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Alberta Home Education Association

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Our Count Runneth Over

20.09.17.Our-Count-Runneth-Over

September is upon us all with the 'Bang!' of a starting gun in a marathon! Students are refocusing on their studies, moms and dads are re-calibrating their days for fall activities and AHEA continues in its multiple pursuits on your behalf. Let's look at some of the challenges we are currently facing, foresee and the solutions that we are working for.

We must first note that AHEA is blessed to have so many veteran home educators amongst us. A multitude of the parents who are new to home educating already know or have been in touch with others who know home education intimately, and that it is a wonderful testimony to the synergy in the home education community. AHEA works to support the efforts of our community as many of you reach out and open your homes and hearts to those who are finally taking that step or have considered and made the decision in a very short time. An abundance of resources and information can be gleaned from the AHEA website or our AHEA Facebook page. You also can subscribe in the right-hand column on the Political Updates page to receive updates directly to your mailbox. Keep checking for news on the upcoming April 8-10, 2021 AHEA Convention here.

Many associate and independent associate school boards that provide supervision to home educators have been advising that their numbers and staff have doubled in size, if not more. Taking on new families and students have found a very competitive market in the last couple of months. Last year home education was 1% of education stats in Alberta, so we all anticipate with excitement the September 30th Count Day figures, but we realize that is not the end of the story.

AHEA has been advocating for several months with the Minister and the Education Department as a whole to work on a plan to anticipate the potential capacity and demand issues for home education in the current environment. We are so pleased that home education will see so many new families joining us and want to ensure that even more families continue to have the choice to move to home education during the rest of the year even if they receive no funding due to moving after September 30th. While the home education community has for years adopted this type of family with no qualms and just a gracious eye to the future of home education, this seems unlikely to be as manageable or simple this year. Home education must be a viable option year-round!

Many changes and exceptions have been granted the other educational models due to the need to be flexible this year, including the fact that additional funds have been flowing to ease and accommodate the unusual needs and situations. While AHEA does not typically ask for extra funding, this may be a year where it is necessary to look at some compensation mid-year for associate boards to continue onboarding anyone changing their educational decision during the year as they are being offered quarterly choices in the public system. AHEA not only wants families to be able to start home educating if they decide to opt out of the public system, but we want to ensure that they have the choice to start with an ideologically aligned supervising authority who will support them in the ways that they may need.

Of course, this fall also brought in the Notification Only, No Funding (NONF) option, effective September 1, 2020. AHEA was pleased to see the fruition of its advocacy and the implementation of the unsupervised option. The new Parents for Choice in Education Executive Director, Jeff Park, correctly notes in their last article that NONF is a huge win and Alberta is now the best place to home educate in North America due to the variety of choices! AHEA advocates for something that money cannot buy – the freedom of parents to make the best choices for their child.

Now that the option itself has been made a reality, it is time for us to work on honing the verbiage around it in the recently released and updated Home Education Regulations. There was so much activity this fall that sufficient attention to the wording of the regulations around this option within the department may have overlooked important clarifications. However, AHEA had already started addressing this and will continue to do so, along with other Alberta partners in education like Parents for Choice in Education, who concur that while checks and balances are to be expected, there is room and a need to refine the current regulations.

Overall, it's been an exceptional year of progress for the provincial advocacy work of AHEA, and we look forward to continuing to interact with the government on behalf of home education families who highly value their ability to home educate and the freedom to deliver a customized program for their children. One of the items that AHEA has already started pursuing is the funding for special needs children who are home educated. More information will be coming out on this as work progresses and as we collect information from our families.

            Watch for upcoming opportunities to attend
AHEA 2020 Fall Talks – How Our Work and Future Affect You!!

Consider supporting AHEA – Working for YOU! 

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2020/21 Home Education Notification Forms

20.08.NONF-Open-Door

 Notification ONLY, NO Funding (NONF) form is available!!

This is the UNSUPERVISED form.

This is the updated SUPERVISED form.

Wonder why the change in forms? Read about the exciting new option for home education families in this article, A Liberty Goal Achieved

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A Liberty Goal Achieved - Notification Only, No Funding Is A Reality This Fall

20.08.NONF-Open-Door

The parents of AHEA have always valued being able to home educate with as little government intervention as possible. This view represented the most freedom possible to home education families while we fall under the purview of the Ministry of Education. This fall, that dream is becoming a reality and is an exciting addition to the choices that we already have had. AHEA is proud to have successfully advocated for the Notification Only, No Funding (NONF) option for the home educators in Alberta.

"We have been championing this sort of option for a number of years and are thankful to see it included in the updated Home Education Regulation that is to take effect on September 1, 2020. I hope that many parents choose this option and I pray that all parents and children who go this route are blessed in the years to come in this freedom-leaning choice."

