Friday, December 5, 2014

Alberta Schools and GSA's

With the controversy and dialogue that has emerged recently with the debate over the Alberta government's Bill 10 I thought I'd weigh in with some thoughts of my own.  Anytime you decide to mix politics and education issues you are bound to get a storm it seems.  I should start out by saying that I believe strongly in GSA's and that the Bill in its current form is utter garbage.  (For a timeline of how exactly we got into this trainwreck, this post here provides a good overview of events.)   In its original form, Bill 10 would allow students who wanted to form a GSA, but whose school boards refused, the right to appeal to the provincial human rights commission.  Yes, apparently, in this day and age, some politicians feel one must ask another group or body for some basic rights to do something.  Sad.  An amendment to the bill would have allowed students in this situation to appeal or the right to form a GSA to the Education Minister instead.  One can only imagine if that homophobe Jeff Johnston still held the education portfolio.  This amendment in my view places too much power in the hands of a single individual.  And while I'm not that familiar with our new Education Minister (as he is still new to his post) and I'm sure he is a step up from the last train wreck we had, I find the notion of placing the final decision in the hands of a single individual rather abhorrent.  In the end for me, it all boils down to issues of liberty.  If Catholic school boards are going to fight this tooth and nail, I say, fine.  Don't accept our tax money.  It's NOT your money.  It's OUR money.  Kindly, do not use my money to advance intolerant views and perpetuate the stereotype of Albertans as a bunch of regressive hicks. If you want to have your own school system and call the shots, fair enough.  I'm actually in support of that.  Just DO NOT expect me to pay for it.

Thankfully the new premier has grown a brain and decided to put the bill on hold  for further consultations.  While this will inevitably delay things, its certainly better than passing the Bill in its current form.  I've spent the last couple of days sifting the many arguments against the formation of GSA's through my head.  They really should put logic and rhetoric back in to the education system because many of the counter-arguments I've heard out there are simply facile and ridiculous.  Easy enough to mock but I won't do that here because I want to keep a serious focus on an important issue.

I suppose its easy for some politicians to downplay or ignore students who want to form such groups but really, it won't be too long before these students can vote.   Hopefully we won't have to wait that long before we get some action on this issue.  I would urge all our MLA's to think this issue through carefully and vote cautiously.   (I should add that it appears that our own MLA appears to be in support of GSA's.)  LISTEN to what STUDENTS want.  Because there is an election here in the next couple of years.  Many current students will be old enough to vote.  They WILL remember.


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