Parents across the continent have been more vocal than ever about concerns around their children’s education. South of the border, it seems like every week brings a new victory for school choice or even recall of arrogant school officials. Public pressure works – it forces public officials to respond or face the consequences.
Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) is proud to have been a leader of this movement for the past ten years. Our website is chock full of resources. “Be Informed” contains valuable information on everything from the facts on education funding, laws on parental consent, curriculum development and more! The "Take Action" section has tips on how to contact your local representative and take action in politics, as well as our eye-opening “Parental Consent is Key” petition that every Albertan should sign.
The UCP Leadership Race
The biggest recent news in Alberta was the resignation of Premier Jason Kenney, and the current race to replace him.
On August 4th, we will be conducting a forum on education for our members at 6 PM, online. This will be just after the cut-off for candidates to be officially added to the ballot, and before the cut-off for membership sales. Please save the date! We will be sending out a notice with details of how to watch and participate.
We will be asking candidates for their plans relevant to the three pillars of education reform: funding, curriculum, and above all parental choice.
Alberta has made moves to improve parental choice, thanks in no small part to the fact that the Premier and Minister of Education are being informed of parents’ concerns by advocacy groups such as PCE and the Alberta Home Education Association. For instance, in early May, Minister LaGrange’s office announced some specialized supports and services available to home educators – including those in rural areas. The Learner Support program will be run by the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta. For the parents for whom these services were unavailable unless they put their children in public schools, this is a welcome development.
Regular readers will be aware that PCE is concerned about the impact of Alberta’s new Weighted Moving Average (WMA) funding model on growing schools. While we are still doing research on this topic, we have been able to get some movement on this file.
The newest funding manual for the province includes the stub of a grant (still to be developed) for jurisdictions that grow more than 5%. While previous funding manuals included a vague promise to help, in practice schools were not able to rely on funding for growth. By setting these up as grants (at C 5.3 and D 5.2), the government is adding specificity and accountability. This is expected to be specific enough that fast growing independent schools will be able to rely upon it for bridge funding. This change – specifically requested by PCE in meetings with the Minister – should ensure that independent schools will be able to hire the teachers needed to support growth.
Unfortunately, this new grant only works for jurisdictions growing by more than 5%. The large Public and Catholic boards of Calgary and Edmonton are growing, but not enough to trigger this threshold. This means that those systems will not get the same per-student funding as smaller jurisdictions. The economies of scale available to these large systems should allow them to do more with less funding, by avoiding waste. However, we would hate to find that these jurisdictions are forced to curtail their many excellent programs that allow educational choice within the system, such as home education, International Baccalaureate, and Logos.
In the Community
In May, PCE’s Executive Director John Hilton-O’Brien was invited to the national stage. The Canada Strong and Free Network convention in Ottawa sponsored a panel on Education Reform, including Deani van Pelt and Katherine Birbalsingh, chaired by Tanya Granic Allen of the News Forum. John addressed the three pillars of education reform – funding, curriculum, and parental choice– for a crowd of over a hundred people.
As the Covid restrictions have waned, we have been able to start doing community events. PCE's Executive Director, John, was recently invited to address a group in Alberta’s central region on the subject of how wokeism has taken over our schools – and what we can do about it. He discussed advocacy at the personal (or micro) level, the political (or macro) level, and the realm of ideas and public discourse (the exo level). It was a very lively group, interested in setting its own course. We wish them every success!
This group is not alone. We also had the pleasure of being contacted by a pair of strong Calgary-area mothers who were advocating for their children. They told us they began paying attention to their schools because of Covid mandates, and didn’t like what they saw. They realized that their ability to exercise parental choice in their children’s education had been undermined without them even knowing about it. We were honoured to advise and encourage them. Because they reached out to us, we were able to shed light on the situation they had uncovered by using it as a foundation for an educational article.
Organizations like PCE exist partly as a repository of knowledge and skills. When people need to get something done, we can help. Our help can be as hands on as training people for advocacy or political campaigns, or we can simply use our platform to draw attention to an issue you are highlighting. We can tailor our talks to the needs and interests of your group.
If you are part of a group of people that is thinking of taking the next step to make sure parental choice is upheld in your local schools, you can reach out to us. We will be more than happy to help, advise, and train. Please send an email to [email protected]
For Your Interest
There are three new informational articles on the PCE website.
The first, "Reckless Consent," written for PCE by Martin Tampier, is an examination of how radical sex education makes children more vulnerable.
The savvy mothers mentioned in the previous brought us a story about how a local school recently ran a workshop on sexual consent – and failed to effectively ask parental consent for it. The results are encapsulated in “Consent for Children, but Not for Parents? " Readers of the article will find that even though sex education in Alberta is supposed to require parental consent, this requirement is sometimes honoured in the breach rather than the observance.
"The Basics of Critical Theory," our third piece, examines an underlying idea that is used in our classrooms. Its purpose is to help you understand the idea of critical theory on its own merit – and more importantly how it is twisted and abused in our classrooms.
News Articles of Note
A variety of other interesting news items have come up in the past weeks. We are including a sample here. If you are on Facebook or Telegram, you can subscribe to our feed to see such articles as they come in. Here are some samples:
Some public school advocates aren’t content to explain why public education is good. Instead, they attack Independent and Charter schools, claiming that having such choices available “takes money away from public education.” Along with many others, PCE discredited this erroneous idea here a few years ago, but the false narrative continues to be promoted. Here’s a current article (albeit American) debunking that line of thinking.
This article addresses some of the similarly aggressive misinformation that has recently been directed at Alberta’s Charter schools. It explains that they simply offer educational choice and do not harm other educational options.
There is a wide range of reactions amongst Alberta teachers striving to prepare for the launch of the new curriculum. We are glad to see that the Government has offered some support for teachers and boards learning the new material.
The Alberta School Council is doing a survey on education and the impact of Covid-19. It is probably worth contributing to.
This honest and vulnerable article was written anonymously by a same-sex-attracted teacher who discovered that he was out of his depth when he tried to run an LGBTQ club at school.
Summer Reading Recommendations
Here are some websites, interviews and articles that are worth looking at during the summer months.
"Our children deserve education, not indoctrination" (interview)
"A new Canadian database connecting parents directly to educators and more, to facilitate learning in innovative ways" (website)
"How to parent with Patience": Tips from a certified brain and child development specialist from Alberta
"A research-based guide on supporting gender non-conforming and trans-identified students" (pdf download)
- Remember to save the date for the Education Leadership Forum on August 4th.
- PCE is planning to run School Resource Fairs in a selection of the major cities of Alberta. You can help! If you are interested, we are breaking down the tasks needed into bite-sized jobs for volunteers just like you.
- If you are part of an organization, or a political candidate, you can invite our Executive Director to give a presentation. While we will not endorse a political candidate, we can nonetheless speak about education issues, and a candidate can explain how she or he would address them. We can also inform all of our subscribers in the area of your event– and we have over 12,000 across Alberta. (We do not charge a speaker’s fee, but we do ask that expenses are covered).
- As always, please forward our newsletters to friends and family. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising.
- If our articles are beneficial and you appreciate the importance of PCE’s advocacy, please consider supporting us more directly. For the price of a cup of coffee a week, you can have a real impact on government education policy! Just head over to our website, at https://www.parentchoice.ca/donate.
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!