After an almost year-long hiatus, Alberta Education is moving to finalize regulations to support implementation of the Education Act. Albertans are invited to review the draft regulations and submit their comments online.
Alberta’s new Education Act was passed in the legislature and received royal assent on Dec. 10, 2012. In the spring of 2013 the Alberta government launched its Regulatory Review Project to develop the regulations needed to operationalize the new legislation when it comes into effect in September 2015. In many cases, the actual operation of aspects of the education system are set out in the regulations rather than in the legislation itself.
More than 30 regulations were initially subject to review to ensure that they aligned with the Education Act and with the general policy direction set out by Inspiring Education. Seeking public and stakeholder input into the process, the review undertook an online survey, established external working groups and hosted broad face-to-face consultations.
The Association encouraged individual and local member participation in the online survey and in the face-to-face meetings. As well, the Association’s associate executive secretary participated in numerous meetings of various external working groups convened to consider regulations relating to charter schools, delivery of specialized supports and services, early childhood services, home education, private schools, school councils, school fees, student evaluation and student records.
The initiative, however, seemed to have fallen by the wayside by the end of 2013, and the department’s self-imposed objective of having regulations in place by September 2014 was not achieved. Nor did promised and planned consultations with stakeholders on draft regulations take place as scheduled.
In mid-December 2014, however, the department published the following 16 draft regulations and approached stakeholder groups to submit their input by Jan. 31, 2015:
Alberta School Foundation Fund
disposition of property
early childhood services
establishment of school districts
petitions and public notices
special school tax levy
Currently, Association staff are reviewing the text of the draft regulations.
After an initial perusal, it appears the proposed draft regulations, while not necessarily aligned with Association policy objectives, do not pose a serious threat to core teacher interests. For the most part they are enabling and are consistent with general policy approaches that reflect a rightward shift in government policy and a desire to reduce government direction (e.g. maintaining a "home-schooler" friendly regulatory environment and removing caps on the number of charter schools while reducing charter school oversight and introducing de facto permanent charters).
One development that the Association views positively is that the draft Alberta School Foundation Fund and the draft Early Childhood Education Regulation would set a standard minimum age for entry into kindergarten (five years of age as of Dec. 31 of the respective school year) and Grade 1. Funding for students in grades 1 through 12 would also be provided for those who, on Sept. 1, are between the ages of five years-six months and 22.
It should be noted that, in accordance with the framework agreement enacted in the Assurance for Students Act (2013), there are no regulations proposed or changes to regulations that would directly affect teachers' working conditions.
The regulations are now available for public comment – by education stakeholders, parents, educators and the general public – until Jan. 31, 2015.
Information about the regulations, the regulations themselves and a mechanism to provide feedback can be accessed on Alberta Education’s website: http://education.alberta.ca/department/policy/education-act.aspx.