March 19, 2012

The Alberta government has introduced a new Education Act, Bill 2, that is entering second reading. Our family and others including many Catholic parents, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, Alberta Home Education Association, are greatly concerned about the changes in this act.

This matter affects all Catholics and people of faith in Alberta regardless of their school affiliation, but especially Catholic schools and any religious teaching.

We believe our right and duty as parents will be severely undermined. Of concern is that Bill 2 states in the preamble, that education is a "shared responsibility," the "educational best interest of the child is the paramount consideration" and "parents have the right and responsibility to make informed decisions respecting the education of their children."

These statements do not support the Catholic teaching that parents are the primary educator of the students, delegated to schools as parents deem necessary.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Parents are the principal and first educators of their children" (n. 1653).

The Catechism also states "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable" (n. 2221).

This bill also includes several other areas of concern which undermine parental authority and religious education, but especially section 16:

"Diversity and respect - 16: All courses or programs of study offered and instructional materials used in a school must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act."

The Alberta Human Rights Act has been used in the past to try to prevent religious freedoms.

We call on all Catholics to prayerfully consider the new Education Act, Bill 2, and respond to the Alberta government to protect and preserve Catholic schools and all education in Alberta.

Brad and Cindy Jacobson
Bashaw