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Alberta Home Education Association

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Words From a Seasoned Homeschool Dad - Financial Literacy

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In just three years, the greatest teacher of all time impacted the world more than anyone else. How was that possible? Jesus Christ was both human and divine. What did He say about financial literacy? A lot! He taught about money matters more than heaven and hell combined. Many of His parables were filled with financial overtones.

What did he say? Before I get into specifics let me say emphatically that if our government gurus studied Jesus' teachings on the proper use of money, we would not be in today's financial mess. Sometimes I think senior finance bureaucrats need a Dave Ramsay course or counsel from Mary Hunt!

First, a little about me. My family came to Canada from communist Europe when I was four, and we settled in Toronto. My dad was an accountant in Poland, but in Canada he got a job in a bakery as an oven man. It was hot and hard work. He did not have to speak much English, be employed year-round, and buy fresh baked goods for his four children. He often worked nights to earn more. My mom worked during the daytime in the Sears steno pool. Both parents toiled and were especially frugal. 

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The One Thing

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 "I made everyone a mailbox, put it on their bedroom doors, and sent them all mail, but no one has the time to send me any mail!" my 10-year-old daughter moaned, "no one has time to play!"

"Play?" My mind fought to come up with a reasonable excuse. "She doesn't realize Grandpa's just come through open heart surgery, a number of bills need paid, we're down to one vehicle, her sister-in-law has gone through a devasting late miscarriage, and look what's happening in the world…!"

I call it "mind chaos." Webster defines chaos as, "...a confused mass or jumble of things, a state of utter confusion."

"But she's right. Why can't I play her game for a while? Why is my mind in chaos? How am I ever going to be of the right "mindset" to homeschool this fall? I sent up a prayer. A verse came to mind. "...Let us lay aside every weight... (weight meaning: worry, concern, debt, mass, burden, encumbrance…) and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1. God then reminded me that I needed to keep the most important thing first for me not to have a chaotic mind.

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A Helpful Handbook

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When I get a handbook alongside an item, a car for example, it is meant to help me understand and appreciate the thing I've invested in. You could say that its intent is to continue to encourage support for the choice the consumer has made. What I don't find in my handbook is encouragement to make a different choice, undermining my decision. If only the drafted update to the home education handbook seemed to work the same way.

10 years is a long time to wait between updates. The home education community and stakeholders have felt impatient as the old 'current' handbook is missing so many vital changes that have taken place after the last few years of advocacy. AHEA contributed to this resource for parents who go to the government website because it has importance. It is a bridge for those who don't know yet of other places to go for information or previously helped them know who the stakeholders representing their interests are. Parents should be able to find a goodly amount of help here.

This draft that the Department of Education finally shared in July can not exactly be described as 'helpful.' The last discussion on it and draft, a year ago and with different staff, left us a bit more hopeful. Now one could say this draft of the handbook is factual but dissuading and even discouraging for those who have already chosen or do want to consider home education, leaving the purpose of it a question. That purpose needs clarification if this version is going to exceed the old.

Critically, the underlying philosophical difference between the bureaucracy and home education families is captured in the second sentence, stating that, "Parents or guardians choosing a home education program for their children assume the primary responsibility for their child's education." (italics mine) Actually, parents that choose to home educate retain their responsibility to educate their child, they do not assume it from the government. We believe and have defended this as a God given, not government given, right and an essential pairing with the responsibilities they have.

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AHEA Board Statement on Exec. Director Resignation

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On Monday Jul 18, 2022, the board of directors of AHEA unanimously made the difficult decision, after significant consideration, to accept the tendered resignation of its Executive Director, Shawna Sundal.

Shawna began her tenure with AHEA as a board member for a number of years, before agreeing to fill the position of Executive Director some 18 months ago. As a board member she brought skills and ability that helped reshape aspects of the organization, like the web site and finances to name a few, as well as serve as government liaison where she brought her professional approach and keen insight to bear. She also advocated strongly for the statement of faith, which would bring added protections and stability to the organization in the future. In her relatively short time as ED, Shawna has pioneered the position which saw her build on the role of government liaison, where she was able to work with the current government to bring about changes such as the Notification Only, No Funding option for homeschoolers, as well as advocate for special needs parents to access government programs and funding. All of this while AHEA worked hard to see its way through difficult and stressful times which kept conventions from happening and people from gathering.

The board wishes to thank Shawna for her investment in the homeschooling community at large, and the AHEA organization in particular. Shawna will be missed, and we wish her well in where the Lord would lead her next.

To our members, supporters and volunteers, please continue to keep AHEA in your prayers as we move forward from this point in the work of representing the needs of the homeschooling community in Alberta. Your support is truly appreciated, and we look forward to seeing you all at the 2023 AHEA Convention, July 6-8.

Peter Verhoog
Chair
Alberta Home Education Association

Executive Director Resignation

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AHEA has required rather intense focus in the four and a half years I have been on the Board – first as a Director and then as the Executive Director. I accepted the role change as an opportunity to better serve the interests of the home educators of Alberta. I have always been inspired by those whom I have had the privilege to represent; you are who I have worked so hard for and every effort that I have undertaken has been with you in mind.

During my tenure with AHEA it has been a personal joy to contribute in these areas in particular: 

1.Successful advocacy of the Notification Only option for home educators.

2.Guiding the organization through the repeal and replacement of AHEA's legal documents to allow for the Statement of Faith and the updating of the Bylaws.

3.Successful advocacy for access to Special Needs Supports for home educators.

4."Fall Talks" and "The Arrow" to bring public awareness of AHEA and our work.

5.The "Parental Rights In Perspective" YouTube series, addressing a fundamental attack.

AHEA has so much potential and has been, I believe, very necessary to the preservation of home education in Alberta as we have known it – traditional in form and function. Parental and religious rights have faced ever increasing challenges that are bound to further intensify in the years ahead of us. I don't believe that AHEA's fundamental mission has changed. It is quite clear, however, that the effort and work to carry out our mission had to expand to defend the principles that used to be known and assumed. 

We are undergoing a fundamental shift in our culture and country. Home educators will be at the cusp of that challenge because we are a niche of the education population that has had the greatest freedom. It has been my desire to pre-position AHEA to meet these crucial times and challenges. The principles and legal practices which I believed would strengthen the organization and keep it safe were argued for, agreed to, and acted upon over the years. The goals and intentions that I was repeatedly elected under as a director remain and I still stand by them today.

However, the time has come for me to step back. I have submitted my resignation and will finish by August 15, 2022. It was hard, very hard, for me to come to this conclusion but it is a step I've come to believe is necessary in the last few months. I believe that there will be a way to contribute to this cause again after I have had a chance to take some time for family and to rest, so I am at peace with this decision. I will dearly miss my dedicated team, who worked tirelessly alongside me – you gave me hope and joy.

It has been an honour to serve as AHEA's first Executive Director. AHEA has a piece of my heart, held by all the home education families, and you will remain in my prayers. Never forget who you are, why you do what you do, and how important your voice is. You make a difference as individuals and as families. What you stand for is very critical to everything we hold dear. May God give you wisdom, discernment, and heart today and in the times ahead.

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