Bill 24 court action discontinued
On September 20th, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) announced that the constitutional challenge to Bill 24 was discontinued because the primary sections of law being challenged no longer exist after the shift in Alberta's education legislation from the School Act to the Education Act.
As noted in the JCCF announcement:
On July 5, 2019, the Alberta Legislature passed Bill 8, which replaced the School Act with the Education Act, effective September 1, 2019. Bill 8 thereby also effectively repealed the secrecy provisions of Bill 24, which were part of the School Act but not part of the Education Act. The Justice Centre officially discontinued the court challenge on September 12, 2019.
In 2018, equipped with the pro-bono legal services offered by the Justice Centre, dozens of schools and individual parents from various faiths, including Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and other Christian denominations, challenged Bill 24 for violating both religious freedom and parental rights, as protected by the Charter. This court application asked the court to strike down provisions of Bill 24 on the basis that they violated the rights of parents and schools protected by sections 2(a), 2(b), 2(d) and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Bill of Rights.
The primary objection of parents and schools was to principals and teachers being prohibited from notifying parents about children’s involvement in student organizations, including GSAs and related “activities.” For example, under Bill 24 it was illegal to inform parents about the sexual or political contents of materials that children would be exposed to at GSA meetings, and illegal to inform parents about which persons or organizations would have access to their children at GSA meetings and activities. Bill 24 restricted information from parents about children as young as five years of age, as well as children with disabilities or other vulnerabilities. [READ MORE]
PCE thanks JCCF for their service in representing the dozens of schools and individual parents who joined this court action.
PCE also commends the courage of each Alberta family and school who bravely stood their ground on behalf of families and freedom in Alberta, even as they endured tremendous uncertainty and unrest in the face of Alberta Education's ongoing, aggressive threats to remove their school's funding and/or accreditation.
Unfortunately, the majority of schools in Alberta succumbed to the coercion of the then-NDP government to strip parental rights, ensuring enforced secrecy clauses were included in their policies as required by the NDP's passage of Bill 24 in November 2017.
As a result, most schools in Alberta still have enforced secrecy clauses in their policies, though provincial law no longer requires them to be included.
PCE is in the midst of compiling an easy-to-use online resource to support parents in being able to easily access and understand the "Safe and Caring" policies in their schools across the province.
We will e-mail this resource to everyone on our list once it is ready and encourage anyone not yet signed up to our email list to visit our homepage to sign up and stay up-to-date.
It is incumbent upon parents to understand the policies which govern the schools where their children attend, in order to discern what information may be withheld from them by school staff.
New funding report released
PCE is excited to announce that our organization and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) have commissioned a new funding report, co-authored by policy analyst Mark Milke and CTF's Paige MacPherson, showing how education choice supports student success and saved Alberta taxpayers $1.9 billion over eight years money.
This report expands upon PCE's funding report from 2015, providing updated numbers and including analysis of savings related to home education as well as independent schools.
To access the media release and full report, click on the title or picture below.
There were concerns highlighted in the media this past month related to the changing of school division names as a result of the Education Act coming into force and replacing the former School Act.
For an understanding of why these changes were made and how they actually impact school boards, it is helpful to read a note shared by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on her Facebook page, which includes the following excerpts:
"To insinuate that these changes are an attack on public education is simply an attempt to cause unnecessary fear and stress in Alberta’s education system. I can assure all Albertans that our government fully supports the longstanding and successful tradition of pluralism in Alberta’s education system – including strong and viable public schools."
"The previous system under the old School Act allowed for unequal treatment of school divisions. Previously there was a patchwork of different types of school divisions with different powers. With the Education Act, we are creating a level playing field."
"Before the new Education Act, regional divisions required ward and trustee representation from each of the initial entities that formed the regional division when regionalization occurred 25 years ago. Compare this to a non-regional school division that could easily amend trustee representation and ward boundaries to better reflect local circumstances without limitations. The changes we have brought forward by proclaiming the Education Act provides all school boards with this flexibility, and eliminates the red tape that was associated with regional division electoral boundaries." [READ MORE]
CBC Radio interview: Education choice supports students
Thank you to CBC Calgary Eyeopener for inviting Donna Trimble, Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education, to do an interview highlighting the benefits of school choice earlier this month.
Critics of education choice seem to suggest that expanding choice means eroding a strong public education system.
However, as Donna shares in the interview, a strong public education system is one that meets the needs of ALL children. And the best way to meet the needs of all children is to offer a diversity of choices.
You can listen to the full interview by clicking here or on the picture below.
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 support PCE's ongoing work, please consider donating by cheque or online. Thank you to each person who helps make this important work possible!