EDMONTON - The Alberta government has introduced its much-anticipated Choice in Education Act, which entrenches public subsidies of private schools in legislation and facilitates expansion of charter schools and home schooling. The changes represent a further fragmentation of the province’s delivery of education and come as funding cuts continue to devastate public schools, with growing class sizes and diminishing levels of classroom supports.
“This legislation is a great victory for private and wealthy interests, which clearly have a steadfast ally in this government,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Unfortunately, the hundreds of millions of dollars the government is committed to spending on subsidizing private schools comes at the expense of the more than 90% of Alberta families who send their children to public schools, where that funding is sorely needed.”
The government announcement repeatedly highlighted how the legislation strengthens the amount of ‘choice’ parents will have with regard to their children’s education.
“The question Albertans need to ask is who this ‘choice’ is designed for,” said French. “The reality is that most Alberta families choose Public, Catholic, or Francophone school systems that are accountable to publicly elected school boards and are open to all students. This legislation is about the government imposing an ideological market agenda that benefits a privileged few over the interests of everyone else.”
French emphasized the need for investment in public, Catholic, and francophone school systems to be the top priority for government.
“Class sizes in public schools continue to get larger and supports for children with complex needs are lacking more than ever, yet this government’s priority is to affirm its funding to private interests. It could not be clearer that this government’s ideology is trumping the interests of most Albertans, which would be building the strongest possible public education system that is open to everyone.”