The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) is urging the provincial government to resist pressure from home-schooling interests over a new bill, while pressing for a reduced role for charter schools.
Home-schooling advocates disagree with language in Bill 2, the Education Act, which would require all curriculum to conform to the Alberta Human Rights Act. Advocates are concerned the bill will impose stricter regulations about what can be taught within their homes. The bill has already passed second reading in the legislature.
Most of the home-school educators opposed to the changes are concerned that some religious teachings will conflict with the rules outlined in the Alberta Human Rights Act.
Carol Henderson, president of the ATA, says that parental rights are covered by the new act, and she thinks the advocates can teach whatever they believe “outside their formal schooling.”
The ATA advocates for inclusive public education that respects diversity and says home schooling just doesn’t quite cut it. “We’re not big supporters of home schoolers,” says Henderson.
Her concern with the bill involves the shifting role of charter schools. The new bill proposes further expansion and deregulation of these fully funded private schools, but the ATA, which currently represents 34,500 full- and part-time teachers, would like to see this portion of the bill amended and the role of charter schools reduced.
Bill 2 proposes the removal of two requirements for charter schools: to have the operation of the school as the operator’s sole purpose; and allowing first right of refusal for school boards that are willing to provide an alternative program proposed in a charter application.
The ATA is currently supporting Bill 2, but continues to express its concerns to the minister.