“What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires.
In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combatted; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate.”
~ J. Gresham Machen
Think about it:
– 15 000+ emails and letters sent to MLAs across the province over the past few months, voicing concern and opposition to Bill 10 and the Guidelines document.
– 4800 signatures submitted on a petition to the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) to force a public meeting regarding their controversial sexual orientation and gender identity policies.
And yet, despite this tremendous amount of concern and opposition, the government still forged ahead with their requirement of policies by March 31st, and the Calgary Board of Education had the audacity to dismiss the petition as “insufficient”.
Add to that the shocking events last week in the Legislature when MLA Ric McIver, interim leader of the PC party, had the courage to put forward a motion to affirm parental rights and choice in education and ended up being removed from the Legislative Assembly. For further information on that rapid escalation of events and how it demonstrates a troubling subversion of democratic process, please visit my “Articles & Links” page.
Significantly, all these examples point to the same underlying, fundamental issue at stake:
Who has authority over children and their education in Alberta?
The government? Or parents?
We know a child’s success is strengthened when parental involvement is supported and encouraged.
We know that Alberta’s Education Act (sec 32) states: “A parent has the prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be provided to the parent’s child, and as a partner in education, has the responsibility to act as the primary guide and decision-maker with respect to the child’s education”
So why does legislation from the Alberta government, along with policies of certain school boards, aim to weaken and undermine the important role of parents as a “primary guide and decision maker” in their child’s education?
Bill 10 and Alberta Education’s Guidelines for “best practices” go far beyond bathrooms, anti-bullying, safe and caring schools and accommodations for some vulnerable students.
Basic freedoms are being ignored and other rights disrespected to push “culture change”, change that disregards the health and safety of our young, impressionable Alberta children.
A few weeks ago I spoke with a woman who works with NGOs at the United Nations level and asked her: What is the most important action that regular citizens can do to influence change?
Tens of thousands of concerned Albertans have already “shown up” through writing emails/letters, making phone calls, tweeting, signing petitions, clicking “going” to show support of online open letters and attending dozens of information meetings across the province.
In fact, I know hundreds of parents and community members across Alberta who have communicated with elected officials (trustees and MLAs) who they barely knew existed before. That increased awareness and democratic participation should be applauded. But, unfortunately, it has not been enough.
So, we are asking Albertans to step up the advocacy efforts another notch.
We need our collective voice to be louder. We need our presence to be more public.
On May 14th at 2 p.m. Parents for Choice in Education is inviting concerned Albertans from across the province to join with them at the Alberta Legislature (Edmonton) or the McDougall Centre (Calgary) for a Peaceful Rally, to demonstrate that upholding parental rights in education is important to many Albertans.
As I have written previously, Albertans must remember that democratic rights and freedoms are like muscles. They atrophy when not exercised. Our freedom to raise our families as we best see fit is in peril when schools intentionally withhold information from parents and politicians manipulate our education system to impose a specific ideology on everyone.
Apparently some MLAs and school board trustees need a reminder of who is supposed to be in charge in a democracy, especially when it comes to the care and protection of our own children within Alberta’s publicly funded education system. Elected officials are hired by Albertans to represent our concerns. Our taxes pay their salaries. In a democracy, let’s not forget our roles.
Please continue to flood the phone lines and email accounts of school board trustees, MLAs, the Minister of Education and Premier Notley.
Continue to send messages of appreciation to MLA Ric McIver and MLA Mark Smith who demonstrated courageous leadership in advocating for parental rights and choice in education this past week. Perhaps if they sense enough public support is behind them, it will embolden their political will to hold the government accountable on behalf of concerned Albertans.
And please consider attending the rally on May 14th at 2 p.m. The more people who show up, the louder our public presence and our collective voice.
Parents for Choice in Education has compiled a Rally Information Package to help Albertans learn more about the concerns with Bill 10 and the Guidelines. The Information Package link can be emailed, or the resources can be downloaded and printed, in order to share this important information with friends, neighbours and coworkers.
We urge all Albertans to be informed and to consider the fundamental question at stake:
Who do you think should parent your child? The government?
The strength of our families and the well-being of our children are far too valuable to be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Too much is at stake if we allow elected officials to play politics with our children and make mockery of democratic process.
Your voice and your presence matter, now more than ever.
Let us heed the urgent advice of J. Gresham Machen in the quote that began this blog post – let us speak up and show up now, before it is too late.