Alberta has a long and rich history of providing choice in the education system. I believe that all Albertans share the same values in wanting a strong, vibrant education system that meets the learning needs of all students, and gives them the skills and knowledge they will need to be successful in school, work and life. The introduction of Bill 15 recognizes this history and the strength of our education system, and honours a key platform commitment we made to Albertans.
This bill was informed by the input and insights of many Albertans, including parents, students and education stakeholder organizations through our Choice in Education Survey and of course, many of you throughout the last election at the doors. I value the perspectives that have been shared, and look forward to continuing our work to improve and modernize Alberta’s education system.
The proposed legislation will protect parental choice within Alberta’s vibrant and diversified education system. Bill 15 also proposes enhancements to education choice. If passed, the Choice in Education Act will create more options for parents to deliver home education to their children, and will allow for the establishment of charter schools that expressly focus on vocation-based education. Vocational schools have an important role to play in our province. This legislation will pave the way to reinvent the vocational high school. Practical and experiential learning, like vocational learning, can prepare young people for fulfilling lifetime careers. Just look at Airdrie, our community is home to many people who work in the trades and benefited from vocational learning. I commend the Rocky View School Board for their innovative thinking and community partnerships such as building futures which allows students a hands-on opportunity and exposure to many trades. There is value in these schools, and I am excited for the opportunities that this legislation can bring in helping our children succeed, in whatever path these choose in life.
Further, the bill proposes an amendment to the Education Act to affirm that parents, not politicians, have the right to choose the kind of education they feel is best for their children. Parents know their children best, and education is one of the most significant decisions that parents can make for their child.
NDP supporter and former candidate Gil McGowan stated that the new legislation would produce, “nutbar…right-wing warriors.” His vicious comments, and the NDP’s unwillingness to condemn this rhetoric is a direct attack on parents that choose charter schools or homeschooling for their children. I find these types of comments completely unacceptable. Parents should be able to choose to educate their children how they see fit, and not be subjected to NDP bullying. Bill 15 will protect Alberta’s long history of education choice, including public and separate schools, Francophone schools, charter schools, independent schools, early childhood education, and home education.
I am happy to support Bill 15: Choice in Education, and I will always stand up for a parent’s right to choose the kind of education given to their children. Just as I know what’s best for my kids, the parents of Airdrie-East know what is best for theirs.