03 December 2010

Kudos to Dave King - and his call for a single school system

“We want little Catholic kids to be educated beside little Protestant kids, beside rich kids, poor kids, Indian kids, refugee kids. I believe in our kids being educated together.”

So says Dave King, Minister of Education under Premier Peter Lougheed and former executive director of the Public School Boards' Association of Alberta. Along with Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, Alberta offers the constitutional right of minority faiths to have their own school systems fully funded from the public purse. Or at least it does if the minority is Christian. Other minorities -- Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever -- are denied the right.

King has created a website with an online petition to end the special privilege. He not only believes that in a multicultural society, children of all backgrounds should have the opportunity to mingle, but he is concerned that the privilege discriminates against non-Christian faiths. He also feels that two systems, with the attendant duplication, spreads education resources too thin. As an atheist, I would add a concern about my taxes being used to indoctrinate kids in beliefs I neither share nor respect.

King has a mountain to move. Abolishing the separate school system would require changing the Alberta School Act and, a much bigger challenge, changing the constitution. Nonetheless, Newfoundland and Quebec have done it, so it is doable if the political will is there.

At the moment, it isn't. Current Education Minister Dave Hancock states that he doesn't "see any real public groundswell saying that they don't want to have what we've got now.” King will just have to make the ground swell. You can help by signing the petition here.

1 comment:

  1. The ironic thing about the Ontario situation is that only the Catholic minority has the right to it's own taxpayer funded education system. The Protestant majority does not.

    This because of the absurd assumption when the rules were made that there would never be anything but Catholics and Protestants going to school in Ontario so the public system was the de-facto Protestant system. For awhile anyway.