As a homeschool community, we strongly support any efforts to maintain a parent's legal and fundamental rights to their children and being fully informed. This case was heard in Medicine Hat on June 20th, and is currently under advisement with a 'timely ruling' promised before June 30th. Our immediate and urgent prayers should be going up for the judge and the judgement. One of the largest court cases of our day, it has received little press from the time of filing until recently. There are actually 26 faith-based schools of differing faiths, along with individual parents and groups, including Parents for Choice in Education. John Carpay explained that, "An injunction on Bill 24 provisions would prevent these provisions from being put into force until after the Court has determined the constitutionality of the Bill." He is referring to the Bill's provisions that keep parents in the dark about their child's involvement in student groups or activities and illegal for the staff to share information with parents in all cases. These parents assert that keeping parents in the dark threatens the safety of some of Alberta's most vulnerable and at-risk students.
Alberta Home Education Association
This ruling is almost hard to quantify in its impact. The implications are going to reverberate down throughout the laws of our land. At stake were the freedoms of speech, religion and association and these are near and dear to the hearts of home educators, and all people who value freedoms. We encourage you to read up on the various perspectives that people are sharing. . . there are many.
Here are a few to get you started:
And you may want to sign up for this FREE webinar that will break down the implications of the case:
Alberta Education continues to focus its energies on eliminating exceptions to the public school system. We should be fully aware of these efforts that are being felt around the province, and realize that we want to stand together, lest we fall apart.
The school was in court last month in Wetaskiwin for an injunction with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms against closure by the Battle River School Division (BRSD). The court ruled against Cornerstone's request to continue to operate under BRSD. "Justice Clarkson agreed, however, that it would be unconstitutional for the Alberta government to refuse to grant Cornerstone Christian Academy private school status, which Cornerstone held until it joined BRSD in 2009." Please pray for the families and school as they decide how to respond to the negative decision from the bench.
As always, AHEA encourages its members to be politically active and advocate for the rights of parents and home educating in Alberta. May 4-6, the United Conservative Party had its Founding AGM and voted on many new policies. Many policies were submitted by AHEA members and AHEA Board Members. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this way!
Because of your efforts, parental rights in education were solidified as a policy for the UCP!
The exact wording of the passed policy is as following:
"The United Conservative Party is committed to affirming the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children."
This is a very significant stance for the UCP party to take and one that is of great value to home educators.
Another policy which passed is very important for home educators R106) "The UCP party is committed to parental choice in education, in both form and content." The 'form and content' component is very significant in AHEA's advocacy work with the UCP party!!
Bill 24 - An Act to Support Gay Straight Alliances - was introduced in the legislature on Thursday, November 2, 2017. The stated aim of the legislation is to provide a caring and safe environment for students, but the practical application of this bill is to effectively remove parents from being the primary supporters and guides of their children. Bill 24 mandates that those who attend GSAs, (which could potentially include youth who are struggling with making important identity decisions) be deprived of their right to be guided and supported by those who care for them most, their parents.
AHEA met with Minister Eggen's staff to discuss Bill 24. It was suggested that the legislation would not come out and 'touch' home educators, but it does affect parental authority.
AHEA supports caring for and loving students which is why there is concern for the mandated removal of parents.
Please consider contacting your MLA.
AHEA encourages you to voice your support to those MLAs who stand for parental authority: MLAs opposed to Bill 24
The Government has decided to not proclaim the Education Act for the 2017-18 school year and will continue to use the School Act as the legislation for education in Alberta. The School Act will be brought before the legislature this fall with specific legislative administrative changes to be debated.
Alberta Education is currently conducting a series of consultation meetings to review specific areas of the School Act. The items that are being consulted on came from discussions through the Minister's Board tours this past spring and summer as well as further work on Bill 1 and School Fees. AHEA's attendance at these meetings was not requested, but Assistant Deputy Minister Wendy Boje did meet with AHEA President, Patty Marler to discuss the consultations and the review. ADM Boje indicated that the School Act consult this fall focuses on three areas:
- Educational Service Agreements:
The focus is on service agreements between First Nations communities and local public/catholic school boards
- Age of Entry:
This discussion focuses on the determining the youngest age at which a student may access funding for education with the idea that a standardized age would provide consistency across the province. (i.e. must be 5 prior to Dec.31/Feb.28/Jan 31) (The Education Act had established a common age of entry)
- Age of Access:
This topic reviews the maximum age for providing educational funding to students and how programming is to be implemented for older students. (currently at 19, although funded to age 20, consult is exploring up to the age 21)
It is important to note that AHEA president, Patty Marler, clarified with ADM Boje that the compulsory ages for education will not be changed in the School Act. The School Act defines Compulsory education as being required between the ages of 6 (at September 1) and 16 (younger than 16 on September 1 of the school year).
