By Craig Funston
Alberta has a rich history of educational options, ie., various systems of educational models. In fact, it once had a global reputation: Many families overseas (armed forces and missionaries, for starters) used Alberta curriculum. I am not sure if this is the case anymore, at least it is not to the same extent.
Implicit in this history, of course, was parental choice: Parents could choose to send their kids to a brick and mortar school (public or private), or teach them at home.
I am aware that the above is a flawed model, as parents may have a choice of a private school education, but there may not be one available. Or it may be an arts or a sports school, and those aren’t viable for many families. But in the main, these have been options for Albertans for decades.
Last week, we considered (only in passing) two reasons why private schools work, and should continue to work, on behalf of Albertans. One reason is economics (the other academics). In these very tight times for Albertans, private education saves the government money, lots of money.
The way it works is the government funds so much per student, regardless of the system. Without delving into details, the funding formula to place a student in a public desk is over twice as much as it is for a private school student.
If there is a fiscal shortfall, it’s filled in by the parents (tuition and fundraising), which takes a lot of commitment on their part
One factor in resenting private schools is that they seem to be getting the job done for less than half the cost of any public school. I won’t throw figures out at this juncture; you can do (and maybe did) your own homework, as I suggested last week. Public school finding is also public knowledge, so maybe you know already.
And while we’re on the “money” topic, to be a teacher at a local private school, one has to be prepared to take a reduction in pay, as the money is not there. That appeals to a very dedicated staff, especially if the teacher is the chief breadwinner for the family.
In short, private schools, and by extension, home schools, save the government (and that would include you, Mr. And Mrs. Taxpayer) millions of dollars every year. Over five years, it’s millions upon millions. Over ten years, it saves…well, you get the picture.
So, one of those “facts” out there, that we mentioned last week, about private schools costing the government money is a myth: They do not cost the government money; they save the government money—it’s the complete opposite.
In short, shuttering private schools and home education is not at all about money. If money was the issue, the government would do the opposite, namely, encourage even more private schools.
One wonders, then, what the real reason for closing down private schools is. I’m wondering if it has more to do with indoctrination and control.
Faith-based schools work with the principle of absolute truth (which is not only about religion, friends; try scientific laws, as an example). This affects curriculum choice, behaviour, ethics and morality, and family life. This approach, in turn, produces a good citizenry.
In short, a private faith-based education means very good “bang for your buck.” It’s clearly a choice worth investigating–parental choice, that is.
When educational liberty and options, for seemingly academic, religious, and fiscal reasons, are taken away, we should be alarmed.
When we allow others to make our choices for us, we need to push back and sound the alarm—like writing columns about it. Class dismissed.