Education choice strengthened by passage of Bill 15 and funding framework improvements: June in review


Congratulations to students and parents for officially completing the 2019/20 school year, especially given the unprecedented challenges of the past few months! 

June has also been an eventful month in the landscape of education choice - learn more from the updates below!  


Choice in Education Act passes third reading & receives royal assent

Bill 15, the Choice in Education Act, successfully passed third reading late in the evening, Wednesday, June 24 after extensive debate, including nine proposed (and defeated) amendments by the NDP. 

It received royal assent on June 26th and will come into force September 1, 2020.

Learn more about the impact of Bill 15 on Alberta’s education landscape from an analysis prepared by Parents for Choice in Education (PCE): Explore the new Choice in Education Act with PCE


PCE is hiring - application deadline quickly approaching!

On May 21, 2020, PCE Executive Director Donna Trimble released a statement announcing her resignation effective August 31, 2020 and thus launching PCE's search for a new Executive Director.

Do you know someone who may be interested in applying for this important and exciting role?

The June 30th application deadline is quickly approaching (just a few days away!) so if you know someone who may be a good fit for this job please invite them to check out the job posting as soon as possible!


Exploring other K-12 education options in Alberta?

As this unusual school year draws to a close, many students and parents are thinking about options for next school year.  Given concerns with COVID-19, some are even exploring education contexts they hadn’t previously considered.

That said, PCE invites families to peruse our section “K-12 Education options in Alberta” for links to information about a variety of different education delivery options.


New education funding framework: Resolving threats to education choice

The manner in which education funding is allocated can either hinder or support authentic education choice. That said, education funding is a key area of advocacy for PCE.

In late February Alberta Education released an interim version of a new funding framework, creating a drastic shift in the way education funding would be allocated in Alberta.  



One of the most significant changes in the new funding framework was to move away from funding allocated on a per student basis, previously based on actual September 30th enrollment counts, and instead use a three year “Weighted Moving Average (WMA)” approach. 

This new WMA approach means that funding will now be allocated by government to school authorities in the spring based on a weighted average of student enrollment measured over a three year period - taking into account student enrolment projections for the next year (weighted 50%), enrolment for the current year (weighted 30%) and enrolment from the previous year (weighted 20%).

PCE recognizes there are some benefits to this new approach, including:

  • Increased predictability - school authorities know exactly how much money they have to work with in the spring and can plan accordingly for the next school year.
  • Increased flexibility through streamlining of grant envelopes.
  • Increased capacity for local decision-making and local accountability as school authorities have more autonomy regarding how they choose to allocate funds within their own division.

However, PCE is also concerned that shifting to a WMA approach creates less responsiveness to student needs since there is no longer a direct correlation between the actual needs of students on the ground and the levels of funding provided. This approach will be especially challenging for school authorities with faster-paced growth, and those with smaller economies of scale.



From March until mid-June, PCE worked extensively and diligently to help mitigate several threats posed to education choice contained in both the February and April 2020 versions of the funding manual.

PCE has greatly appreciated this government's willingness to engage in a wide range of ongoing consultations to gather feedback on the funding framework and we applaud the Department of Education for their willingness to make substantive changes based on this feedback.

When comparing the original February 2020 interim manual to the most recent June 2020 version there are several noteworthy positive changes that help support education choice, as described below.


Home education:

First, it is important to reiterate what is meant by home education in Alberta - namely that it is a distinction of authority, not location. 

A student is classified as home education only when their parent is in full authority to direct their education program, as governed by the Home Education Regulation. 

Note that if any part of a child’s education program is provided by a teacher employed by a school division - regardless of whether the learning/activities take place at home - then that portion of a student's programming is not classified as home education, but rather as "school at home" or distance/online learning (to learn more visit PCE's page Understanding home education in Alberta)

Some of PCE’s initial concerns with the earlier February and/or April version of the funding manual:

  • Initially, home education was included in the WMA calculation. However, given the unique nature of non-resident boards it would be especially challenging to provide accurate projections for student enrolment, especially months in advance.
  • Plans to include the $850 home education supervision allocation in the WMA calculation meant fast growing programs would have less money per student to work with and this would ultimately de-incentivize the growth of successful programs.

Resolution of concerns in updated June 2020 funding manual (see pages 30-31 and 59-60):

  • Home education has now been removed from the WMA calculation and instead school authorities will be allocated a per student rate of $1,700 based on the September 30th enrolment counts; at least 50% of this funding must be allocated to the parent for the purchase of instructional materials.
  • Parents will have up to two years to access the parent portion of their funding allocation.
  • According to page 30, “Parents will be allowed to transfer some or all of the parental portion of the home education funding to the associate school authority for education supports should they choose to. If parents decide to transfer their funding, they will be required to sign a Parent Declaration Form to facilitate this transfer. If parents decline or do not claim the parent portion of Home Education funding, Alberta Education will recover the unclaimed/declined portion, the year following the previous two year period.”


Shared responsibility:

Shared responsibility is intended to allow students to access parent-directed programming (that is, home education) in combination with teacher-directed programming (whether online, brick and mortar schools, distance education).

