The Holy Post section of the National Post had this: http://life.nationalpost.com/2011/06/04/alberta-catholic-schools-go-secular/ In Donna Hunter’s words: “What a headline”. In fact, I want to pretty much make this a Donna Hunter guest post. As you may or may not have heard there has been some progress in the Morinville “public Catholic” school situation this past week. The good news is that there will be a secular option; the bad news is that it is not run by their local school board and is thus undemocratic, unconstitutional, and still discriminatory. Here is Donna’s take:
Yesterday’s big reveal was extemely disappointing. The only bright note is that Sturgeon School Division was finally announced as the “educational partner” who will provide a secular education option to Morinville residents within the town boundaries. The survey stated the minimum estimate of students who would enroll in a secular public school in Morinville for September 2011 was 272. The full results are on the GSACRD website: www.gsacrd.ab.ca and I attached the break down of the survey results by Pivotal Research Inc. Despite these strong telling numbers GSACRD will not be providing or sharing space for the secular school operated by Sturgeon School Division as their partner. And most importantly all Morinville resident students who register with Sturgeon School Division to receive their rightful secular education will disenfranchise themselves from their democratic rights to vote and run for trustees and are not guaranteed an education from the public school division where their children will be receiving an education. Unacceptable. Secular public education is a right for every Alberta, every Canadian resident. Franchise in your child’s public education system is a right. It’s the law. Tonight residents of Morinville were told they may have one right but not both. Unacceptable. And now with the proposed new Education Act, Minister Hancock is saying more autonomy is being given to local school boards. When he was asked what parents and residents do if they don’t like the actions of their school trustees, Hancock replied they can decide not vote that trustee back in… unless you live in Morinville where democratic education rights don’t apply to residents who register for secular public education. Unacceptable. Donna Hunter
I share Donna’s sentiments here. I’d also like to point out that there is a risk of this issue now going away because at least there is a secular option — albeit an unacceptable discriminatory one. To me, the real elephant in the room is the existence of a “public Catholic” school system to begin with. I suspect GSACRD’s reluctance to follow the law may have to do, in no small part, to them understanding all too well what is at stake here: the legitimacy of a “public Catholic” education in the first place. Obviously, this is not the fight Donna et al were trying to fight. They just want their constitutional right of a secular education for their children in their hometown. But the bigger picture should not be forgotten. Religion divides and discriminates; especially when the separation of church and state is not respected. The Morinville situation is a perfect example of this. Hooray Religion!