Who Says…We Don’t Have A Problem? (Part 2)

Part of the series Who says…
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2015-04-27.

Edmond Burke once stated that all that has to happen for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. We need to do something NOW!

Everything ultimately becomes political. Although we all try to keep our specific allegiances private, we do have a corporate responsibility to keep our politicians and bureaucrats honest. We need to be politically active for our sakes, for our children’s sakes and our grandchildren’s future. This blog is to encourage you to do just that.

Last week I explained how government and bureaucracy worked and that when a bureaucracy is allowed to grow unchecked, it has a tendency to take on a life of its own, grows into a monster and starts devouring the people it is supposed to be serving! I also indicated that one bureaucrat, a Private School Analyst of the Education Department’s Financial Reporting and Accountability branch, has made herself very onerous to private schools in general and home educators in particular. The following is a brief summary of what has taken place in the last few years.

Upon her arrival, this individual took immediate dislike to the idea of having independent contracted home education specialists (ICHES), especially Education Unlimited. From this point on, requirements have become more and more stringent as long-standing rules and regulations that worked well for everyone for a very long time began to be unilaterally reinterpreted to work against private schools, providers and home educators, while being applied retroactively, meaning everyone was guilty of violating yesterday’s rules that were changed today. One such example is that without warning or negotiation, private schools were required to account in a manner that was impossible to properly do going backwards. Had the rule changes been made and the schools given opportunity to know in advance, the accounting change would have been very easy to accommodate. This is akin to a 100 km/hr speed limit suddenly being reduced to 80 km/hr and then sending a speeding ticket to everyone recorded as exceeding the 80 km/hr speed limit over the previous three years!

There was the time she wanted individual student receipts for resource reimbursement when she knew we all accounted for the money on a family basis rather than individual student basis. Then there was the time she insisted on having the schools take over responsibilities that had been contracted out to the independent contracted home education specialists such as Education Unlimited in an effort to eradicate the ICHES.

Time and space constraints prevent me from giving more examples, but this latest, rather perplexing issue needs to be made public. Once again, and without warning or precedence, this particular Private School Analyst of the Department’s Financial Reporting and Accountability branch has determined that any home educated student who has enrolled in any post-secondary level course or program for any reason and under any circumstances will be retroactively disqualified from home education. Once having declared these students to be non-students, she clawed back the entire home education funding from both the parents and the provider, effectively penalizing students for achieving while penalizing the home education provider for doing their job. As if this newly interpreted “home education funding is provided for grades 1-12” as meaning the exclusion of all post-secondary level courses is not bad enough, this was done while the Ministry of Education was ushering in a new Dual Credit Program (http://www.albertadualcredit.ca) into the public high schools which involves public school students taking post-secondary courses while in high school. Even more bizarre is the fact that only students registered in Alberta institutions were penalized, declaring our own post-secondary institutions as second rate to out-of-province institutions since any student registered for a post-secondary course or program outside the province was not penalized. It made no difference whether the student submitted for reimbursement of expenses or not. Simply transitioning to the next level, whether taking a course or starting an apprenticeship, was all that was required to disqualify a student from home education. While the government requires all students to be registered for education up to the age of sixteen, students as young as fourteen were “expelled”!

Would the Alberta government dare to treat an ethnic group as second rate citizens? What about a particular social or religious group? How can the province treat its own students as second class simply for showing initiative and advancing in their educational achievements? Disqualifying students for taking a single post-secondary course or for transitioning from a secondary to a post-secondary level or into an apprenticeship midyear, because they have chosen to take responsibility for their own education, is not only despicable but clearly discriminatory. We should be applauding rather than discouraging students from advancing their education.

However, all is not lost. In spite of the fact that the private schools have mostly dealt with this issue by addressing the symptoms, we have determined to address the problem that created the symptoms in the first place. Now, during this provincial election, is the time to make a lot of noise about being mistreated, bullied, threatened, manipulated and penalized for doing what is expected. The problem is that many of these bureaucrats see themselves as kings and us as servants because the bureaucracy has bloated beyond control. In the last budget, we got to pay more taxes so we could maintain the same level of abuse from our “civil servants”. Are we nuts? This issue is, in fact, not restricted to private schools and home educators but goes beyond. To the best of my knowledge, nobody is happy about the way they are being treated by the Ministry of Education, or most every other ministry for that matter.

Will you join with us in protest? Will you help us to make this discrimination an issue during this election? Are you willing to do whatever you can to contribute to this cause? I hope so, because all you will have to do is let them know you are not in agreement with these perplexing decisions, in word (email) and in deed (voting). Let’s work together to send a clear message to whoever is running in this election that we are no longer willing to be bullied by any part of OUR civil service. But, we must act now!!!

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