No educational choice changes to the School Act are to be proposed during this review of the School Act. AHEA advocated for a notification only option for home educators.
It is important to note that AHEA and AHEPS were notified and provided the opportunity to provide input on behalf of home educators relevant to the identified School Act review topics.
President of AHEA
Alberta Education has released their 2017 Standards for Home Education Reimbursement document. The changes AHEA informed home educator's about on June 17 ( Alberta Education Review of Home Education Reimbursements ) have been made.
Both the document and a summary of significant changes to the document are included on Alberta Education's website. Many of the changes AHEA and home educator's advocated for have been incorporated.
Changes worth noting are:
- 50% off music lessons may be reimbursed. This includes private music lessons.
- Musical instrument rental may now be reimbursed (to a max of 50% of parent's funding).
- The complete admissions to recreational activities (such as ski passes or multiuse facilities) may be reimbursed. Family passes are reimbursable if it is less expensive than individual student rates.
- 50% of internet services may be reimbursed for the entire year (not just September to June)
You may view the document and the explanation of changes on the Alberta Education website https://education.alberta.ca/home-education-blended-programs/responsibilities/everyone/resources/
On June 16, AHEA president, Patty Marler, along with school board associations and another home school advocacy group were invited by Alberta Education to discuss the Standards for Home Education Reimbursement. Alberta Education remained true to their word in reviewing and revisiting the document by the end of the school year.
AHEA initially met with Alberta Education in September, 2016 regarding this document. At that point and in subsequent meetings, we outlined many concerns, concerns which you later confirmed in feedback to Alberta Education. All the work undertaken has had a positive impact!
AHEA is pleased that many of the concerns identified by AHEA and home educators were addressed in a revised draft version of the Standards document. The document continues to be 'a living document' with some of AHEA's recommendations from today's meeting being considered for the 2017/2018 document or the 2018/2019 document.
AHEA advocated for parental decision making in all educational reimbursements. However, due to abuses that have occurred over the years with home education funding reimbursements, the government was clear that guidelines will continue to be implemented.
While both home education advocacy groups did not agree on some of the change items being advocated for, Alberta Education did indicate that they would meet further with AHEA to discuss our suggestions for eligible resources.
AHEA also advocated for the release of this document prior to the start of the school year, as the October 2016 release date caused challenges for both parents and home education administrations. Assistant deputy Minister Boje and Minister Eggen's chief of staff Jeremy Nolais assured AHEA that the document would be finalized and released soon.
Minister Eggen's chief of staff indicated that the finances of all school administrations - not only home education administrations - are being closely scrutinized and reviewed. The Standards for Home Education Reimbursement reflect an outcome of the review of the home education component of education in Alberta.
As always, AHEA's Patty Marler advocated for a notification only option for home educators.
The AHEA board has selected a new executive and redistributed board duties.
The new executive is as follows:
- President: Patty Marler
- Vice-President: Richard Yaceyko
- Secretary / Communications: Terry Yaceyko
- Treasurer: David Provins
Special board positions include:
- Media Relations: Paul van den Bosch
- Support Group Liaison / Convention Team Liaison / Special Needs Liaison / New Homeschooler Liaison : Tracy McNichol
- Government Liaison: Team of board members
We all look forward to our new board duties and responsibilities.
Minister Eggen became aware of some board redistributed and has responded:
"Dear Ms. Marler:
I would like to extend my congratulations to you on becoming president of the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA).
As you know, our government believes all students should have a great education and a bright future. Even in challenging economic times, we are continuing to provide stable funding for education – whether it takes place in a public, separate or Francophone school, a charter school, a private school or at home.
Alberta Education is committed to working with our education partners, including parents, in the best interest of students. My department values the input and insight provided by the AHEA on behalf of home educating families. Your commitment to your membership is laudable, and I appreciate your willingness to collaborate on issues pertaining to the home education community.
I look forward to a continued productive relationship with the AHEA under your leadership.