By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Edmonton – After a series of consultations with school boards, education stakeholders and Albertans, the province tabled and gave first reading to the Education Act Tuesday afternoon.
“Education and the preparation of Alberta children for the future and the future of this province is a priority for this government,” Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said in the Alberta Legislature Tuesday afternoon, adding he was pleased to see the gallery full with a number of educational partners. “The duties and demands placed on our education system today extend far beyond those of the late 1980s when the School Act was introduced.”
The updated Act emphasizes education as a shared responsibility between all education partners, and one that takes place in diverse learning environments with each student reaching their own potential.
In presenting Bill 2 – the Education Act – Lukaszuk said education is fundamental to a democratic and civil society and was a necessary component to youth developing to their potential. Lukaszuk said the province’s understanding of learning concepts has grown and been enhanced through extensive conversations Albertans have had with the government on educational matters over the past few years. “Albertans take great pride in our education system and they want to ensure that it continues to be world class,” Lukaszuk said. “Our first obligation is to make sure that all decisions are student centered, and that all decisions relate to learning and education.”
Lukaszuk said two important elements of the new Act that came out of public consultations was the student’s entitlement to welcoming, caring, respectful and safe environments, and that education is a shared responsibility among school boards, classroom staff, parents, students and the community at large. “As a result we have made a good piece of legislation even better,” Lukaszuk said before having his time cut by Speaker Ken Kowalski.
If passed, the Education Act will replace the School Act of 1988, the document currently governing education in the province.
The province says new Act will allow school boards to decide for themselves how to work co-operatively with other organizations to develop students who are engaged, ethical, and entrepreneurial, and who become life-long learners while contributing to the economic and social wellbeing of their communities.
Changes to the Act include increasing the minimum age a student may leave school from 16 to 17 in the hopes more Alberta youth will complete high school. Emphasis has been put on combating bullying in schools, and a week in November will be dedicated to anti-bullying awareness.
The proposed ACT would also eliminate the existing ward system, simplifying the language referring to public and separate school board governance structures. It will allow boards a greater opportunity to determine wards and electoral sub-divisions. It is hoped the change will reduce electoral underrepresentation in some divisions.
A complete list of changes between the Education Act and Schools Act can be found online at http://www.education.alberta.ca/department/policy/education-act/faq/whatchanged.aspx.
The proposed Education Act is available online at http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/bills/bill/legislature_27/session_5/20120207_bill-002.pdf
No word on Morinville issue Tuesday
Lukaszuk had previously indicated he would reveal the local solution the three school boards had developed to address issues related specifically to education in Morinville shortly after the Education act was tabled, and that the resolution required a slight modification to legislation. Those changes, whatever they might be, were not disclosed during Tuesday’s session in the Legislature.