Q & A - Choice

Answers to Parents for Choice in Education Questionnaire

I was not comfortable with the "yes" "somewhat" or "no" choices for the questions that were asked on a survey that was sent to me by Parents for Choice in Education. So I did not submit an official response. However, I am happy to share my comments. My first comment is: 

I'm in favour of choice! Generally speaking, parents are in the best place to make choices for their children! 

Trustee Candidate Name: Sara Peden

School District: Calgary – Public (Calgary Board of Education – CBE)

Specific Ward/Area (if applicable): 12 & 14

Trustee Candidate Website: www.sarapeden.ca

 Q1 – Do you agree that all education laws, school board policies and best practices in Alberta should comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Family Law Act when it comes to the right of parents to direct, and be fully informed about, all aspects of their children’s education?  

I think your question is trying to get at whether parents should be notified about students joining clubs, such as GSAs. In my opinion, GSAs aren't part of children's education in this context. I believe that if parents want to know if their children have joined a club at school they are best advised to ask their child. School personnel should not get in between parents and their children regarding conversations about clubs they should join.

Q2 –  Do you agree that the Alberta government should maintain current levels of funding to support a wide range of educational choices, including public, Catholic, independent, faith-based schools, charter and alternative schools, and all forms of home education? 

I would prefer to see education funding increased for all students. I believe every school aged child should be funded, wherever they attend school.

Q3 – Currently, provincial legislation requires that parents be provided notice when a program of study includes subject-matter that deals primarily and explicitly with religion or human sexuality (School Act, section 50.1). Do you agree that this notice and opt-out opportunity should continue to be provided? 

I do not see a need for any change to the School Act regarding this matter, at this time, but parents should not expect that all matters/discussions which may arise related to religion or human sexuality can be predicted by teachers. Notification should be understood to be about planned activities intended to teach about religion or human sexuality. Parents should not expect that their children will never be exposed to any such conversations in public schools.  

Q4 – Do you agree that curriculum development must be transparent and focused on clearly defined and foundational basic skill outcomes in core subject areas? 

Curriculum development is far too complex for these questions to be answered without a great deal more context and specificity about your concerns. I do believe that curriculum should not be explicitly designed as a tool for social engineering or to drive specific beliefs held by only certain segments of our society (if that is the concern expressed by this question).

 Q5 – Do you agree that high quality standardized testing must be used to ensure education accountability is maintained for students who are covering Alberta curriculum? 

There are all kinds of tools that could be captured under the category of high quality standardized tests. Tests are not “valid” or “invalid” they are valid or invalid for specific purposes. Need to be more specific before this question can be answered. I am fully in favour of accountability using objective measures. 

Q6 - When it comes to communicating student progress for Grades 7-12, would you agree that an objective and clear reporting system of percentages and class averages (as opposed to descriptive terms only) is important? 

%ages and class averages have the potential to be just as subjective as qualitative reporting methods (albeit appearing more objective). The issue is much more about whether parents are given information (reporting) that actual provides meaningful reflection of student progress. That is different from the question asked. Generally speaking, however, I think the 4 point scale is not giving parents the level of detail that they prefer and comments are frequently written in language that is not parent friendly.  This must change.

Q7 –  Do you agree parents should be permitted to choose the location, type and style of education (i.e. home-based, language, interest, faith-based, etc.) that best suits their child, free of bureaucratic, union or government coercion? 

Without knowing what you mean by bureaucratic, union or government coercion, I can’t answer this question.  See my general comments about choice and my Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/SaraJPeden/posts/1422459181207625 where I note that I am fully in favour of choice. When there are choices available within the public schools they must be equally accessible to all, not based on ability to pay.

Q8 – In the Spring of 2017 it was revealed that an organization in charge of a government recommended website was linking children to sexually graphic material, resulting in a severe violation of public trust and the endangerment of children. Do you agree those involved should be removed from authority and access to children in Alberta schools?

This question troubles me because it can’t possibly be answered without knowing exactly what is meant by “sexually graphic material”. And yet you have not provided any information which would allow a reasonable person to know if you are trying to inflame emotions or if there is a legitimate concern. Sorry - can't comment. 

 

 Parents are in the best position to make choices and decisions for their children. 

Parents are in the best position to make choices and decisions for their children. 

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