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Every Good Law Starts with a Good Preamble

January 21, 2010

Although the School Act Review process is officially behind the closed doors of the Alberta Education, members of the PSBAA are continuing to develop proposals for the Minister’s  consideration during the next round of public consultation.

The underpinnings of any important legislation should be clearly stated as a preamble so that those referencing the Act can have a clear understanding of the context and intentions of the provincial government at the time of enactment.

To that end, the PSBAA is developing a draft preamble. The following proposed Whereas clauses are under consideration by the members of the Association.

Members of the internal educational community and the broader community – the public — are invited to give consideration to these clauses and provide feedback.  The Association welcomes feedback, and you may want to copy other provincial associations with your feedeback.

Members of the Legislative Assembly – especially the Minister of Education — would also welcome feedback.  To reach them click here. Choose the M.L.A. you want to reach, and get the contact information.  The link is on the upper left hand corner of the biography.

Any new education Act should be founded upon the community’s (the public’s) current beliefs and understandings about roles, responsibilities, accountability and commitments to public school education.

The PSBAA hopes to engage all Albertans in the discussion to determine what the preamble to new School Act legislation should include. We have already received suggested changes from some of our members.

Please let us know how these draft Whereas clauses might be improved or if they accurately reflect what Albertans believe is the platform for public school education in Alberta.

Possible “Whereas clauses” for the School Act (or new school legislation)

(The purpose of the first whereas clause is to make it clear that education is an essential public good, for citizens and for the community.  This is why legislation is vital.)

# 1 Whereas excellent education for each and every person is the primary basis for free and effective citizens and for a strong and enduring democratic community, and

(The purpose of the second clause is to make it clear that parents have a fundamental right to be involved in the education of their children.  At the same time, children are not chattels of their parents:  the right of parents has to be exercised with the best interests of the child in mind.)

#2 Whereas parents have a right and responsibility to make informed decisions respecting the education of each of their children, bearing in mind the best interests of each child, and

(The purpose of the third clause is to reassure the provincial government, and others, that the exclusive constitutional authority of the provincial government is acknowledged:  at the same time, the statement is made that the provincial government “chooses” to regard the government of community as being in two parts, provincial and local”)

#3 Whereas in Alberta the Legislature of Alberta has exclusive constitutional jurisdiction to make laws respecting education and chooses to regard the government of community as being in two parts, provincial and local; and,

(The purpose of the fourth clause is to make clear that, in providing for education in the province, public school education is first and foremost, and public school education has three vital characteristics:  it is inclusive, it is a deliberate model of a civil democratic community, and it is substantially governed locally in every community by people who are locally elected.)

#4 Whereas it is in the public interest and a matter of important public policy to provide public school education that is inclusive, a deliberate model of a civil democratic community and substantially governed locally in every community throughout Alberta by people who are locally elected, and

(The purpose of the fifth clause is to make it clear that public school education exists to serve, equally, the student and the community.)

#5 Whereas public school education focuses on the student in the context of the community, and public school education exists to serve, equally, the potential of the student and the community, and

(The purpose of the sixth clause is to acknowledge the constitutional provisions for separate and francophone education.)

#6 Whereas, notwithstanding its primary commitment to public school education, Alberta acknowledges and upholds the provisions of the Constitution that allow and enable separate and francophone education, and

(The purpose of the seventh clause is to remind all readers that separate school education is a civil authority, not a parochial institution.  Such a clause would reassure separate and francophone supporters that the PSBAA is not using the review of the School Act to advance a confrontational agenda.)

#7 Whereas public school education , separate school education, and francophone school education are all provided under the auspices of a civil education authority, and

(The purpose of the eighth clause is to reassure the provincial government that the Association acknowledges their public policy position and their constitutional authority to allow private, charter and home schooling.)

#8 Whereas Alberta also allows and enables private education, including, but not limited to, charter schools, private schools, and home schooling

Therefore…

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