THREATENED: Authentic Educational Choice in Alberta
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Authentic educational choice exists in Alberta because families have the freedom to choose the educational settings that best meet the needs of their children.
However, today that freedom of choice is under direct attack in Alberta.
Dr. David Swann, leader of the Liberal party, has suggested the government should consider withdrawing funding, removing charters or dissolving boards that refuse to implement the sexual orientation and gender identity Guidelines provided by Alberta Education.
Not only do his statements show a complete lack of regard for the Minister of Education’s clear assurances to Albertans in March that the Guidelines document was provided as a “resource” that was not “not legally binding”, but he also forgets that he does not fund the entire operation of Alberta’s education system.
Which means that the diversity of educational choices, funded either fully or partially through public dollars, reflect the diversity of Albertans who provide that funding through their tax dollars.
To suggest that only some educational choices are “valid” to receive public taxpayer funding demonstrates a shockingly discriminatory premise of inequality which declares that the needs and values of some people are worthy of inclusion in our publicly funded education system – and others are not.
This alarming premise undermines and fundamentally corrupts the functioning of a pluralistic, multicultural and free, democratic society.
And that is not progress.
Unfortunately, others are also actively advocating to undermine educational choices in Alberta.
For example, Dave Beninger started a petition today demanding that the Minister of Education cut funding to specific Christian private schools.
Dr. Kristopher Wells and Public Interest Alberta have resorted to a public smear campaign to undermine educational choice, in an apparent attempt to coerce faith-based school boards to conform to their bidding.
And last week the Minister of Education David Eggen made an unprecedented declaration over Facebook that undermined the authority of democratically elected school boards.
Frankly, it is irrelevant to this discussion which values you personally happen to agree with.
The fundamental question is not whether any one person believes a set of values to be right or wrong, but whether the government should be permitted to use public purse strings to enforce a "one size fits all" approach on all children and their families within our public, independent, home education, charter, and Catholic schools across the province.
Freedom of choice is meaningless if all "choices" are forced to be the same.
Please sign this petition to show that you:
a) support public funds toward a variety of educational options that will continue to serve the diverse needs of families across the province.
b) support the operation of secular and faith based schools to exist and operate according to their foundational beliefs, without coercion from government and special interest groups
To preserve authentic educational choice and meet the needs of all children and families in our multicultural, pluralistic province of Alberta we must advocate that our current model of public funding not be compromised.
And a special note to Dave Beninger and Kristopher Wells:
You have the freedom to disagree with how Pastor Brian Coldwell chooses to run his private Christian school and how certain school districts choose to write their policies.
But you know the great thing about Alberta?
You also have the freedom to make other choices. And if you don't like the options available at Pastor Brian Coldwell's school or any other schools, then feel free not to send your children there.
I invite Albertans to communicate your support for authentic educational choice by signing this petition. Remember that your voice matters. Not speaking up has a 100% success rate of accomplishing nothing.
Thank you for helping to preserve the diversity of educational choices in this province – for everyone.
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