Unprecedented declaration by Minister of Education raises questions that deserve answers

Newsflash for Albertans:

Effective August 16th, 2016, policy decisions made by democratically elected school boards can be unilaterally usurped by a Minister of Education Facebook note.

In what has been labeled as “unprecedented”, Alberta’s Education Minister published the following open letter to Alberta’s students through his Facebook page earlier this week:

Eggen Open Letter to students01

Eggen Open Letter to students02

This open letter raises questions of critical importance to all Albertans.

Consider the following:

  1. Minister Eggen does not have the authority to simply declare to all students in Alberta “You have the right to use the washroom that is consistent with your gender identity.”

Let’s rewind to January 2016.  Alberta Education released the Guidelines document which ignited controversy across the province.

In March, Minister Eggen wrote letters to respond to the concerns voiced by tens of thousands Albertans who had contacted his office, assuring them that the Guidelines document was a “resource” and “not legally binding.”

Furthermore, he acknowledged:

“each school community is unique and that school authorities are in the best position to create policies that will work for their students, staff and families. In addition to consulting the guidelines, school authorities are encouraged to engage with their communities as they seek to align their policies and procedures with legislation and with their own local context.”

Therefore, in the absence of provincial legislation regarding bathroom policies in schools, some school boards voted to implement new bathroom protocols as per the optional “best practices” of the Guidelines document, while others engaged with their communities and responded by not implementing specific bathroom policies.

This was all done in accordance to provincial legislation, democratic process and Minister Eggen’s guidance.

Which means Minister Eggen must now clarify the content of his open letter to students:

Is Minister Eggen lying to the students he claims to wholeheartedly support 100%, by promising “rights” to them that he does not actually have the authority to provide?

Or is he lying to Albertans and creating a farce out of our province’s democratically elected school boards, who apparently no longer have authentic autonomy to withstand his arbitrary Facebook edicts?

Albertans deserve an answer.

But wait – there’s more.

2. According to the Calgary Herald article about this open letter, “Eggen added the province will also fund special training and development for teachers and staff at schools, provided through a $200,000 provincewide grant.”

It is shockingly generous of the province to pledge a new grant of almost a quarter of a million dollars at a time when our province’s economy is tanking and other vulnerable populations of students have suffered recent cutbacks.

For example, according to a June 29th Medicine Hat News article, upcoming budget cuts of over $400 000 will “severely weaken special needs supports” when it comes to hiring specialists and providing support services “for students who may have complex communication needs, visual impairments, be deaf or hard of hearing, require physiotherapy, or need mental health support”.

Superintendent of Prairie Rose School Division, Brian Andjelic, warns that “if we cut this back even further it is going to put some of those most at-risk students more at risk,” adding that his board of trustees has communicated their concerns to the Minister of Education.

Surely Minister Eggen realizes that students are at-risk across the province, for a multitude of reasons?

Why is it that one specific vulnerable population of students is worthy of generous financial provisions and a special direct government support line, while other vulnerable populations are simultaneously suffering from cutbacks to their support?

Albertans deserve an answer.

Which brings me to one final concern for today.

3. Who will be the experts employed by the $200 000 of provincial grant money for teacher training and professional development?

Almost every article describing Minister Eggen’s Facebook letter also includes references to Dr. Kristopher Wells continuing to loudly assert his own opinions through the mainstream media.  As I wrote in my last article before summer break, all Albertans should be aware of Wells’ remarkable scope of influence on these issues.

Wells’ comments on Wednesday to the Calgary Herald regarding the open letter reveal his clear preference for systems of government that “impose” policy upon citizens.

The Herald notes that Wells is “asking the province to go one step further, making all gender diversity policies public and taking action against those who are not meeting guidelines” and that if “some policies are ‘still a patchwork’, the minister should impose a clear, across the board policy.” (emphasis added)

Minister Eggen’s announcement of $200 000 will go a long way to ensuring some people in our province will have a busy schedule of presentations and workshops to offer.

And it’s worth noting that there are few people in Alberta as qualified and eager as Wells to provide such training and professional development to schools across the province.

I would hope that school boards and administrators are wise when they make decisions of how to spend the $200 000 worth of professional development grant money and consider selecting people who do not vocally advocate for disempowering their authority and governing schools through imposed provincial government edicts that circumvent democratic process.

When it comes to questions of who will be employed by this generous provision of taxpayer funds, Albertans deserve an answer.

As is obvious from Minister Eggen’s open letter, these issues being foisted upon Alberta’s schools will not be going away anytime soon.

In fact, the open letter concluded with a promise that “In the coming weeks, Alberta Education will be promoting new resources to make sure that schools are safe and welcoming.”

And in this respect we ought to learn an important lesson from Dr. Wells’ example.

If Albertans expect to see the change that he has so successfully helped to influence over the past many years, then we need to commit to being just as vocal and persistent.

He won’t stop advocating about the issues that are important to him.

And neither should you.

Donna Trimble, Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education (PCE), penned an open letter reply to Minister Eggen and has promised upcoming advocacy strategies to harness the collective voice of Albertans across the province.

