A. The Issue
Public school education is being challenged, generally for the wrong reasons or in ways that compromise its vitality.
The cost of public school education is challenged, so critics seek to reduce the cost directly or by promoting competition as an indirect cost containment measure.
The universality of public school education is challenged, so critics seek to promote ‘choice’.
The rigidity of public school education is challenged, so critics seek to provide ‘alternatives’, and ‘charters’.
Separate school education is an unusual phenomenon that doesn’t so much challenge public school education as it challenges the concept of a civil democratic society. It, too, is part of the story of this site.
The proposition of this site is that public school education has four unique characteristics (not shared by any other form of education).
- It is universally accessible, as a matter of conviction, and without pre-condition of any kind, and it seeks to be inclusive.
- Inclusion, in the context of the public school system, is both an unalienable right, and an unalienable responsibility.
- Inclusion, in the context of the public school system, is not intended to achieve sameness (homogeneity): it is intended to celebrate uniqueness and the value of diversity.
- Public school education exists to be a deliberate, consistent and aspirational model of a civil democratic community, and by nurturing and educating students within such a model it aims to draw students into good citizenship within ‘the public’ that is the foundation of any civil democratic community.
These characteristics, in turn, make public school education unique and vitally important to the long-term well-being of a civil democratic society. (In other words, public school education is not important because it is mandated by government, or because of compulsory attendance laws, or because it is tax supported. It is not even important because it educates to a program of studies and an instructional curriculum. All of these characteristics can be )
Ultimately, we compromise civil democratic society if our critique of public school education, and our exploration of its future does not focus on these four characteristics. Everything else is secondary.
All of this is explored in greater detail across the site.
B. The Advocates
This site was founded by a former and long-time Minister of Education (Alberta). He has worked and spoken with hundreds of citizens who are concerned about public school education and the impact of public school education on the well-being of the community. These citizens include parents and grandparents, students and teachers, human rights and social justice activists, politicians, community leaders, and others. They have expressed an interest in promoting a wide-ranging and continuing public conversation about public school education, alternatives, and the future of our communities. This site has come into being in response to that interest.