Monday, March 19, 2012

Education: PArental vs Society Rights.

Let me start with a very clear statement.  It is my belief that in the vast majority of cases (95%+) homeschooling is not the best option for the good of the child or for society at large {remembering that part of the basic reason for public education is that it benefits society by creating good citizens--whatever that means}.  I do not think it should be outlawed because there are instances when it is the right (or possibly only) choice but it should be subject to quite stringent guidelines and oversight.  I just wanted to name my bias from the start.

Currently the province of Alberta has a new Education Act before the Legislature.  Within the act is language discussing how the Alberta Human Rights Act interacts with the educational system, including those who choose to home-school.  And this has caused some distuption because parents feel that their rights to decide what their children learn (particularly among the home-schooling crowd but to a lesser extent with parents who want to object to/have their children excused from portions of what is taught at school) are being infringed.  Today there was a protest on the steps of the Legislature Building (story here or here).

Well yes, because heaven forbid we require that every child in the province is taught in a way that upholds the human rights act.  Yes that means you have to teach them that different religious expressions have the right to be expressed and that information about them presented as if they were valid.  Yes that means you have to expose your child to accurate (and potentially life saving), if uncomfortable, information about human sexuality.  Yes it means that your own biases may have to be counterbalanced on some issues.  And yes, in my opinion that is a valid limiting of your parental rights in favour of the general good of society.

AS it happens we are about to go into a provincial election so this could become an election issues, depending on whether the bill passes before dissolution.  Here is the far right party's (IMO misguided) take on it.  When it comes down to it, the province giving in on this issue does not further the cause of education in this province.  In fact it weakens the idea that there are certain things that we believe EVERY student needs to learn.

I truly hope that the government does not give in on this one.  Mind you I also believe that every student in this country, as a condition of receiving his or her high school diploma, should be required to take at least one year of comparative religions/world religions.  I also believe they should be required to travel, by land (probably rail) from coast to coast as a part of their high school education.  SO what do I know.

1 comment:

  1. I am not a "far right" or even "medium right" person. My ex (with whom I remain great friends), has been called, in print, a "left-leaning social engineer." In short, we're "airy-fairy liberals" with three children.

    The first child was homeschooled from grades K-2, and again in grades 7 & 8. Looking back on our decision, the only regrets I have are of not homeschooling him in grade 6. For grades 3 to 5, he attended a publicly funded co-operative school, along with his sister, who was in grades K-2 through those years.

    Many homeschoolers (maybe even the majority of us) homeschool not for religious reasons, but because we don't feel, for one reason or another, that the public school system is the best place for our particular child.

    For children who are different, sometimes homeschooling is the option that works the best. My son was (and remains) an extreme introvert, he is gay, and this was apparent by the time he was two, he is extremely intelligent. The jungle of middle school wasn't going to work for him.

    My daughter is more social, and was able to handle a regular school for those grades, but she doesn't have happy memories of them. She thanks us every once in a while for having her enrolled in the co-operative school during her most formative years.

    We ARE strong supporters of free, quality public education. My children's father is a public school teacher. However, having a homeschooling option available is necessary. Public education is necessarily a "one size fits all" institution--the cost would be prohibitive otherwise. Some children DO need something other than a "regular" school experience in order to thrive.

    The folks on the far right always seem to be the most vocal, but they aren't the only homeschoolers, and probably not even in the majority. But in this case, they are protecting the rights of all of us, even (ironically) those who don't want their gay sons to be the targets of bullies, and who want to be free to teach their kids that reading the bible literally isn't the only way.

    My son, BTW, is now 26, and in his third year at Emmanuel College, and finishing up discernment this fall :)