Alberta Party weighs in on Morinville issue

Glenn Taylor
Dear Editor:

For months now Morinville parents have been fighting for a basic right that is allowed in every other community in Alberta – to have their child attend a non-religious public school. Recently I was asked by a local resident to help bring provincial awareness to the concerns being expressed by him and others that the Provincial Government has reneged on a commitment made by them to the citizens of Morinville.

The town of Morinville has strong Catholic roots going back over a century and all residents can be proud of the history that Morinville was founded upon. In 2011, the demographics of the Morinville community continue to change and this growing diversity includes the freedom to be educated free of religion. It is the belief of many that having Catholic education as the only public option in Morinville is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In the spring of 2011, the Minister of Education asked GSACRD to survey the Morinville community to gauge support for secular school options. The results of the survey clearly showed support for a secular program. Presumably from pressure from the Minister of Education, GSACRD selected Sturgeon School Division, the neighbouring county public school board, to offer a secular program in Morinville.

I’ve been told that this new secular program would be in place for the fall of 2011. An information meeting for parents and community members was held and registrations were accepted in late spring.

Plans were made to have modular school buildings brought in as presented by Dr. Michele Dick, Sturgeon School Division Superintendent to parents in late spring. Last Monday it was reported that those plans had changed when Alberta Education rejected all of the infrastructure proposals put forward by Sturgeon School Division, including modular school buildings. Once again, a school board has been put in the position of taking the heat for a Government decision and this has to stop.

Although reports have Alberta Education and Greater St. Albert Catholic School Division in discussions on having a local option for preschool and kindergarten in September and modular in place by December, I understand from friends that live in Morinville that many families are left feeling uneasy and frustrated by the lack of a concrete plan of where their children will be attending school in September. What is most important to note is that as time races closer toward the beginning of the school year and indecision increases, the secular school option being supported by Sturgeon School Division will no doubt lose registrations as parent anxiety increases.

This latest move is part of a larger pattern of behaviour on the part of the Government. Most recently, the Government of Alberta refused to increase the funding for school boards in order to cover the contracts they had agreed upon with teachers. This forced school boards to make drastic cuts to their teaching staff.

Whether it is signing contracts with teachers and not increasing the funding to school boards, or committing to having a portable classroom solution in place for the untenable situation in Morinville, the government needs to take responsibility for the commitments it makes, instead of hiding behind school boards.

Glenn Taylor
Leader
Alberta Party

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10 Comments

  1. Given the timing, this certainly will become an election issue. So, I say, well placed and well said Glenn Taylor. The support for change to this obviously negligent and illegal system forced upon our future (children) is appreciated. The lack of action and passing of responsibility demonstrated by the education minister/government is clear as day. Although my children won’t be attending school in Morinville, I worry about the impact this will have on their education with the higher attendance levels in the school they will attend. This doesn’t just affect Morinville. There are so many things wrong with this whole situation but I am optimistic that once the stench clears and ALL of our children are provided with a fair education, we can all breath a little easier.

  2. While I applaud any politician trying to make a positive change, I also find myself wondering how much they actually care when it’s obvious that it’s for the benefit of gaining votes in an election. Where has this supposed caring politician been throughout the entire discussion/argument? Your message of positive change might be laudible but your last minute entry into the discussion only makes me think you’re trying to “buy” votes. I think mine will go elsewhere.

  3. Glenn Taylor didn’t really have much to say in his editorial other than critisize the ruling political party in Alberta, and telling us what we already know. Instead of offering suggestions to how the Alberta party would tackle the issue if they were the ruling party.

    I do commend Mr. Taylor for at least letting himself be heard and showing the people of Morinville that he is aware of the issue. That’s already a far cry from what the current ribbon cutting, photo op whenever he can get one, issue avoiding, MLA that currently represents Morinville. All he has done is pass the buck to the Minister of Education every time complaints roll his direction.

    I look forward to seeing how some of the other politcal parties would tackle this issue before the next election, but I’m thinking most parties will avoid this issue like the plague in fear of losing to many votes by saying the wrong thing.

    Wild Rose Party, Liberal Party, NDP Party – Where are you??

  4. Nice to hear comments from the political side. As Joel said, I can hardly wait to hear what the other parties, particularly the one in power and the opposition, have to say. This discussion has gone on for quite some time with no worthwile comment or results from those who are elected at any level.

    However, everyone, this letter included, continues to ignore or overlook the fact (my opinion as I’m not a lawyer) that religious and ethnic, backgrounds do not determine what type of education system public funds are obligated to support.

    I offer a case in point that is common to many cities and provinces in the rest of Canada. I grew up in an area that, then and even more so now, has a very strong Indian/Pakistani presence dating back almost 40 years. While their communities have started to put their own separate schools in place, it was the secular, publicly funded schools that were there first for everyone to attend. Everything else, including the many Catholic schools in the area, are separate.

    Through ignorance of the rest of the country, small town atmosphere, continuity, religious pressure or influence, heritage, cultural, complacency, or any other related or unrelated issues you can name, the current situation was allowed to occur and persist. That does not make it right, nor mean that it should be allowed to continue any longer.

    To the people who would like to see the status quo maintained, I say that that is not an option. Catholic-only education system in Morinville will soon be dead. Bury it, grieve, then move on and hopefully help make the new system stronger and more vibrant by helping, not resisting. The genie is out of the bottle and cannot be put back, so start looking forward.

    I can hardly wait until the province is forced to act definitively and start telling all parties concerned how they will make this work. It is not rocket science – either come up with portables or a resource sharing arrangement (supposedly the schools are Catholic public so this should not have been a problem) until a PUBLIC school without Catholic permeation can be built or an existing school turned over (best, cheapest solution) for secular education. The longer all parties drag their feet, come up with excuses or fail to work together, the more painful the result will be. Who loses in all this? The children who attend and the parents who want the best for their children.

  5. We are pretty much agreed in this thread. I personally would not put by children through the Roman Catholic system. You only have to look at the damage that has been done in countries like Ireland, where the Roman Catholics have had their way for far too long. Further afield, the Philippines have nothing to be proud of with their institutionalised Roman Catholic culture.

    All in all, I find the Roman Catholic culture unsustainable in the medium term, and the sooner all our kids can enjoy the benefits of a secular system, the better for all of us.

  6. I am curious to find out how GSACRD got to be in charge of running schools in Morinville and Legal to begin with. Morinville is in the middle of Sturgeon County and should be their school district.

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