On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, I would like to highlight some concerns with Bill 2, the proposed Education Act that the Government of Alberta, is in the process of passing, prior to the upcoming election. There is no doubt, that new legislation is required in order to meet the needs of transformation. However, as it currently reads, Bill 2, has the potential to seriously impact publicly funded Catholic education in Alberta, Catholic school boards, and Catholic schools, teachers, staff and students. The Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) and our Board of Trustees are urging all supporters of Catholic education to become more fully involved; become aware of the issues and take action. The Board of Trustees has already communicated their concerns to our local MLA’s and the Minister of Education.
Shared Facilities- The West Lethbridge Centre is an excellent example of partnerships working together to achieve synergy. However, the strength of this partnership between the City of Lethbridge, Public Library, Lethbridge School District and our school division was an understanding of, and respect for, our values. Section 192 (2) of the new bill, creates the potential for the government to dictate that secular and religious-based schools share a space, which may run contrary to the ability of the Catholic School to develop an atmosphere animated by a spirit of liberty and charity based on the Gospel. As a result, it is our position that shared facilities are not acceptable and therefore would suggest an amendment to section 192 (2).
Blended Boards- The proposed legislation, Section 112 (1) would allow the Minister to combine Separate (Catholic) boards together with Public boards, creating a blended board. Like our Catholic schools, separate school districts and divisions are unique and must remain distinct.
Diversity and Respect Provisions- Within our Catholic schools, our Catholic theology, philosophy, practices and beliefs are fully permeated throughout the day. Therefore, it would be impossible as suggested in section 58 (2) of Bill 2 and section 11.1 (2) of the Alberta Human Rights Act to excuse a student attending a Catholic school from religious instruction. Given that, an exemption is being sought for Catholic schools. We also believe that our Catholic theology and values cannot be limited and must be allowed to be taught uninhibited and without sanctions from the government.
Catholic education has been attacked in various provinces and lost due to government interference and/or public complacency. As Catholic education supporters we must be vigilant to ensure that Catholic education is not lost for our students in the province of Alberta. We do make a difference to our students and our communities and our value must never be taken for granted or diminished. Please support Catholic education by learning more from the ACSTA and taking action.