Part of the series Wrapping Up 2015-16
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2016-05-30.
A rather lengthy summary of this year’s Education Unlimited activities.
We are generally all ignorant of what is actually happening around us. This ignorance can either be perpetuated and capitalized upon or fixed to empower the masses. It is time to enlighten home educators who have generally been kept in the dark respecting what is occurring within their community. (Ephesians 4: 11-16)
Bible Reference: Eph 4: 1-24
Wow! What an incredible year this has been, especially in light of the fact that the Morinville Christian School (MCS), The Home Education Exchange (THEE) and MCS’s former principal gave the appearance of collaborating to kill the EU ministry, destroy the EU organization and steal the students that neither agency had done a thing for, essentially forcing the EU parents to decide whether to stay with MCS or move their children to another school, the Harvest Baptist Academy. After overwhelmingly failing in their apparent hostile take over attempt, another agency, ROOTS, joined MCS to form a rather polygamous union that was sure to rattle the government, who could not comprehend how large populations of students could be moved at will to another school!
Think about this from the government’s perspective. When has an entire school ever moved from one community to another? In the real world, such craziness would never happen but when Independent Contracted Home Education Specialists (ICHES is a term invented to give credibility to organizations that have no place in the government’s world) start moving from one private school to another, both private schools and ICHESs are legitimately called into question. Counting Families Learning Together’s move from the Lighthouse Christian Academy to the Red Deer Catholic system a few years ago, ten agencies (private schools and ICHESs) have been involved in the greatest transfer of students from one school community to another ever to have occurred in the history of education in this province. I cannot be sure that the massive clawbacks that occurred this year are directly related to this craziness, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the likelihood of the perpetrators of these very large transfers of students, considering the overall implications of these moves for the Christian home education community, is very small.
What could have been the primary motivation behind this insanity? Student welfare? Or is it more likely to be school and ICHES welfare? Were parents consulted before their children were unilaterally transferred to another school in another community? Don’t the parents have the last say as to where they want their children registered? How can any agency, let alone ones that claim a Christian faith, so brazenly ignore parental authority and trade in students as though they were a commodity? No wonder the government is concerned, as even the secular world would find such manipulation of students offensive. Please understand that while being forced out of MCS after sixteen years of association, EU continued to honour the authority of parents by clearly communicating with our parents both by personal phone call and by letter, what their options were and not what we had decided for them!
Speaking of parental authority, another thing I did was bring to light the news about the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA), our provincial organization supposedly representing the home educators of this province, having sent the Minister of Education a letter offering a form of evaluation and reporting on home educated student progress. Did you know that the organization created to defend home education has now grown to the point where it feels it has the “authority” to tell all parents, facilitators and schools how they will conduct the evaluations of student progress? How about the fact that one “ICHES with a large number of students”, arrogantly assuming to be speaking not only on behalf of all the parents associated with them but for every home educating parent of the province, has volunteered to conduct a pilot program of this newly minted evaluation process? When were the parents and providers consulted about this? Were you consulted before AHEA and the ICHES with a large number of students decided to violate parental authority to appease a ruling that had not actually been made? This unprecedented move strips parents of their authority and validates the Minister’s false claim to having authority over parents in the training of children. If it is a matter of having to answer for the taxpayer funds that private and home education are receiving (remember that we are taxpayers too), then a simple solution is to refuse the funds, if and when it comes with an obligation for evaluation. Given that choice, most parents would likely have opted out of the funding in favour of freedom, but agencies that would cease to exist if the funding was to be discontinued are likely to have a bit of a different perspective on this matter! When parental authority over their children is being violated by agencies trading in students and others willing to sacrifice it on their altar of survival, we don’t really need external enemies to destroy us!
Besides being unbelievably busy making the myriad of adjustments that came along with working with a new school after sixteen years with MCS, Education Unlimited had to make some serious changes in order to completely separate ourselves from the diminishing crowd of ever more compromising ICHESs. We morphed from being an ICHES under MCS into being a highly developed digital management system for traditional home education. Funny how things go, isn’t it? Others may have meant evil for EU, but God used this opportunity (it sure did not feel like an opportunity at first!) for good as we developed not only our web site (www.educatiounlimited.ca) to better serve our school and home education community, but another web site (www.leogaumont.com) which is sure to minister to Christian home educators around the world.
What can be described as the craziest, most nonsensical year we have ever experienced within the home education community was made even more bizarre by the unexpected and unprecedented moves by the Department of Education. Aside from having to wait until January before receiving any funding, our school (Harvest Baptist Academy) underwent three intensive audits this year, likely brought about by their sudden and overwhelming increase of students when having thrown our families a life line and an alternative to MCS. Our new management system proved itself to be outstanding as we seamlessly provided up to date and accurate information in keeping with all rules and requirements. Add to that, a pile of issues like Bill 10, Motion 504, public pressure to defund private schools, the retroactive reinterpretation of the proper use of taxpayer funds in home education, along with an overall near impossible intransigence of the self-declared infallibility of government bureaucrats, and you have a picture of what this past year has been like. It is likely that most home educators of the province were more aware of these last events as they involved a bit more media coverage and changes to funding expectations.
In preparation for these final blogs, I reviewed all the blogs that I have written this year. I was pleased by the outcome and truly thankful for the Holy Spirit’s direction as many times, even I was impressed with what had been said… and I am the one who said it! I encourage you all to start back in September and read through the year. You will get a glimpse of my heart and how it passionately beats for the Christian home education community, the authority of parents and true Christian education. It is sure to encourage you. I nearly never hear from anyone and would dearly love to know not only how these blogs are doing but what you may want to see in the future. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know how these blogs have affected you this year.
I want to end by thanking Brian Coldwell, the chairman of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society, the operators of the Harvest Baptist Academy and all the staff of HBA for giving us a reason to carry on. It has been a great pleasure to have been able to have fellow defenders of Christian education stand beside us as we advance and defend parental authority in education. Thank you, HBA.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for encouraging us, not only in word, but by being cooperative during these unprecedented times of change, both from without and within this ministry. We may have experienced bell ringing and death defying events, along with some exhilarating things as well, yet we have never lost our focus. We exist to serve our Lord, our schools and families, but most importantly we desire to be of service to our parents as they reclaim their proper authority for the welfare of their children by training their hearts to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strengths to become servants of the Most High God.
God bless you all. Lord willing, I will “blog” you again in the fall. Please keep us in prayer.
Have a great summer!