While going through my daily news, I've noticed quite the controversy going on in the Alberta public school system right now. The provincial government is looking at a proposal that would allow parents to pull their children out of classes that they don't approve of for one reason or another. It has been particularly enlightening to read the editorial comments and letters to the editor in response to this.
Here is an example from the Calgary Herald; Alberta teachers vote to fight parents' rights legislation. Province urged to rethink contentious bill.
Alberta teachers voted Saturday to fight a proposed law that would allow educators to be prosecuted for teaching about sexuality, religion or sexual orientation without informing parents.
More than 400 teachers attending the Alberta Teachers' Association annual meeting were asked to vote on a resolution to urge lawmakers to amend Bill 44.The result was nearly unanimous, with two delegates opposed.
Bill 44, an amendment to the Human Rights Act, would require school boards to notify parents whenever teachers expect to teach "subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation." If the board or the teachers fail to do so, parents will have the right to lodge a complaint with Alberta's Human Rights Commission.
As a home schooling parent, you would think that this shouldn't concern me. After all, we've opted completely out of the public school system. There are, however, those who are very much against the fact that, as home based educators, we don't have to follow the same curriculum as the schools. We're still supposed to meet the basic requirements. We're just free to choose how to meet those requirements, and are not required to do the "electives." Special interest groups that are using the public school system to push their agendas are driven bonkers by this, and some would like to force home schooling families to use their approved curriculum, even when we're not required to use any other school approved curriculum.
What's happening in Alberta disturbs me. I think it's great the the province is supporting parents as the ones ultimately responsible for their children's education. What the school boards and teachers are forgetting is that it is not their place to determine what should or shouldn't be taught to students. That determination belongs firmly with the parents.
Our public school systems are being high jacked by special interest groups that are deliberately trying to bypass the parents to get at the next generation. Whether it's global warming propaganda or anti-heterosexual indoctrination, our schools are no longer about education, but social engineering.
Opponents of this bill have been vocal in the papers. What strikes me most about these people is the overwhelming contempt they have for all parents. To them, any parent who would pull their child from a class must be a bigot, a fundamentalist, a homophobe. They can't even imagine that the parents who would do this might actually have legitimate cause. To them, the schools can do no wrong. To them, only certified teachers are qualified to determine what our children should learn. To them, parents should just stay out of the classrooms and let the "experts" do whatever they want to our children, without question.
Just imagine a potential scenario. Let's say a teacher planned to cover subjects of a sexual nature in their classroom. Aside from the fact that I don't think it's the schools place to discuss sexuality in the classroom (as opposed to, say, teaching about sex in health or biology classes, which is where I think such subjects belong in a school), a teacher might not know about extenuating circumstances. What if one of the students had been sexually traumatized in the past - a possibility sadly very likely. A parent, being informed of this class, could decide to protect their child from a subject matter that's potentially triggering and pull him or her from that class. If, however, this class takes place without the parents' knowledge or consent, it could cause incredible difficulties for the child, and the parent would have no clue why. War vets aren't the only ones who suffer from PTSD. I use this as an example because it's a reality - I actually know someone (now adult) for whom this would have been an issue.
It's bad enough so few parents actually know or care what is being taught to their children. These are not the parents that would bother pulling their kids from any classes, no matter what is being taught. The parents that would do this are the ones that actually take the time to question what is going on in the schools. They want to know what is being taught to their children. They do not blindly accept what the "experts" say. They are the ones that are most active and connected to their own childrens' lives, and we just can't have that, can we? There are too many "experts" who think they, not parents, are better qualified to raise our children, and who would like nothing more than to have children removed from parental influences as early as possible.
My problem isn't that the province of Alberta wants to pass a bill requiring schools to notify parents if they plan to cover controversial topics in the classroom. What bothers me is that they have never been required to do it in the first place, and that teachers think that they should have the power to override parents' say over what is acceptable to be taught to their children.