Attack on independent schools inaccurate and unfair
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