents have an incredibly important role to play in the education of their children. Alberta’s teachers and parents should work co-operatively to help students reach their full potential.
With respect to bullying, it is an ongoing issue in our schools. As you know, I voted in favour of Motion 503 to allow Gay-Straight Alliances in all schools where students want them. Quite simply, it is wrong for administrators to prohibit students who want to promote tolerance and compassion towards victims of bullying.
I hope you will support me on September 6. Please visit VoteThomas.ca to learn more about my vision for tomorrow in Alberta."
"Jim Prentice believes that nothing is more important than to have the best schools and an educational system that is driven by educators and parents. Alberta needs a school curriculum that both teaches students the fundamentals-how to read, write, add, subtract, multiply and divide-and also prepares them to apply higher order thinking skills to solving difficult problems that they will have to tackle as they become our next leaders.
Alberta is the economic engine of Canada, and we must ensure that Albertans get the education and skills needed to continue building our bright future. Education and skills training will have a preeminent role in a government led by Jim Prentice; he has said that his Education Ministers will be among the most senior ministers in my Cabinet, right there with the Finance and Health ministers.
Jim Prentice believes that educational choice strengthens our system, and supports schools of choice as an integral element of the multitude of education programming options available to Alberta students. Jim fully supports all of Alberta’s education streams: public, separate, charter and home schooling. Indeed, home school and private schools, including faith-based schools, are successful options that every Albertan can access.
Parental choice is critically important in deciding which stream is best for their children. The role of the Province is to ensure that our children meet the necessary standards of learning, while ensuring parents can participate and exercise their choice.
And as your Premier, Jim Prentice will pay particular attention to how school facilities are funded to meet current needs and the needs of the coming years to ensure that we give our children the best education in Canada.
Thank you for contacting Jim Prentice for his views on parental choice. Jim is passionate about education and I hope you will support Jim Prentice for PC Leader."
You can learn more about each of the candidates and their positions on various issue on their websites:
The Leadership Election will take place on September 6th, 2014, with a second vote to take place on September 20th if required. In order to vote, you must purchase a membership in the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta by midnight on September 3rd. More information on memberships, the leadership race, and how to vote can be found on the PC Alberta website here: