Letter: Open letter to Minister of Education

Mr. Hancock:

I received this public notice in the Morinville Free Press today for the GSACRD contracted Pivotal Survey. I attached it to this email. I am upset, but not surprised. I am one of the parents who attended the April 11th meeting with GSACRD concerning the Morinville census, now downsized to a survey, and wanted to be a part of the discussion with an agreed upon, impartial count of residents. We, the parents who attended, were told ‘no’. GSACRD has already contracted Pivotal Research and we will not be permitted to speak on our behalf directly. Our input is to be interpreted by GSACRD and forwarded by GSACRD to Pivotal Research. The statement below reflects the bias of GSACRD and lack of Morinville parent representation of what has been asked for and denied.

Here is the preamble for the GSACRD advertisement in the Morinville Free Press:

“In response to a request for an education option in the community that does not include any religious instruction, references, symbols or celebrations, GSACRD has contracted Pivotal Research Inc. to conduct an impartial, non-biased survey to determine the level of interest and support.”

1) The parent delegation asked for a public education like that of other public schools in Alberta as written in the Constitution. The school day may be opened with the Lord’s Prayer and the day may end with 30 minutes of Religious instruction for those who wish it (opt-in). To say we have requested that our children’s education does not include ANY religious instruction, references, symbols or celebrations is absolutely FALSE.

-I want the religion that is written in the Constitution being opt-in verses GSACRD’s mandatory Catholic permeation.

-I want our Christmas concert as other Public school have them with songs like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer not an hour long concert on the Catholic Jesus.

-Opt-in Religion class would be the place for religious instruction and symbols.

2) We do not need to determine interest as the parent delegation has formally requested it. We need to have a formal registration for public non-denominational option.

3) How can we get hard numbers if only a sample survey of ‘support’ is being conducted?

All we, as members of the Morinville parent delegation, have ever wanted was a public school with the Alberta Public Curriculum not the Separate Catholic version of that Curriculum.

We need an impartial party to administer this, not GSACRD! They are biased and wish to remain Catholic Public to the exclusion of public. If one calls themselves Catholic and Public then both educations must be available not just Catholic.

We need someone to work with both of the parties involved and not have filtered representation by GSACRD. The parents of Morinville need representation and help, we are being falsely represented through this ad and poorly treated with the constant denial of our request.

If GSACRD cannot be a Public Division then maybe they should cease to be our division. Sturgeon School Division is a public division and a willing division. I think it is time to rezone Morinville and then a true Separate school could form if residents so desire it.

Carol Sparks

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  1. If I’m reading the notice right GSACRD will be doing both the Census/Survey of all parents with children currently attending Morinville schools as well as a random survey of 400 Morinville households. Wouldn’t that be enough to achieve a good idea of where support for this issue lies? Maybe I misunderstood but isn’t this more than they had originally said they would do?

    • Just to clarify – GSACRD is not doing the survey, Pivotal Research is. They are the same company contracted to do Morinville’s census. They will be surveying 1,700 Morinville families with children currently in GSACRD schools and 400 random households by telephone.

      It is pivotal’s belief that the 400 random households is a statistically significant number for a sampling. That is to say significant enough that 4,000 answers would yield the same or similar results to 400.

      The cost of both is around $30,000.

      That is neither a defense or criticism of what is being done. Merely pointing out some additional background from other articles we’ve done on the subject.

  2. Christmas as a religious celebration is not sole provenance of the Roman Catholic Church.

    December as a time of celebration religiously, commercially or as a time for family, is not even sole provenance of Christianity.

    In specific answer to your question as to the origin of both the term and the time frame I point you to;


    For the last two years I have celebrated Ramadan with a coworker because he was away from his family during that time frame. I am not muslim, nor did he request that I convert to Islam to eat with him at work after sunset. It did not impact the enjoyment or companionship either one of us experienced.

    Now, that said, this all still has absolutely nothing to do with how a public school is to be run with respect to legislation or rights.


    Thomas Kirsop

  3. As a taxpayer in Morinville, I believe that I, and every other taxpayer in Morinville, have a right to decide what type of school system is being offered in Morinville. This is not just for those who presently have children in the system. If I am not allowed to vote on what type of schooling is offered, then I should not have to pay education taxes.

  4. Will

    I agree. All residents of the community should have a voice in the matter. I encourage you and anyone else who feels poorly represented to contact the Minister of Education with your concerns.


    I have found that writing open letters cc’d to press contacts pretty much results in a rapid response. Sad that it comes to that but it is what it is.


    Thomas Kirsop

  5. @Will.

    It is also worth mentioning that under the current funding model in Alberta it is irrelevant where you want you tax dollars to go. While there are many factors that go into how much funding goes to each child, including transportation costs,geographic socio-economic status ect. each child is provided with an equal base amount of education dollars. As I’m sure that you are aware most municipalities give it’s electorate the “choice” to send their education funding to either the public or the Catholic System. However since the funding is all equalized anyway the obvious question is, why bother having taxpayers declare their preference at all? I’ve searched for an answer to this and found nothing. The only reason that I can think of would be is to maintain the illusion that Catholics pay for Catholic schools, somehow making the discriminatory nature of Education Funding in Alberta OK.(only 30% of education funding comes from Property taxes). Why does the government of Alberta provide full education funding for two domination’s (Catholic and Protestant) and view all other religions as second class, regardless of demand for such funding in any particular area? Sounds pretty un-Canadian to me.

  6. @ Kim and those who appose our request for a secular school:I do not understand the personal gain people have of denying a community the right to a regular public school. You must realize the the world is not all Catholics and in FACT here in Morinville we have MANY other churches besides the 1 Catholic Church. This does not mean that we should all have to go to a Catholic school or that we even celebrate Christmas the same way you do.And just becasue we want a Public School certainly does NOT mean we are all atheists or heathens….we are of OTHER religions and would like to teach our kids about OUR religion in OUR churches.We are also not telling anyone to take away all the Catholic schools, all we are asking for is 1 Public school,that’s all.Keep your Catholic Schools and send your children but I should have a choice of where to send mine and how I want Religion taught to my kids. So research the Churches we have here in Morinville and put yourself in their shoes and picture yourself being them and having to send your kids to a school that teaches them a religion that is not yours.Keep in mind that we also have a large population of members from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses that attend church in St.Albert.

    Be a good Christian and be kind to your community. Open up your ears and your minds and think outside the box. Welcome to the 2st Century

  7. Thanks Thomas, I have emailed minister Hancock 2 weeks ago on this subject and have not received a response. today I will re-forward that email as well as cc it to various media outlets. Thank you for that information. It is sad that it takes the media to push our elected officials to do their job.
    Thank you again for the information.

  8. Tina, I am in the shoes of a parent who’s kids get taught a religion not my own at school. I am NOT a Catholic. I rather like the fact that my kids get exposure to the religion that I would never provide them with in my own home. While I can understand your point of view I am entirely satisfied with the schools as they are now and would be happy to see them continue as is.

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