From exposing government secrecy, defending home education and criticizing the imposition of the purple unicorn perspective on students, thank you to these three politicians who helped focus public attention on important educational issues over the past few weeks.
1. Jason Kenney, Candidate for Leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative (PC) party
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Jason Kenney for an hour last week and was impressed by his willingness to respond meaningfully to the issues I presented and demonstrate genuine understanding of the concerns being voiced by so many Albertans.
He also deserves accolades for being the only Alberta politician with the courage to speak out against the imposition of the purple unicorn perspective as the only correct view on sexuality/gender in school. If you haven’t heard the news yet about the polarizing PRISM resource that is being sent to all Alberta schools, please read my last blog article or listen to some of the interviews I did on radio and television in early November.
Jason Kenney responded to the survey which was provided by Parents for Choice in Education to all PC Leadership candidates. His answers (read them here) indicated a thoughtful, balanced approach with strong support of choice, freedom and parental rights in education.
Thank you Jason Kenney for taking a clear stand on educational issues that matter to so many Albertans!
2. Mark Smith, Wildrose Education Critic
Accolades to Mark Smith for drawing public attention to the fact that the Minister of Education is purposely concealing the identity of the expert working group members involved in the most ambitious curriculum overhaul in our province’s history.
Mark Smith’s post on Facebook, which you can access by clicking the image below, included a video of his exchange with Education Minister David Eggen on this subject.
Concerns on this topic have also been voiced by the Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils (CAPSC), featured in a Metro article last week.
Kudos to Mark Smith and the CAPSC for publicly pressuring our government to be fully transparent and accountable. Taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent in this province, especially when it comes to knowing who is in charge of shaping the future direction of our publicly funded education system.
3. Brian Jean, Leader of Wildrose, Official Opposition
Thank you to Brian Jean for his rousing speech at the November 29th “Celebration of Home Schooling” rally at the Legislature in support of freedoms and parental choice in education, attended by over 650 people.
A portion of the speech was recorded and shared on Facebook, which can be accessed through clicking the image to the side.
Unfortunately this accolade is accompanied by some frustration, which I expressed in a Dec. 2nd email to Brian Jean (see below). I have yet to receive a reply to this message.
Dear Mr. Jean,
I was in the crowd at the Celebrate Home Education rally on Tuesday and appreciated your strong words of support for parental choice and home education.
However, I was also deeply disappointed.
I am a parent and a former public school teacher. I was also the MC at the rally that took place at that same location in front of the Legislature in May.
We had at least 2300 Albertans in attendance that day, alongside another 2000+ who gathered simultaneously in Calgary.
Yet remarkably not one MLA from any political party was in attendance at that event to support those parents and their concerns about how educational choice and freedom are being eroded and threatened for their families.
I am hopeful that perhaps these past six months have given you and other politicians more perspective than you may have had in May. Perhaps you and your colleagues are now finally beginning to better understand the scope of implications that recent changes to educational policies and legislation are having on the families of this province.
Do you truly care about representing parental choice and the concerns of all Albertans when it comes to the education of their children?
If so, there are over 25 000 Albertans who signed a petition asking for amendments to legislation which impacts all Alberta schools – and each of those people are still waiting for even one politician to speak out on their behalf.
While it is an admirable start to voice such strong support for parental choice when it comes to home education – which is of tremendous importance to many families in Alberta – I hope that you do not stop there.
I would hope that if you truly care about representing Albertan families and upholding parental choice and genuine freedom in this province that you would begin doing more to publicly represent all parents and children, including both the concerns of home educators, as well as the families who choose to send their children to brick and mortar schools.
Through my work over the past few months I have had the opportunity to personally hear from thousands of Albertans who are extremely concerned about educational issues. Many teachers, administrators, parents and children have expressed their concerns to me through in-person conversations, emails, phone calls, social media, comments on my blog Informed Albertans, as well as through a change.org petition I started in August which has been signed by over 3600 people so far.
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you in Edmonton in order to provide more insight into the full scope of the concerns that these families have voiced.
Also, on behalf of the 3600+ people who have signed my petition, I would like to personally drop off a printed copy of all the signatures and comments to you. I’m sure that each Albertan who signed the petition would appreciate an update to hear that their voices of concern have actually reached the ears of our elected representatives.
I look forward to hearing from you soon. Please reply within the next week regarding whether you will be able to arrange a day to meet together and discuss these important educational issues.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
I once heard a quote that has stuck with me: “Don’t expect politicians, even good ones, to do your job for you. Politicians are like weather vanes. Our job is to make the wind blow.”
The only way our politicians will ever consider taking a stand for our concerns is if we continue to voice those concerns loudly and persistently.
Here are some actions to consider for Albertans who support a thoughtful, balanced approach to educational issues, as well as a system that is more transparent, responsive and accountable to all stakeholders:
1. Sign up for a $10 Progressive Conservative membership to help guide the future direction of the PC party.
The PC party is at a massive crossroads and there is tremendous variation on how each potential leader will deal with educational issues if they are elected.
For example, while Jason Kenney has communicated his concern about purple unicorn ideology being imposed onto children in Alberta schools, another PC Leadership contender, Richard Starke, actually specifically expressed “support for the approach to gender and sexuality that is increasingly being implemented in schools, including the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s controversial PRISM toolkits.”
If you care about having a political party that will represent your concerns about the care and education of your children, please consider signing up to support Jason Kenney’s campaign to become the next leader of the PC party. So far he seems to be the only PC candidate that is taking a strong interest and public stand in addressing these critically important educational issues.
2. Send a note to Mark Smith (780.542.3355, email@example.com or Facebook comment) and encourage him to keep pressuring the Ministry of Education to reveal who is writing the new curriculum.
Also phone the Minister of Education’s office (780 427 5010) to share your expectation that these expert working group lists should be publicly accessible to all educational stakeholders, especially taxpayers and parents.
3. Contact Brian Jean (780.427.1031, firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask him to step up and address all critical education issues more directly and meaningfully.
It will never be easy to speak out about these issues. I know from firsthand experience how voicing even the most respectful and reasonable perspective earns a deluge of labels and disrespect from those who do not bother to look beyond the superficial rhetoric that obscures the true complexity of concerns.
A multitude of critical questions are still not being addressed when it comes to the care and education of our children in Alberta. Frankly, the freedom to parent our own children should not be a partisan issue – we must continue demanding meaningful solutions from all political parties.
If you are new to this issue and do not yet understand the dramatic changes that have taken place in our education system, please take the time to learn more about the concerns being voiced by tens of thousands of Albertans.
And please do not stop there. Invest time in being engaged and pressuring our elected representatives for changes that will address these concerns.
We need more politicians with a strong backbone who will not surrender our children, teachers and the integrity of our education system on the altar of political correctness.
And those politicians need us – ordinary Albertan citizens like you and me – to create sustained and engaged pressure by speaking out and continuing to demand that our concerns be addressed.