Ensuring Alberta’s children have access to a world class education is one of the most important roles provincial government can play in building our province.
In partnership with the important core values taught by parents, education provides a launching point for a healthy and contributing citizen. To deny a child a proper education is to greatly increase the risk of losing that child to ignorance, poverty and crime.
The provincial government currently spends more per capita than any other province on education. The problem is that hundreds of millions of these dollars are wasted and often misallocated by what has become a massive centralized bureaucracy at the Legislature.
As we have seen with the new Alberta Health Superboard, placing control of program and service delivery in the hands of large centralized bureaucracies is a recipe for disaster.
Even more disturbing has been the current PC Government’s track record of selecting new school sites based on politics rather than actual need.
It is far more transparent, efficient and effective to decentralize decision making into the hands of parents, local schools, and elected school boards. They best understand the needs of their students and would never think to play politics with our children’s welfare.
A distinguishing and important feature of Alberta’s education system is that it provides parents with a greater range of educational choices than other jurisdictions in North America.
Although strong public schools are critical to our education system, Catholic schools, public charter schools, private schools and home-schooling provide educational opportunities and teaching methods that are sometimes unavailable in our public system.
In fact, our public schools have responded to competition from Catholic, public charter, home and private schooling by rolling out a diverse range of excellent core and optional courses that are benefiting students across Alberta.
Continuing to foster a culture of educational choice, innovation and competition will pay dividends for our teachers, parents and children for decades to come.
It is also absolutely critical that special needs students and their parents are provided with the funding necessary to address these challenges as early as possible in a child’s development. Failure to do so can have catastrophic consequences for the child, the child’s family, and will result in massive costs to taxpayers down the road.
Often, special needs funding is difficult to access with parents and teachers having a very limited say in how it is best utilized. In most cases, parents will want to work with their child’s school to include their student in a regular classroom setting. When proper support is provided, inclusive education is very beneficial to both special needs students as well as their classmates. Some parents may choose a different option and this choice should be respected as well. Each special needs student is unique and should, in partnership with parents, be considered and supported accordingly.
LOCAL DECISION MAKING
- We will depoliticize school construction by allowing locally elected school boards to decide where schools should be built, instead of government bureaucrats in Edmonton.
FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
- We will empower public, Catholic and charter schools by allowing funding (operational and maintenance) to follow the student to the school each student attends
- Schools will be made accountable by posting their graduation rates and subject-by-subject assessment results, so parents can make an informed decision about where to send their children
- We have no plans to change the 70% funding figure that private school students receive, which is an agreeable ratio
- There is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and learning – we will help enable children to learn at their own pace and in their own way
- New technologies and teaching methods make it possible to tailor learning to individual student needs
- Students won’t be moved on to more advanced material until they demonstrate a strong understanding of the subject matter
- We will work with teachers and stakeholders to replace Provincial Achievement Tests with a new standardized model that evaluates a student’s actual improvement and comprehension of subject matter
SUPPORT FOR SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS
- We will properly assess special learning needs as early as possible in a child’s development and mandate adequate funding to follow that student to whichever school that child’s parents decide is best
- Respect the choice of parents who wish to give their special needs student the opportunity to attend the same classrooms as typical students wherever possible, and ensure that adequate supervision and support is provided to each such student so that the classroom can remain a healthy learning environment for all.