As mentioned in a previous post, the government is current undertaking consultations related to the recently-passed education act. The new act establishes an overall framework, but some of the specifics of way the act applies will come through regulations. Regulations, unlike laws, do not need to pass the legislature and can simply be introduced by the government. However, they are just as binding on the practise of education in Alberta. New regulations will be introduced soon, after the government has completed consultations about them.
You have an opportunity to participate in these consultations by taking this survey: http://surveys.education.gov.ab.ca/novi/TakeSurveyPage.aspx?s=9ce3b3dcf92d4051ad3f20f426df0227&tsid=993c0a5abeb04b1bbef004d14c7e8c8d&c=en-US. Because the survey does not ask for your name, it is possible to complete the survey multiple times from different computers.
The survey as a whole is quite long and covers a variety of interesting issues. The good news, though, is that if you don’t have much time, you can only fill out certain sections of the survey which pertain to things which are most important to you. We would suggest that you fill out, in particular, the sections relevant to school choice. You may have a particular interest in one aspect of school choice, but we would encourage you to fill out all of the sections that deal with parental authority and school choice, in order to support the rights of other parents. This is one concrete way in which we as a school choice movement can work collaboratively.
Here are the school choice and parental authority related questions in the survey – key questions to answer and suggested responses. After answering each key question, you can click the main menu button in the bottom right to return to the main menu:
-Select the topic “Instruction in French or Any Other Language”. In the box, I’d suggest you write something that suggests the following – “School boards should be required to provide bilingual programs featuring English and a second language in cases where there is significant demand from parents.”
-If you select the topic “Student Transportation”, and go to the 4th page on that subject (page 19), you will find the following question: “Should boards be required to provide transportation for students who attend a school of choice instead of their designated neighbourhood school?” We would suggest you answer “Yes”, and provide some associated comments in the box below. This helps ensure that programs of choice are available to all families.
-Select the topic “Charter Schools” and go to page 24. Q62 asks if there should be a maximum number of charter schools. We would suggest selecting “strongly disagree”. Q63 asks a somewhat leading question about how enrollment caps should be set for charter schools. I would suggest responding that, “Charter schools should not have enrollment caps.” Q69 allows you to provide some further comments on charter schools. Our view is that charter schools should be able to exist and expand solely in response to parent demand, provided that they comply with the law.
-Select the topic “Home Education”. We are very disappointed by the leading question asked in this section. The question asks “In what measurable ways can the Minister account to Albertans for the achievement of students in home education programs?” We would suggestion selecting “other” in response to this question, and writing something to affect that “Parents are the primary decision makers with regard to education. The Minister should be accountable to parents, not parents to the Minister.”
-Select the topic “Private Schools”. Question 71 asks you to agree or disagree with the statement “Private schools demonstrate transparency and accountability to all Albertans.” We would suggest skipping the question, and writing in the box below, “Private schools should be transparent to all, but accountable to parents who send their children there.” Q73 asks if private schools prepare students for post-secondary and the work force. We would suggest selecting ‘Agree’.
-Select the topic “Submit Completed Survey”. This provides you with a box to enter final comments. We would suggest that you use this opportunity to write a quick note emphasizing the importance of parental authority and school choice.
This is a very simple and concrete way in which you can help move the cause of parental authority and school choice forward here in Alberta.