Ted Tederoff - President, AHEA

The Choice We Have Had – Supervised

NONF will differ from the supervised format you will have experienced under an associate board, which was the only choice until now if you wanted to home educate. Associate boards required you to do four things on behalf of the government:

  1. Notify through them, at which time your children are entered into the PASI system. (This allows them to receive the grant of $1700, which you split 50/50.)
  2. Submit a copy of your education plan, which informs the validity of your spending and evaluations.
  3. Provide proof of purchase by way of submitting receipts that tie into your education plan and the funding guidelines.
  4. Give documentation about your child's work/assessments to associate board teachers, also known as your facilitators.

We have all grown used to the oversight and the relationship. For families who feel confident in their ability to educate without the government representative support in funding and manpower, you will now be able to choose to proceed to educate without supervision.

The New Option – Unsupervised

NONF is going to be as simple as it sounds – one step. You will fill out a form to notify the government of your intention to home educate in the new unsupervised format. You will provide typical information that is always required – name, date of birth, address and proof of identity. Since you will be taking responsibility for the education of your child that is not supervised by anyone else you will declare many of the same things that you have followed under an associate board. You will be agreeing that you're providing an education that falls under the Home Education Regulations (the Alberta Program of Studies OR the Schedule of Learning Outcomes), evaluating progress, understand you will not be receiving funding and are still under the oversight of Alberta Education if there are concerns.

Don't forget that although this option is only coming online on September 1st, you have until September 30th to have your notification submitted. Be aware that the associate boards are very busy and may reach capacity, so it will be a courtesy to them if you let them know you have decided to move to the Notification Only, No Funding option as early as possible. The Department of Education is currently working to streamline the notification process. An online option that moves your notification to either to the department or to an associate board is hoping to be up by September first, where you can upload your necessary documents along with the form. In the meantime, a .pdf will be available shortly that allows you to print, sign, sending everything to the necessary party.

UPDATE: This is the UNSUPERVISED form.  This is the updated SUPERVISED form.


Checks and Balances Are to be Expected

All educational models have checks and balances built into them. Things like truancy are easily understood and widely known in the public system, but are not relevant to home educators. In setting up this new option, the department needed to build in checks and balances. So far there has not been anything that causes us to be concerned. Any reports that there is a home educator having a problem will first be considered for validity, as there is not going to be an automatic triggering of any kind of inquiry. The Director who already oversees all the education models will include our new option in his portfolio. The criteria for an investigation would be if your home education program did not fall in line with the Home Education Regulations or if you were not providing your children with the opportunity to learn.

The department is working on a process to handle concerns that come in, and AHEA has been gratified to be consulted by the Minister on such a sensitive issue. We reached out to the HSLDA in the USA and Canada about our proposal and have been pleased that in other places the notification only programs have worked well and instances of this type of a concern process being needed are rare as parents meet the criteria. We are pleased that in Alberta we fall under the Education Department instead of Social Services, unlike Ontario, which means we don't have a social worker to deal with, and can instead remaining focused on educational issues. We have suggested in our proposal that in the cases where an assessment may be required that someone who has experience with home education be brought in so that a family will be best understood. As things are decided and become policy, and further information becomes available, we will let you know. AHEA is trusting that home educators will have the best interests of their child at heart, and that everyone is well educated in the requirements laid out. We should also all remember that the exception does not make the rule, and no education model has perfect results, so home education will not be held to an impossible standard that has not been achieved elsewhere.

How It Happened

AHEA has advocated strongly for NONF over the last year and a half. We have been blessed to have a Minister that believes in parents and in their ability to make choices in the best interests of their children. Minister LaGrange presented this position in the Choice in Education Act that received royal assent on June 26, 2020, and this option was made possible by the changes that it produced in the current Education Act This has been followed by the changes to the Home Education Regulations. Although the amendments have been made available, and have been poured over by many, a final copy of the amended Regulations will not be available until September 1st from the Queen's Printer.

"It is to the credit of Minister Adriana LaGrange that this is now an option for those dedicated and responsible parents who desire the least intrusion into their children's education process.

"The current AHEA executive is to be congratulated for their continued efforts to see this to completion. It is a notable accomplishment, with practical aspects of education returning to the purview of parents, where it rightfully belongs."

Raymond Strom – HSLDA Canada

AHEA supporters will appreciate that we don't seek additional funding for home educators because we believe that money creates undue influence. We are grateful for the choice that Alberta home educators now have in this area. Parents who don't need to consider if what they are spending on curriculum will be approved experience financial freedom in their decision making. Parents who have funding, but are not looking to receive what the public school student costs taxpayers, exhibit wisdom and reasonability, with an eye to the connected cost of what would be asked of them. Not needing to worry about making changes to their education plan and submitting it for review and approval will be a freeing experience for some, while all home educators are able to pivot and utilize every opportunity and to flex with their child and their learning. We are proud to represent parents who define true diversity in customized education for their child.



AHEA, together with you, continues to work for and safeguard liberty 
                                in our country, homes and minds.

"Where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty."

2 Corinthians 3:17b 

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