EDMONTON, Alberta, 24 October, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Alberta government proposed a new Education Act yesterday that is causing parental rights and pro-family groups to breathe a sigh of relief. The new bill is substantially different from a previous version that had rallied concerned homeschooling parents to arms.
“Today is a good day,” said Patty Marler, government liaison for Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA), in a press release.
Marler said that home educators have “good reason to smile and celebrate” since the newly proposed Act “includes some key wording that shows the Minister has listened to Alberta parents.”
Garnett Genuis, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education said that the government press release that introduced the Act yesterday “strikes the right notes.”
In that release, education minister Jeff Johnson called the Act the “first legislation in Canada to formally recognize the role of parents as a child’s first and most important teacher.”
“The bill continues to ensure parents have choice about the kind of educational environment that is right for their child, whether it is public, separate, Francophone, private, charter or home education,” the press release stated.
In section 32, under “Parent Responsibilities”, the revised Act states that a “parent has the prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be provided to the parent’s child, and as a partner in education, has the responsibility to (a) act as the primary guide and decision-maker with respect to the child’s education.”
The proposed Act, if passed, will replace the School Act of 1988.
Alberta homeschooling groups sounded the alarm in February after the Progressive Conservative government attempted to pass a bill that mandated “diversity” education in the home.
A spokesperson for Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk told LifeSiteNews.com that under the Act homeschooling parents could not teach their children that homosexual acts are sinful, although the minister subsequently backed down from that statement.
Thousands rallied at the Alberta Legislature in March to protest the inclusion of the Alberta Human Rights Act in Section 16 of the proposed Act (Bill 2). Critics pointed out that home and private schools that taught the precepts of their faith could be prosecuted by human rights tribunals for “hate crimes” under the Act.
The previous Education Act bill failed to pass its third reading last March due to the Conservative Government having called an election.
AHEA noted that the worrisome reference to the Alberta Human Rights Act in the old version of the bill has been replaced with wording from the current School Act.
In section 16 under “Diversity and respect” the revised act states that all school courses, programs, and instructional materials “must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the common values and beliefs of Albertans.”
The Act clarifies that school courses, programs, and instructional materials “must not promote or foster doctrines of racial or ethnic superiority or persecution, social change through violent action or disobedience of laws.”
The AHEA told its members to call the Education Minister’s office and “thank them for listening and responding to Alberta parents.”
“Today is indeed a good day,” said Marler. “So please thank God for today.”
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