Some of PCE’s initial concerns with the earlier February and/or April version of the funding manual:

  • Initially, school authorities were only to receive a flat rate of $700, in addition to the home education grant, for any student who wished to access a shared responsibility option. However, a school authority would be unable to offer much teacher-directed programming for only $700, outside of perhaps one course.  This spring, PCE heard from numerous parents who were told by school authorities that they could no longer afford to offer this option at all, rendering it inaccessible to students, or they were only offering the option of one teacher-directed course.
  • Initially the funding manual permitted school authorities to siphon off the parent-directed portion of funds (which is already only $850 or less for an entire school year), without any permission, in order to cover costs related to the teacher-directed portion.

Resolution of concerns in updated June 2020 funding manual (see pages 30-31 and 59-60):

  • Funding for students will now be allocated by government to school authorities based on the percentage of the program that is parent-directed and the percentage that is teacher-directed.
  • This change restores the financial viability for school authorities to offer increased options as the teacher-directed portion will be funded commensurate to any student receiving teacher-directed programming in any other context.
  • This change restores choice and flexibility to students who can now choose the courses and proportion of each delivery model that works best for their needs.
  • There seems to be a more clear delineation between the funding provided for each portion of programming, whether parent-directed or teacher-directed, with each being more contained within its own “pocket”:
    • A parent’s signed agreement is required before school authorities are permitted to use any of the parent-directed portion of funds to cover the cost of courses or instructional materials for teacher-directed programming. 
    • The manual now states that “Reimbursements to parents of students in a Home Education or Shared Responsibility program, may not exceed $850.00 in value per year… whether they are reimbursements, ordered by purchase order or directly procured by school or district.”


Distance education:

Some of PCE’s initial concerns with the earlier February and/or April version of the funding manual:

  • Initially, arbitrary thresholds were created to provide funds by number of credits (primary registrations) or number of students (non-primary registrations). These arbitrary thresholds made the financial viability of providing a range of distance education options unworkable for school authorities and therefore inaccessible to students, thereby severely limiting choice in education.

Resolution of concerns in updated June 2020 funding manual (see pages 28-29 and 58-59):

  • For primary registration students: students accessing part-time distance education (i.e. less than 35 credits) will be allocated funding from the government to the school authority according to the student’s number of credits. This change restores the financial viability for school authorities to offer increased options of part-time credit amounts and thus restores choice and flexibility to students who can now choose to access distance education at a credit amount that works best for their needs.
  • For non-primary students: Funding will be adjusted for all school authorities to recognize low enrolment counts between 1-34 students.


Conservative Party leadership race: Get to know the candidates

As you may be aware, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is in the midst of selecting a new leader for their federal party.

Leadership races – whether provincially or federally – offer a tremendous opportunity to influence the trajectory of a political party, as well as the future direction of our province and country.

In fact, whoever wins the CPC leadership has the potential to become Canada’s next Prime Minister if the Conservative Party was to form government after the next election. 

Learn more about each candidate’s stance on a variety of issues – including parental authority – by visiting “Conservative Update”, an online resource offering videos and links to the policies and websites of each of the four candidates.  Only those who already have a CPC members will be eligible to vote in this leadership race.




Included below are several recently published articles, related to our advocacy toward an excellent, quality-oriented, choice-driven education system which recognizes parental authority.


David Staples: The big story in Alberta education? There's no ugly battle over school choice

Edmonton Journal, 2020.06.26

“I’ve been hit over the head with one such agreement this week in the legislature’s debate over Bill 15, the Kenney government’s slight tinkering to increase Alberta’s already abundant school choice options.  Unlike almost every other North American school jurisdiction, Alberta is generally at peace over school choice." [READ MORE]


Guest opinion: School diversity and parental choice strengthen system

Calgary Herald, 2020.06.24

"[This reform] also removes the possibility that any school board— unwelcoming to competition — could create high barriers to prevent the creation of new charter schools. And Alberta families are increasingly choosing charter schools for their children... Between 2000-01 and 2014-15, enrolment at charter schools rose from 2,558 to 9,131 — an increase of 257 per cent." [READ MORE]


Let's have diversity of school choices

Financial Post, 2020.06.16

"The opposite of diversity and freedom is a government monopoly. The fact that in Canada there is both a government monopoly on health care and a near-monopoly on schooling suggests this country isn’t as free and diverse as many of us might think." [READ MORE]


Why Homeschool? Parents, Educators & Students Comment On The Benefits Of Homeschooling Community Discussion, 2020.06.10

PCE has received numerous queries around home education, especially since the disruptions which have occurred over the past few months. For anyone considering this option, here is a page offering a collection of first-hand reflections from students, parents and educators related to their home education experiences. [READ MORE]


As a non-profit organization, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) depends entirely on the voluntary donations of citizens to carry out its mission of advocating for excellence in education through maximum parental choice. 

To continue this extremely important work, PCE appreciates any financial support that you may be able to contribute at this time.  You can become a monthly donor or make a one-time donation through the options listed on our donate page.  

Thank you to each person who helps make this work possible!