One of the mandates that Albertans, and especially my constituents, called for prior to the 2019 Provincial Election was the need for greater choice in our children’s education systems and further protection for the current schooling options available in Alberta. As a former educator who understands the benefits of having options when it comes to our children’s education, I have continued to advocate on behalf of parents and was incredibly proud to have played a part in the passing of Bill 15 “Protecting Choice in Education” during this summer session.
Our government understands that parents should play the most essential role in the raising of their children and that the right to decide for themselves where and how their child learns should never be taken away from them. The establishment of Bill 15, passed in the most recent sitting of the Provincial Legislature, ensures that there continues to be choice in our education system by amending the preamble of the Education Act to include recognition of Section 26.3 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This internationally recognized document states that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Under Bill 15 we will ensure the creation of new charter schools, the creation of vocation-focused charter schools, protection for the status and funding of independent schools across our province, while also providing new options for parents who would like to home-school their children. Bill 15, which comes into force on Sept. 1, will ensure our province maintains its status as a world leader in high quality education and has already been acknowledged and praised by members of the Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta and The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools.
Francophone schools, charter schools, independent schools, home education and early childhood education all have an important part to play in the education system and our government has worked hard to affirm this through legislative policy. The implementation of Bill 15 will not only strengthen our current school system but allow for new developments that will benefit our younger generations for years to come. Campaign promise made and campaign promise kept.
For more information on what is happening in education at the provincial level or questions regarding back to school procedure this fall and what that means for the future of our kids feel free to call our office at 780-542-3355.
-MLA Mark Smith