This morning organized labor, and labor interest groups put forward a proposal to attack parental choice in education. This misguided proposal inaccurately states that defunding private schools would save money which could be reallocated to support public education.
The Association of Independent Schools and Colleges in Alberta strongly rejects this proposal, and the flawed premise it is based on. Independent schools serve the public good. Collectively the independent schools and early childhood service programs provide a quality education to 34,000 Albertan children. And they do so at a considerable cost savings to Albertans.
In the last 5 years alone it is estimated that independent schools have saved tax payers over $750,000,000.00.
The math is quite simple. All Albertans pay taxes which go into the ‘public purse’. From these taxpayer dollars, an average of $5200 goes towards funding a child’s education in an independent school, whereas a public school education costs the tax payer around $13,000/child. This significant difference is due to the fact that children in independent schools receive a reduced educational grant, and there is no funding provided for capital costs, transportation, or teacher pensions.
Thankfully, the Alberta government has repeatedly recognized the value of equitable and predictable funding for independent schools. Within the past year Education Minister Eggen stated in the Alberta Legislature that “I do recognize that I always have to keep repeating messaging around all of the things that we do. I mean, we can’t just say it once – we’re going to say it every day – and, you know, I say it very often. Again, the best way to measure a government is to judge them on their actions. My feedback from independent schools associations, charters, and so forth is again, “Thank you for funding,” as we have, “our public, separate, and francophone schools for enrolment.” It’s definitely a big deal out there, and I’ve given them the reassurance that they can start planning on a longer basis, that we will continue to do that so that they can make long-term plans for their budgets and so forth, which I think is very productive as well”. (Page 785 Alberta Hansard, May 2, 2016)
Alberta has an excellent system of education, which provides a range of choice as is appropriate in a pluralistic society. Within the public system there is a wide array of school programing. Furthermore there is the Catholic/Separate system, Francophone schools, Charter schools, Independent schools and parents who choose to home educate. Within the independent schools there are choices as well: schools for students with designated learning needs, or which provide a distinct cultural, religious, or pedagogical perspective. Instead of attacking and undermining the quality of education for some children, we should celebrate and further enhance the collaborative approach that has allowed Albertan children to experience significant success.
AISCA encourages Albertans to be further informed about the public good that independent schools provide by watching this short video https://youtu.be/VRusRMLmnZk or by visiting our website at www.aisca.ab.ca.