The deadline has passed and the media covered it in large part as if these Education Guidelines were always peddled as optional, and not as mandated. Even as we watched Education Minister Eggen appear to walk back the Education Guidelines in a media scrum yesterday many parents across Alberta know that they have become engaged in activism (many for the first time) over this issue, because these guidelines were introduced as far from optional.
If not for the thousands of letters written to school boards, trustees and MLAs, the thousands of signatures added to petitions to the province and school boards (still ongoing), forums and town halls, meetings with our elected MLAs, endless phone calls, twitter campaigns that left brave educators, parents and citizens facing abusive bullying for trying to engage in a civil discussion on the issues and many conversations over the water cooler and in coffee houses across our province, our schools would look very different today than they did just few weeks ago.
While Education Minister Eggen claimed success yesterday because 55 school boards have submitted policies, remember that these policies must still pass muster and many schools may still be pressured to replace broad based anti-bullying policies with more succinct policies based on the Government's supposed 'Best Practices' document. Your boards need to hear of your ongoing support.
Still more boards, like the Calgary Board of Education, have released policies that are extremely disappointing to parents and it is important that parents such as those whose children attend these boards, do all they can to engage their school board and let their voices be heard. This can be done "Under sec. 269 of the School Act, if enough electors sign a petition, the School Board has to convene a public meeting to consider the issue specified in the petition."
I, as Executive Director for Parents for Choice in Education, am personally empowered and edified by the compassionate and courageous parents across this province who have joined Parents for Choice in Education in this grass roots movement to protect Alberta students by ensuring their greatest allies' (parents) rights are not diminished by government edict!
Thank you all for your hard work!
Our work is not done. Remember that parental notification and involvement was stripped in LAW in the Education Act, with Bill 10. Until the changes incurred by Bill 10 (Bill 10 & Guidelines Fact Sheet) that stripped parental rights and school autonomy in the Education Act are amended to return parents to their rightful position as the primary decision makers with regards to the kind of education that shall be given to their children, Alberta students will not be protected in schools. It must be made law (with exceptions for truly endangered children; which already exist) that parents be informed of the needs of their children in schools across Alberta at every level (funding, counselling, curricular and extra-curricular).
No matter how far Minister Eggen walks back the guidelines, the government can and will introduce even more dangerous mandates on schools (Comprehensive Sex Ed) and if parents do not have the right to be engaged, informed and opt-in to curricula, activities and clubs in schools there will be little any parent can do to ensure their children are protected.
This work has just begun.
Bill 10 and Education Guidelines with translations: HERE
Informed Albertans Blog on CBE Policies and how parents can respond: https://informedalbertans.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/important-news-calgary-board-of-education/