Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 1, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Some problems facing Alta. Catholic schoolsIn my travels to school councils and parish councils, I have come to realize that some parents are unaware of the following issues:
1. Alberta education is underfunded! Both of our major boards, Edmonton Public and Edmonton Catholic, Calgary Public also, after very responsible fiscal planning, are running deficits. An increase from the minister of education of one per cent funding is proposed, however an increase of at least 3.5 per cent is what is needed.
The government has a single-minded pursuit to reduce the debt. "You don't pay down your house mortgage at a rate, while the family who resides inside starves." We know that provincial revenues are growing.
Without significantly more money to support the education reforms, the government is simply placing more stress and frustration on teachers, principals, superintendents and especially on our students - larger classes, fewer teachers, less money to cover educational costs for special needs students.
2. Catholic education is unique and its continuance and growth is constitutionally guaranteed in the province of Alberta. We need to stabilize and secure our Catholic jurisdictions, urban and rural. We are so proud of what we have as we continue as parents and staff to build and flourish within our faith community.
We as parents must become passionate about Catholic education, as we prepare ourselves and our children to form a relationship with Jesus Christ in this life, and to enjoy him in our eternal lives. Catholic education has proven that it is successful in terms of academics and life skills, by its superior achievement results, through provincial testing.
3. There is a 28 per cent child poverty rate in Edmonton, which means 42,000 children are disadvantaged, even before they leave their homes each morning. How can these children live and learn and grow, as they deserve? Where is the equity in our social service?
4. Fundraising!! It is the government's mandate to provide adequate resources to school boards throughout the province. Couldn't parents' energies be put to better use in the classrooms, field trips, family time, etc. to ensure our children's educational future?
Catholic bishops in Alberta have challenged us to remove ourselves from bingo and casino halls. The increase we should be receiving in funding should be tied to the annual inflation rate.
As parents, let's take a closer look at our fundraising goals, to determine wants versus needs. How do school programs fare in schools where parents are unable to fundraise? Is this equitable?
5. This is the time for Albertans to ratify and endorse the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which should subsequently be included as part of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
6. The formulas used to determine capacity and space utilization of schools must be adaptable, taking into consideration variable needs.
Increasing demands have been placed on boards to provide classroom space that enable changing curriculum needs and educational/teaching practices to allow for technology, inclusive education, increased parental involvement, paraprofessional and classroom aides, integrated services for children, professional and community support services, etc.
7. Full funding should be reinstated for ECS (Early Childhood Services) to 400 hours, to include costs of operations, maintenance and transportation. Now, only 250 hours are funded per student, the rest of the funding coming from school-based budgeting. Kindergarten programming should be incorporated into the basic education program.
I urge parents to contact by phone, fax or snail mail, their MLAs, Premier Klein and Education Minister Gary Mar, in regards to these major concerns, or other items that are pertinent to their children's education. Now is the time!
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