R: Thanks to all of our fine constituents who offered their invaluable input at this event; please keep it coming!
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As an elected representative, Albertan parent, & entrepreneur/humanitarian/educator, I find the latest proposal from Public Interest Alberta (along with other NDP-friendly organizations)--to renew its call for an end to public funding of private & charter schools--to be threatening & self-serving. Their argument that private school students take away from public school students is fundamentally flawed--& if the proposal wasn’t so threatening, it would be laughable--it does the exact opposite of what they are hoping it will do! To withdraw public funding to private &/or charter schools in AB would actually place an additional funding strain on the public system, rather than enhancing it--since students attending these schools receive 70% of the funding that students in public schools receive (& none of the infrastructure funding!); & the remainder of the cost to run the school & provide students with a quality education is made up of tuition paid by parents. If funding for private schools was withdrawn, parents would be left to cover 100% of the cost; & during these turbulent economic times, many families would simply be unable to afford these increases. Instead, they would be forced to enroll their children in the public system, in which the gov’t pays 30% more per student; & the family’s freedom to send their children to the schools they love is stolen away! The result is removal of choice for students & parents, & less money for the public system--not more. Constituents across the province tell me that is not the AB way.
Healthy competition between public & private schools is in the best interest of our children; & the choices that are offered respect the diversity of backgrounds, needs, & interests of AB families. This gov’t would do well to respect that. In the past, AB built one of the best education systems in the world; & championing choice is in no way meant to disparage the quality of the public system. Having served as an educator & administrator at all levels for well over a decade, I support it; however, since I appreciate that we do not live in a “one-size fits all world”, I also fully support private, charter, & home-schooling options that provide specialized programming inc- special needs, languages, religions, athletics, & more. Removing the option for parents to choose from these programs for their child does not strengthen our education system—it weakens it!
This proposal flies in the face of our hard-won AB culture. AB has a long & proud tradition of offering parents & students a wide variety of educational choices; & we must ensure that we protect these choices for AB families! Last spring, my colleagues & I were proud to stand with our Progressive Conservative Interim Leader, Ric McIver, who received unanimous support from all parties for his motion which affirms the Legislature’s commitment to maintaining the choice in education that has been available to AB parents for decades. The support from all sides of the House is a testament to the importance of that choice, & of a parent’s right to educate their child as they see fit. It’s one of the cornerstones of our education system, & is an invaluable contributing factor as to why AB has been such a great place to raise a family. Our PC caucus is committed to holding this gov’t to the promise they made to AB families on maintaining choice in education; I just hope the NDP is up to the challenge—for the sake of our AB finances, as well as the hopes & dreams of AB’s leaders of tomorrow!