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EDMONTON, August 26, 2002 (LSN.ca) – A survey in 2001 showed that 71% of parents across Canada believe they should have the option of sending their children to charter schools. But so far, Alberta remains the only province to offer them. After they were introduced in the mid-1990s, enrollment fell to 1,720 students in 1998 and teachers unions were quick to gloat that the experiment had failed. But their crowing was premature. Interest promptly recovered and in 2001 numbers reached 2,865 in 10 diverse charter schools with impressive performance records.  Whether it is charter schools or the province’s 192 private schools (which have 25,978 students), says Mark Cooper, a spokesman for Alberta Learning, “the government’s fundamental belief about education” is that “parents have a right and a responsibility to make decisions about their child’s education.” For example, “Religion in private schools has traditionally been a strong draw for Alberta families,” says Cooper. “Most of Alberta’s private schools provide a faith-based education.”  Prof. Lynn Bosetti of the University of Calgary’s education faculty believes school choice will spread: “I believe that British Columbia, in particular, will follow suit,” she says.  For more on this story see page H6 of the Edmonton Journal for Thursday, August 22, 2002.

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