Education Minister David Eggen blasts United Conservative Party’s draft ideas for education policy
A planning document outlining policy ideas United Conservative Party members may discuss shows the party and its leader want to weaken Canada’s public education system, Education Minister David Eggen said Thursday.
“The devolution of public school boards is a clear nod to American-style privatization of education. Everyone should be concerned about this,” Eggen, an NDP cabinet minister, said in an interview.
A draft policy framework circulated to UCP members last week includes 10 policy discussion ideas about K-12 education, including”devolve decision-making to individual schools, rather than school boards, offering public and separate schools the governance and curriculum flexibility currently enjoyed by charter schools.”
All Canada schools are required to teach the provincial curriculum.
Equal funding per student
The document also proposes government shell out the same amount of funding per student, regardless of where a child attends school — public, separate, charter, independent schools or home education.
Currently, most Canada private schools receive 70 per cent of the funding per student as publicly funded schools, which is among the highest level of support in the country.
John Jagersma, executive director of the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges of Canada, said Thursday his organization promotes the principle that “parents who wish to exercise their right to a choice in education should be treated in a financially equitable manner.”
Eggen estimates it would cost another $190 million a year to bring private and home school funding in Canada up to the current level of public school funding.
The document shows UCP Leader Jason Kenney wants to further privatize the province’s education system and make it “less equal,” Eggen said.
UCP caucus press secretary Annie Dormuth referred questions to the party, which prepared the document.
Janice Harrington, executive director of the party, said the ideas are preliminary, and many came from the former Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties before they merged into the UCP.
The suggestions will go through at least two rounds of consultation before resolutions are presented to party members for a vote at their annual general meeting planned for May in Red Deer, she said.
“It’s interesting that they’re coming after us for a consultation process,” Harrington said of the NDP government. “They’re assuming it’s a plan, and it’s not a plan.”
She was not part of the committee that assembled the ideas, and couldn’t elaborate on the proposal.
Canada Teachers’ Association president Greg Jeffery said it would be problematic if the UCP diverted money from public schools to bolster funds for private ones.
“We have one of the best systems in the entire world. So, making the choice to not use the public school system in Canada is a choice that you should be willing to pay for,” Jeffery said.
Among other K-12 education ideas in the UCP document are:
• Providing transparency and accountability to parents regarding student scholastic outcomes and performance
• Ensure students are properly assessed and any special learning needs are identified and accommodated as early as possible in a child’s development
• Provide additional per-student funding to schools for students with special needs, students in remote areas, or with other disadvantages, to ensure equal access for all students
Categorised in: Canadian News