Calgary private school responds to MLA’s proposed private member’s bill Central assumptions surrounding Kent Hehr’s bill drawn into question.
Calgary Alberta—November 26 2012 – The co-founder of one of Calgary’s most creative private schools has called the fact-finding behind Alberta Liberal Kent Hehr’s private member’s bill regarding private schools “seriously flawed.”
“I understand that Mr. Hehr wants Albertans’ tax dollars to go where they’ll do the most good,” said Diana Stinn of Calgary’s Phoenix Home Education Foundation, “but I fear he’s made some mistaken assumptions about the reasons parents choose private schooling in Alberta.”
Stinn is responding to comments made by Mr. Hehr, member representing the Calgary Buffalo constituency, on CBC Radio’s Calgary Eyeopener program on November 26. In that interview, Hehr called for the provincial government to discontinue funding for private schools in the province. Stinn feels the basic foundations for the private member’s bill, to be filed in the Alberta legislature this week, are based on misconceptions about the role of these institutions in the province.
“For me, the belief that our public education system works for every child in Alberta is fundamentally wrong,” said Stinn. “It’s absolutely true that public schools and public school teachers do a great job for most kids, but assuming that every child learns best in that environment is a bad mistake. Most of the families working with us at Phoenix are devoted to producing lifelong learners with the best chance of success in their future life choices. Pigeonholing every child into the same system isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success for each one of them.”
Stinn goes on to challenge Hehr’s assertion that private schools fragment society by separating children based on wealth or religion. “To compare our school, that works with homeschooling families and charges no tuition fees, with an academy that charges up to $20,000 in upfront fees, or a school that emphasizes a certain cultural focus, is an obvious mistake. Not all private schools operate that way.”
Stinn acknowledges that only five provinces, including Alberta, fund private schooling. “I don’t believe that being in the minority makes Alberta wrong in this regard,” she said. “Alberta has a reputation as a leader in so many fields – maybe other provinces are looking at our academic approach and wondering if they need to re-think their educational diversity.”
“I don’t doubt Mr. Hehr’s sincerity,” Stinn said. “But I don’t believe he’s been given enough insight into what private schools are all about, and he’s not putting much faith in parents’ ability to make sound educational choices for their family. Albertans want more educational choices, not less. I’d love him to come and see what a school like Phoenix has to offer families, so he can get a fuller picture of what private schools really are about.”