It is also essential that we continue to encourage family, friends, coworkers and neighbours to become properly informed and engaged on these important issues.

We must continue to advocate on behalf of children, families, democratic freedoms and a respect for all human rights, ensuring that all students in Alberta schools experience a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment as they return to school in the upcoming weeks.

Subscribe to PCE’s Facebook page or their website newsletter for ongoing updates on how you can continue making your voice heard and refer to the “How to Respond” tab of this website to find the contact information of Minister Eggen, your MLA and school board trustees.

Demand the answers that you deserve from elected officials who are hired to represent you.

Your voice matters.

 

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9 comments

  1. alhiebert

    Two recommendations:
    1. Parents who care about these matters need to get elected to their local school boards asap (get 10 like-minded friends who commit to each recruiting 10 like-minded friends to call on every voter in your riding to support your election and tell them why).
    2. Empower your own kids re their characters, including their views on bullying and sex. Use a new kind of resource to help; see http://www.growingupinchrist.com. Parents are primarily responsible for their kids education, especially morally. Don’t let leftist politicians and educators replace you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ron Voss

    Indeed Theresa this is unprecedented. By this putsch he has dictatorially usurped the democratic process and the rights of school boards and parents! Someone at another forum described how he brought the following to Mr. Eggen’s attention: “One of the first things the Nazi government did was to alienate children from their parents and teach them that their parents could not be trusted and did not know what was best for them. The Nazi’s then taught the children give up their parents and families to the Gestapo if they did not do or for that matter did not think like the Nazi’s wanted. They drove a wedge of bitterness and anger between them and their parents, and In this letter, and in fact your whole approach to the transgender, gay situation has been and as reiterated in your open letter above is exactly what the Nazi’s did. I hope you will listen to Alberta people and stand down”. Unfortunately, Eggen is not likely to listen. As a socialist, the idea that children ‘belong’ primarily to the state is part of Eggen’s mindset. He uses the same playbook used by totalitarians through the ages, minimizing as much as possible any potentially contradictory educational influences, particularly the influence of parents. As you point out, “This open letter raises questions of critical importance to all Albertans”, but, also, to what, if any, opposition party there is in Alberta. Eggen won’t stand down unless there is substantial push back. You are correct that there is no legislative basis for him to declare to all students in Alberta, “You have the right to use the washroom that is consistent with your gender identity”. The opposition parties should take him to task for his undemocratic action. Why do we need a legislature if Eggen as Education Minister can simply make laws by fiat?
    You are right in that it is outrageous to lay out such a large sum for teacher and staff ‘training’ given the tough economic times when resources are scarce. Presumably the ‘training’ will be patterned off of that being provided to a North Carolina school, which is introducing the new and improved sequel to the Genderbread Person, the Gender Unicorn to teach gender fluidity, etc:
    http://www.wnd.com/2016/08/schools-push-disturbing-gender-unicorn-on-your-kids/
    The Benham brothers have produced a video onthe implications of the “gender unicorn” for children: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=benham+brothers+gender+unicirn
    Another commentary by Dr. Brown:
    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=benham+brothers+gender+unicirn

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ron Voss

    alhiebert, very good point, “Parents who care about these matters need to get elected to their local school boards asap”. Often school board elections receive very little attention and poor voter turnout when they are very important, possibly as much or more than other constituencies, because the schools shape the culture. Seeing some of the school boards rolling over to comply with Eggen’s heavy-handed edicts should affirm to parents the importance of school board elections.

    Like

  4. Ruth Maria Adria

    The Minister’s letter imposes protocol that is unacceptable and even offensive to most Alberta School children and their parents. His protocol has no basis in legislation & is found only in the mind of the Minister. His guidelines intentionally discriminate thus creating a disparate impact.

    Like

  5. Jonathan Alston

    Thank you bringing this matter to my attention! I will be writing Minister Eggen and my MLA right to let them know that I am in full support of them and in absolute disagreement with you and your group!.

    Like

  6. Ron Voss

    At its 2014 AGM the Wildrose Party added the following to its Constitution: “Wildrose will defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons.” As to what those “fundamental rights and freedoms” are let’s go to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Noteworthy that the Charter begins with “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”. Note that “Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God”. Section 2 of the Charter lists the “fundamental freedoms” that “everyone has” beginning first with “freedom of conscience and religion”, and, as well, “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression”, “freedom of peaceful assembly” and “freedom of association”.
    In his August 16th “Open Letter to Alberta’s Students”, Education minister Eggen assured the students, “You have the right to use the washroom that is consistent with your gender identity”. The “right”? Nothing more than Eggen establishing that so-called ‘right’ simply by ministerial fiat, his word. What’s worse that one-size-fits-all ‘right’ is at odds with and an attack on the fundamental rights of freedom of religion and freedom of belief. As well, according to section 15. (1) under Equality Rights of the Charter, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability”. Noteworthy, is the absence of any reference to “gender identity” or “gender expression” as fundamental rights. History has revealed countless times that the loss of political freedom leading to the rise of totalitarian states is correlated with a loss of religious freedom.

    Like

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