I was really excited to be attending a session at the legislature on Wednesday, November 30th, as I haven’t even been in the building since I was a child. I was even more excited because I, as one of the Morinville parents fighting for public education, was asked to attend and be formally introduced to the house by Education Critic Kent Hehr. Unfortunately, Minister Lukaszuk completely dodged the question from the opposition about when this issue will be solved, and when he might choose to include parents in the discussion. He spoke frequently of choice. We are not concerned with choice. We are not a special interest group. We are not seeking private, charter or alternative education. We are asking for our basic rights as Canadians to have access to a genuine public school without religious permeation in our community, with the right to vote for a genuine public board who will represent us. We are still waiting for the promised modulars to arrive, and now we may see them in January. It is getting colder outside, and without a gymnasium the students will have to spend all their school hours in their classrooms. Sturgeon School Division has shown creativity in the classroom set up in their division office conference rooms and the Roman Catholic Parish Hall, but it is a poor space for the physical activity all other Morinville students have within the four gymnasiums in our four public schools in Morinville to which my child has no access. These same classrooms now double as a library, computer lab, and art room and gymnasium.
The meeting on November 24th between Minister Lukaszuk and the three school boards was held behind closed doors, and we, as parents who made the formal appeal to the Minister of Education, were not invited. We only learned of the meeting at all through the media. I am aware that some of the parents did wait outside the meeting in the rotunda of the Legislature to try to get some answers, but received none. The “picnic” Minister Lukaszuk referenced in Question Period on November 30 was simply parents trying to keep their kids happy while waiting for the meeting to let out. The Minister joined the children and introduced himself, but by no means did he invite parents into the conversation with the school boards, or give any indication of what was discussed in the meeting.
In my opinion, the idea that three school boards can come up with a solution to a problem that rests completely on one of them is ridiculous. The only board changing the rules here is Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division, by refusing to offer true public education as is their obligation as a public school board. As long as GSACRD is the resident public school board in Morinville, making deals and negotiations with other boards is pointless, as GSACRD will always have the final say as to what happens in their jurisdiction. The current arrangement of contracting Sturgeon School Division to provide non-resident programming without infrastructure does not come close to being an acceptable solution to the issue. I implore you to justly consider the situation that our children are in because of the lack of genuine public education for all Albertans. This issue cannot and should not be solved on a local level, as Mr. Lukaszuk suggests, as our local and resident public school board seems determined to continue to violate their obligation under Alberta law. The half-truths and bits of information begrudgingly released to me by politicians and GSACRD have left me with no other conclusion.
I anxiously await your reply,