Editor’s note: The following letter to the editor is in response to Satisfied parents respond to Morinville school issue. The writer has chosen to respond point by point to the letter to the editor of yesterday. Original letter portions are blocked for clarity.
Let’s break this down:
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.
Not expecting the entire public school division to run under a Catholic mandate.
In order to accommodate such a diverse group of people, our Public/Catholic system clearly “Welcomes students of all faiths and traditions.”
So long as you acknowledge permeation of Catholic doctrine throughout the instructional day.
This does indeed make our system unique.
Because it breaks the law.
Although religion classes are offered and the majority of families chose to participate in them (60-70%),
Actually, [GSACRD Superintendent] Keohane stated 60% were in religion class at Vanier elementary, 48% at Notre Dame elementary, 47% at Primeau middle school and 13% at Morinville high school (even though 29% of high school students are Catholic) families can also choose a Health option instead which is still permeated with Christ centered learning – Veggie tales.
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.
What permeates the day is and I quote from the 2010 notice to parents of religious permeation and the 2011-12 Morinville public school registration form: “All of the schools in the Morinville and Legal Wards are Catholic Public Schools. As such, Catholic theology, philosophy, practices and beliefs, the principles of the Gospel and teachings of the Catholic Church, are made accessible to students, including in the curriculum of every subject taught, both in and outside of formal religion classes, celebrations and exercises. Every course of study and educational program, all instructional materials, instruction and exercises will at all times include subject matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion.”
Tolerance and acceptance of others is also evident in the daily instruction of the children as taught by both CATHOLIC and NON-CATHOLIC staff.
It is not tolerant and accepting to deny parents and students exclusion from a religious education when they request it in writing and in light of the School Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is illegal, intolerant and exclusionary – get with the program or get out is the message delivered.
Academic achievement and self assessment are promoted and the children are encouraged to “let their precious light shine.”
The schools teach that students should live through Christ and this is THE belief system.
MERCANTILE CLOSING SALE
Survey results from our schools are deservedly and consistently very high and award winning.
Non-faith based schools are also capable of producing very high and award winning results.
Our schools follow the Alberta Curriculum
AND we are fortunate to have our childrens’ education enhanced with teachings of “Human”
“supposedly exclusively Roman Catholic”
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.
This clause is NOT in the ACSTA submission, a letter was sent to the Minister of Education after Thomas Kirsop called out GSACRD for supporting the ACSTA submission. The board told the minister they have policies in place to ensure non-Catholics would still be able to join school council and they would continue a faith-based Health option class instead of requiring attendance in Religion class. Considering that the board has formally denied parents exclusion from religious permeation which they are required, by law, to do, I do not accept that a “clause” or policy in place for the ACSTA submission will continue after the School Act is changed to state a public board that claims a Catholic mandate may exclusively represent only families who acknowledge a Catholic education as they define it. GSACRD made no mention in their letter addressing Kirsop’s concerns in the ACSTA submission of their continued agreement with getting rid of section 50-2 of the School Act which allows parents to request exclusion from religious instruction. They made no mention of the ACSTA’s request to amend the Alberta Human Rights Act so parents could not file a complaint if the board refuses to allow exclusion from religious instruction.
A major consideration that has yet to be discussed is the cost of providing an Alternative school (K-12).
“Whenever you start a new Catholic school in the community, you get some people feeling that you are dividing the educational community by establishing two school (systems) and splitting up resources,” said Keohane.
“We believe that by exercising our right to a Catholic education we are providing choice and choice is a good thing.”
Keohane also believes the project is actually an economic opportunity for Stettler in that “we will encourage more parents to relocate (to Stettler) because they know there is a Catholic school there.”
Has consideration been given to where funding for this will be coming from?
How about from the public school board that is elected to represent all its electorate and provide an education inclusive to all and ensuring their rights are upheld?
Will it be coming out of our childrens’ classrooms?
As opposed to those other children who do not choose a Catholic education?
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?
Imagine!!! accommodating a secular public education – what a crazy notion in 2011!
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.
Because creating a secular education program and upholding Canadian law would not be “improving” our educational programming at Morinville schools?
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.
Just as they would have from a public secular education.
They were in no way ‘harmed’ by exposure to faith-based education.
Our children are coming home declaring they are Catholic, they are wondering if they are bad people for not attending religion class, they believe the Catholic belief system is THE belief system – even though parents have given written request for their children to not receive a religious 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.
The example set by the GSACRD board and administration has been ignore, dismiss, grudgingly listen and then emphatically deny. They refuse to communicate publically at a forum or with the community at large. We have been told to move, suck it up, learn tolerance through discrimination, what’s wrong with us for not wanting the Catholic God as the guiding belief in Morinville public schools, we should have known public education in Morinville meant Catholic education, Catholics will not be something we are not at a publically-funded public school system – you must be something you are not.
We applaud the town for following their municipal governance guidelines and not getting involved in a “School Board” and “Education Act” issue.
The town’s municipal governance guidelines expect municipal elected officials to “respectfully discuss issues (as the authors put it)” that are of concern to their electorate. Three councillors and the mayor have refused to do so. Just as the GSACRD board of trustees has refused to do so.
It is our position that our communities should work within the parameters of the “Provincial” guidelines for education when discussing this matter.
Yes, let’s refer to the provincial parameters – School Act section 3, 50-2, Alberta Human Rights Act section 4, 11.1. How about the national parameters – The Charter of Rights and Freedoms section 2
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