At­tack on in­de­pen­dent schools in­ac­cu­rate and un­fair

Lethbridge Herald - - READER'S FORUM -

Pa­tri­cia and Tony Par­geter’s let­ter (Nov. 29) fires a broad­side against faith-based ed­u­ca­tion. These claims should not go un­chal­lenged.

In the first place, the Par­geters do not ac­knowl­edge the fi­nan­cial re­al­ity that in­de­pen­dent schools save Al­berta tax­pay­ers money. With­out go­ing into de­tail, when a school re­ceives only 70 per cent fund­ing and no cap­i­tal costs, it’s un­mis­tak­ably clear whether in­de­pen­dent schools or pub­lic schools are costlier to the tax­payer.

Sec­ondly, the let­ter high­lights the fact that sev­eral in­de­pen­dent schools are cur­rently run­ning afoul of the law in Al­berta, cour­tesy of the NDP gov­ern­ment’s Bill 24. Most Chris­tian schools base their safe and car­ing poli­cies on the so-called imago dei, or “im­age of God.” The be­lief that all hu­mans are cre­ated in God’s im­age means that we all have tran­scen­dent, in­trin­sic worth (lan­guage which Mr. Eggen deems “dis­re­spect­ful”). This should be a bul­wark against bul­ly­ing. In­ci­den­tally, ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment’s own ac­count­abil­ity sur­veys, most in­de­pen­dent schools outscore their pub­lic coun­ter­parts when it comes to be­ing safe and car­ing.

Fur­ther to this point, Minister Eggen’s at­tacks on these in­de­pen­dent schools vi­o­late their free­doms of re­li­gion and as­so­ci­a­tion. Be­sides the Char­ter, the Al­berta Bill of Rights high­lights “the right of par­ents to make in­formed de­ci­sions re­spect­ing the ed­u­ca­tion of their chil­dren.” This in­cludes the right to ed­u­cate chil­dren ac­cord­ing to their re­li­gious be­liefs. In this case, who is the real bully?

Third, rather than the church as­sum­ing control over the state, as the Par­geters fear, the op­po­site is hap­pen­ing. In to­day’s Al­berta, the state con­tin­ues to in­sert it­self into ar­eas in which it has no busi­ness. When Minister Eggen de­clares that his ver­sion of sex­u­al­ity alone shall rule in ev­ery school in Al­berta, he is tram­pling the rights of par­ents as pri­mary ed­u­ca­tors.

Not ev­ery­one in Al­berta is a Chris­tian. But nei­ther does ev­ery­one sub­scribe to Minister Eggen’s ideas about sex­u­al­ity and parental rights (or lack thereof) in ed­u­ca­tion. Let’s pre­serve au­then­tic school choice in Al­berta; that’s what is truly fair. Jonathan Van Schepen

Devon, Alta.

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