Letter to the editor: Open letter to Minister of Education

An Open Letter To:
Hon. Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Education

Mr. Lukaszuk

I have been relatively silent regarding the status of public education in Morinville since your transition to give you time to acclimatize to your new portfolio. Given comments recently attributed to yourself in various press reports (Example used for this letter is the St. Albert Leader, although I note, with apologies to authors for lack of citation, similar statements in other publications) it seems to me that you have most certainly formulated your opinion on the matter. At this time I would like to share mine regarding some of the things you have said;

To your comments regarding “The parents are represented by the trustees at the table.” (St. Albert Leader, Nov. 22nd).

GSACRD has been very clear from the beginning that their faith-based responsibilities override their responsibilities to the public as a whole. They provided myself and other parents of Morinville with seven potential solutions to our concerns with permeation in a public school. Six of those options involved removing our children from the public education system of Morinville, the 7th, to accept permeation of Catholic practices and theology throughout the educational day. GSACRD has told the parents of Morinville they cannot represent the public above or outside of their claimed faith, and they have told your office they cannot represent the public above or outside of their claimed faith. They do not, by their own words and actions, represent me.

Sturgeon [School Division] representatives have both through word and deed demonstrated they do wish to consider the rights and the needs of the public at large in Morinville, however despite their good faith intentions, my gratitude for, and acceptance of them, they are not my resident board, I cannot vote for them, nor do they have a legal obligation or are they beholden to me. As much as I wish they could, they do not, by matter of jurisdiction and law, represent me.

To your comments regarding permeation of Catholic teachings in publicly funded schools being “central to Catholic education” (St. Albert Leader Nov. 22nd);

While it may be central to their desires, permeation violates the NWT Ordinances upon which the Alberta Act was formed. The regulations within those ordinances regarding the application of religious instruction in education have not been denounced, altered or overridden in any following Regulation or Act. While this technically illegal act may not be opposed in a separate school where parents wilfully choose to send their children, in a Public System it is prejudicial, discriminatory, and if Morinville is the bar upon which others are to be judged, as shining an example of religious bigotry in a public institution as I have ever seen or been subject to in my lifetime.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has twice sent letters to the public school board responsible for the residents of Morinville, and copied your office, asking clarification of the board’s legal clearance to practice religious permeation in a public school. To date and to my knowledge, they have received no response. Perhaps the Minister would like to respond to the CCLA on the school boards behalf given that he has publicly voiced support (and by his portfolio, the support of his office, his party, and the Government) for an act that a good number of us understand to be unconstitutional, immoral, and illegal.

“World-wide renowned” (St. Albert Leader, Nov 22nd) indeed, but then, so was another school system that placed faith based mandates ahead of the public good. The system I’m referring to Sir, in case it escapes you, was the Residential School System founded in the 1800s.

Bigotry of any sort, Sir, regardless of the political or cultural status of the favoured party, has no place in any public institution, least of all, in a school.

Canadians, of all people, should have learned that lesson by now.

Warmest regards for the Christmas season and all that it means to you and yours;

Thomas Kirsop
Morinville, AB

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you for your well wishes Christian, they are returned with all sincerity.

    Regards;

    Thomas Kirsop

  2. Greater St. Albert CATHOLIC School Board. Get over it. And while we’re at it, let’s get Tim Hortons to serve hamburgers.

  3. See how we were being civil in light of the season?

    Now that you’ve got that bit of frustration off your chest allow me to give you some advice;

    Take your concerns and voice them to Mr. Lukaszuk in a letter as I did. Given that you appear to be of a passionate nature ( much like myself actually ) I’d also suggest that you think of a less combative phrasing of your concerns.

    You can CC that letter to the press and should those entities wish to print it they will and you will find yourself engaging the public as I do. Be prepared for three things however, first I find that the odds of print start at about 10% and will go up as you as you get practice, second, be ready for the public response to be very rough when you make an error in approach, and finally expect some of the less moderate amongst your opposition to spend a lot of time trying to turn your stance into something it’s not and then drop in a totally off point reference to Tim Hortons and hamburgers.

    thomas.lukaszuk@gov.ab.ca

    I hope the Christmas season brightens your spirits and finds you and your family happy and healthy.

    Regards;

    Thomas Kirsop

  4. Thomas,

    Another avenue people can take right now is sharing your ideas with Alberta Education and hope that they are looked at when the Education Act is revised.

    http://ideas.education.alberta.ca/engage/have-your-say

    I appreciate all the effort that you have put into your letters and comments. Just remember though, that some of the people that oppose your opinions aren’t putting nearly the effort into theirs, and they are likely just trying to draw you into a war of words, so I wouldn’t always bother wasting your time responding.

    Joel

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