1. Our current model seems to work fine. Why change it now?
A single education system will ensure that students interact, engage, and learn in environments that promote acceptance and offer the greatest opportunities.
We need to change now because:
- Communities become divided. We require a system that considers needs—including programming for more cultures, faiths, and other interests—based on today’s demographics.
- Many faith-based schools attract students simply because of their location, and mandates are becoming blurred as schools compete for students.
- Because schools compete for funding, enrollment and locations, and services are duplicated, tax dollars and resources are being diverted away from the classroom.
- As rural populations decline, students are dispersed to smaller schools with fewer educational and extracurricular program options.
2. How much does it cost to publicly fund multiple options?
The current provincial education budget is $8.4 billion, which could escalate as we respond to evolving community needs (e.g., growing diversity). We advocate for streamlining services and putting more funds towards learning and extracurricular programs, not reducing the budget.
3. Does the current model promote discrimination?
In some cases, the current systems discriminate against different groups. For example:
- Many schools (e.g., private, charter and separate) are often only available to those in large urban centres or to those who can afford them.
- In some rural areas, learning and extracurricular activities are inadequate because students are dispersed to many smaller schools that may not have enough students or funding.
- The current system limits funding for and exposure to different faiths and cultures, which decreases understanding of diversity and doesn’t aptly prepare students for life after school.
- Compared to public schools, some separate schools receive additional funding and employ different hiring practices (e.g., limiting teachers because of faith).
4. Why don’t the systems work together, collaboratively?
Current school systems are positioned to compete as they pursue more students for more funding.
5. Doesn’t competition improve education?
When schools systems compete for students, the focus shifts from children to funding. This fragments communities and diverts resources away from education and towards marketing.
6. Could one system offer faith-based education?
Yes. One system doesn’t take away faith-based opportunities from students; rather, it can incorporate more faith-based programming that better reflects Alberta’s evolving demographics.
7. What do other provinces have? Have others moved to a single system?
BC has had one education system since it became a province. Newfoundland/Labrador held a referendum in 1997 when then-Premier Brian Tobin said they could no longer afford to operate a denominational system; they’ve had a single system since 1998. Quebec changed its system from faith-based denominational and linguistic systems to only linguistic separation in 1997.
8. Does changing to one education system require a constitutional change?
A change to the Constitution Act, 1982 is not required to create one inclusive system. Instead, the Alberta Act, 1905 would be amended, which is a provincial decision rather than a federal one.
9. How can I get involved?
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- Share the campaign video or other materials you may have received
- Attend community consultation events as they arise
- Speak to your friends and family. Use your voice in this province to make change
- Contact your local MLA about the issues surrounding this conversation