The debate over secular education in Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division (GSACRD) has caused many to take a closer look at how education is delivered in the communities of Morinville and Legal. Emotion aside, the facts need to be paramount to this discussion. Many people have made a conscious decision to choose Morinville and Legal as their home. In order to accommodate such a diverse group of people, our Public/Catholic system clearly “Welcomes students of all faiths and traditions.” This does indeed make our system unique. Although religion classes are offered and the majority of families chose to participate in them (60-70%), families can also choose a Health option instead. Many students participating in the religion classes are not identified as Catholic. What permeates the school day is children developing a sense of personal responsibility and respect for one another. Tolerance and acceptance of others is also evident in the daily instruction of the children as taught by both CATHOLIC and NON-CATHOLIC staff. Academic achievement and self assessment are promoted and the children are encouraged to “let their precious light shine.” Survey results from our schools are deservedly and consistently very high and award winning. Our schools follow the Alberta Curriculum AND we are fortunate to have our childrens’ education enhanced with teachings of “Human” values such as mutual respect, moral integrity, honesty, charity, responsibility, friendship, family and community.
As for the ACSTA’s recommendation for changes to the School Act, there is a clause that GSACRD recognizes the unique position of the Morinville and Legal schools and their desire to serve all families.
A major consideration that has yet to be discussed is the cost of providing an Alternative school (K-12). Has consideration been given to where funding for this will be coming from? Will it be coming out of our childrens’ classrooms? What impact will this have in our childrens’ classrooms? Who will be giving up their school and moving their children to another so as to accomodate alternative education? We know that our school division will experience a 1.2 million dollar shortfall in education funding for the coming year. What programs will need to be eliminated to do so? At this time, we should be focusing our energy on improving the programs and maintaining our high quality of educational programming.
It is also a matter of fact that hundreds of students have received education through this current model and they have gone on to realize personal, academic and professional success. They were in no way ‘harmed’ by exposure to faith-based education. Lastly, as parents, educators, and community members, we are to set an example for all concerned as to how to relate to one another, to respectfully discuss issues, and not to exaggerate, bully, intimidate or threaten others to make our point of view heard. We applaud the town for following their municipal governance guidelines and not getting involved in a “School Board” and “Education Act” issue. It is our position that our communities should work within the parameters of the “Provincial” guidelines for education when discussing this matter. Please refer to our petition at www.gopetition.com/petition/43101.html.
Jessica Chvojka and Charmaine Enns