This past week I had a very conscientious parent give me a shout and ask my opinion about whether or not she should vote for her local school board trustee.
What makes the situation unique is that the parent is a homeschooler!
As a homeschooler, she felt that the Public or Catholic board in her area had little or nothing to do with her. But as I explained, it is absolutely essential that she vote for a good candidate in her ward as local school board trustees have the ability to influence policy and people’s thoughts regarding homeschooling.
I suggested that she called or email each candidate to find out their views on these points:
#1. Do they support homeschooling? Are they aware of their board’s programs or uses for homeschooling?
Over the years, I have sat beside many public teachers and others who absolutely bash homeschooling without knowing that their own board not only has an active homeschool program but happens to be a large provider of online courses, another form of homeschooling.
It is also frustrating that our local catholic board uses home education as a way to remove troubled kids from the classroom and considers it a disciplinary measure not a desirable education choice.
2. What does the candidate think about private schools and the province’s focus on choice?
Do they support private schools? What do they know about private schools? If they suggest that private school get 70% funding, they are ill-informed and proned to believe myth rather that fact! I would not vote for this candidate!
Private schools in this province receive 32% of the funding public schools get. The rest of the money to operate comes from tuitions from parents who also pay taxes towards public education.
The average tuition is $6000 – 7000 a year. The province chips in another ~$4800 a year. This is still significantly less than what public education costs. Not sure how much that is? Ask them!
3. Ask them how much they think it costs to educate a child in this province.
If they answer about $15,000 per average child not including special needs, you have a potentially good candidate who has done some research. But you need to follow it up with the next question . . .
4. What was their board’s budget was last year and what qualifies them to be able to make decisions about how to spend millions of dollars each year?
Seriously, I have spoken to candidates who’s qualifications included having a child in the system and being unemployed. If we want solid decisions about education in his province, we need to start with the top and elect people who are qualified for the job.
And YES, it is critical as a homeschooler you vote and you do your part to select a decent candidate as your local school board trustee, after all you still pay educational taxes that support this system and since 96% of all Alberta students are educated in this manner, we need trustees who protect choice and the rights of the minority – homeschoolers !