PCE Response to Minister Eggen's Facebook letter to Alberta children

Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) is sharing this open letter, written to Minister Eggen in response to his own open letter on Facebook to Alberta children dated August 16, 2016.

We encourage all Albertans to make their voices heard on this issue by contacting Minister Eggen directly (780 427 5010, [email protected]), as well as your local MLAs and school board trustees. 

Please cc. Parents for Choice in Education so we can keep a record of your email communications with Minister Eggen and your MLAs and School Board Trustees, and may hand deliver them a second time on your behalf: [email protected]

All schools have not integrated the guidelines mentioned by Minister Eggen in his open letter, so contact your local school and ask for clarification directly from your principal.

If you are uncomfortable we suggest you pull your children and place your children in a school setting that respects your primary role as educator and caregiver to your child. If your school is satisfying your expectations support and thank them.

A column- 'Alberta Education Minister David Eggen's direct appeal to children on Gay-Straight Alliances is troubling'- has also been printed in the Calgary Sun, August 23, 2016, authored by Donna Trimble, Executive Director of PCE. Informed Albertans has also released an excellent article- 'Unprecedented Declaration' - on this open letter.

Dear Education Minister Eggen,

This is an open letter that will be shared in the public sphere.

As you know Parents for Choice in Education holds no position on school board policy in and of itself, except to state that school and school board policies must meet with the support and approval of parents. No policy should circumvent the primary care or educational choice that is the right of every parent.

Parents for Choice in Education is yet to garner a promised follow-up meeting. In the meantime you have penned an open letter on Facebook to children in Alberta in apparent disregard of parental concerns.

In your letter you appear to allow children to make the assumption that all school board policies have complied with certain aspects of the Education Guidelines (which you have stated publicly are not mandatory). In fact, there are schools that have not integrated these guidelines into their school board policies.

“You have the right to use the washroom that is consistent with your gender identity. I want you to know that I will support each and every one of you. Together, we will make sure that the rights you have, and the policies your school boards have worked on, are being lived out in your schools.”

You go further, and appear to coach students on how to bypass parents and schools with their concerns if these ‘rights’ (which you have publicly stated are optional school board policies) are not met.

“You can also reach out directly to my staff, who can help you ensure your rights are being respected, at [email protected].”

We have to wonder, as a parent choice organisation, if this ‘open letter’ is a veiled attempt to coerce non-compliant schools into implementing guidelines which you have stated publicly are optional, and not mandatory.

To use the very vulnerable children the Ministry claims to be protecting, without mention of the role of parents, to strong arm schools is unacceptable, if that was the intention. If this is not your intention then we expect clarification as this is the very activity that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Article 26 which states that parents have the prior right to chose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, was designed to prevent.

It is essential you clarify your motivations and the expectations you have of school boards going forward. It is essential you welcome parents back into the conversation.

A child alienated from parents is not in a safe space, nor would such a child feel welcome or cared for.

Genuinely endangered children are already protected under law by outreach to outside interventions such as social services and the courts. There is no valid reason for having children communicate directly with government.

We ask that you revoke this ‘open letter’ and sit down with Parents for Choice in Education so we can work together to ensure every child, especially those most vulnerable, are cared for at the local level, with the full involvement of parents, and the support of their local schools and communities.

We will continue to stand with the 25,000+ Albertans who signed the PCE petition in support of parental rights in education and the more than 4000 who attended the May, 2016 rallies to Protect Alberta Children, by upholding parental rights. We will stand against any agenda that would sever a child’s relationship with their greatest support systems: their parents, schools and communities.

We look forward to meeting with you in the near future.

Donna Trimble
Executive Director
Parents for Choice in Education
cc., Theresa Ng-Informed Albertans, WR Leader Brian Jean, PC Leader Ric McIver, Jeremy Nolais-Chief of Staff for the Minister of Education, Raeanne Peers (office scheduling assistant), Premier Rachel Notley, WR MLA Education Critic Mark Smith

PDF Sun Column: Eggen's direct appeal to children on GSAs troubling