News View

January 17, 2012

The following are excerpts from newspapers throughout Alberta. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the ATA.

Bill 44 now government “worm can”

“The Alberta government in 2009 passed a controversial piece of legislation, known as Bill 44, which amended Alberta’s ­Human Rights Act. … To appease social conservatives in caucus, Ed Stelmach’s government added a rider to the legislation—a so-called ‘parental rights’ clause. The clause, known as 11.1, required school boards to give parents or guardians advance notice, in writing, any time students were about to study material dealing explicitly with religion, human sexuality, or sexual orientation. … But in the past two months, at least five parents from Morinville have registered formal complaints with the tribunal. And here’s the twist. … They’ve filed official complaints against the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division and the Alberta Ministry of Education. Morinville, you see, has no secular schools. … The irony is surreal. The Catholic Church was one of the fiercest proponents of parental rights legislation. Now, Catholic education and the right of Great St. Albert Catholic school board to run public schools is being challenged because of the law. … The provincial government opened this worm can when it put parental rights into the human rights act. Now, the human rights commission has a moral and legal obligation to follow the law, no matter where it leads.”
—Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal, January 12, 2012

Boards under scrutiny

“The new [education] minister [Thomas Lukaszuk] wants school boards to report their spending in much greater detail. He will publicize annual results for all boards so that parents can directly compare and see where their own board is wasting or saving money. … Like many Calgarians, I’ve watched [the Calgary Board of Education] drift gradually away from democratic principles and basic accountability. Before Christmas, the cosy inner circle tried to ban public input at formal board meetings, and even stop elected trustees from making motions. Public pressure forced a backup, but the ideas are still being considered. This nonsense happens in the shiny, new building on 8th Street S.W. that will cost the CBE $285 million in rent over 20 years, while another $30 million goes to improving the adjacent building that houses trustees. … Lukaszuk doesn’t single out Calgary’s board (Why bother, when so many are happy to help?), but he promises that parents across Alberta will be able ‘to decide whether they like where the money is going.’ As one taxpayer who drives past that CBE palace nearly every day, I can’t wait.”
—Don Braid, Calgary Herald, January 11, 2012