Ten actions, aside from unification of separate Catholic schools, the government could take today

Ten actions, aside from unification of separate Catholic schools, the government could take today

This post is for you to share with your family and friends who don't necessarily want a referendum to abolish the separate Catholic school system, or don't think that any political party has the courage to act. 

Whatever your long-term goal, there are short-term actions today that must be taken to end the favoritism and privilege afforded only to Roman Catholic’s in Alberta. Remember: 57% of Albertans do not want to see Catholic schools fully-funded by taxpayer dollars and in British Columbia, Catholic families must pay tuition to attend Catholic schools

In no particular order:

  1. Make sure that the first school in any neighbourhood is a public school. Make sure Public schools get their fair share of all modernization, infrastructure dollars. (Sign our public schools first petition here)
  2. Mandate equal employment for teachers and allow non-Catholic teachers equal employment opportunities (Sign our petition here)
  3. Shared buildings: If the first new school isn’t a public school, at least we could end the practice of taxpayer funding half-empty schools across the street from one another. Instead of building or repairing old Catholic schools, mandate shared facilities over the protest of the Alberta Catholic Trustees Association. 
  4. Stop the Catholic school practice of screening out special needs and high needs children to the public school system. In Ponoka, the Public school had 14% special needs students while the Catholic district only had 8%. When they are allowed to select and reject which students they want, that’s not fair, and it further perpetuates the myth that Catholic schools are of higher quality.
  5. Make sure Catholic boards are only funded for Catholic students. A judge in Saskatchewan recently ruled that “Provincial government funding of non-(Catholic) students attending (Catholic) schools is a violation of the state’s duty of religious neutrality under s. 2(a) of the Charter.” and further that it was a violation of equality rights under s. 15(1) of the Charter.”  
  6. Mandate shared busing, bureaucracy, Human Resources, operations, procurement etc. shared pencil ordering etc. 
  7. Stop the hundreds of thousands of dollars in Catholic Church lawsuits funded by taxpayer dollars such as Trinity Western or fighting against the sexual orientation and gender diverse community.
  8. Make sure Catholic students are protected with GSAs and real comprehensive sexual health education. They should be taught the same curriculum and not abstinence-only content.
  9. Whatever your feelings on contraception and abortion, it is abhorrent to use taxpayer funding teach that abortion is the same as the Holocaust or to use taxpayer dollars and educational time to bus students to protests.
  10. Keep education dollars in the classroom and all faith development functions, permeation coordinators or church staff should be paid for by the Catholic church. For Edmonton Catholic alone this could be over $4 million per year in taxpayer savings. We were excited to hear that the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education (MHCB) was seeking funding from the Archdiocese of Calgary, the Catholic Women’s League and Knights of Columbus to fund a chaplain.

(Your suggestion here: what do you think?) Email [email protected]

Here's some additional information identified by former Catholic school Trustee Patricia Grell:

  • $1.9 million is put aside to fund chaplains in ECSD alone. Other school districts have paid permeation staff to spread the Catholic faith. If you multiply $1.9 million in staff across the other 16 Catholic boards, that is an enormous number of Church staff whose salary is paid by the Alberta government. Catholic Chaplains? (Read the Chaplain job description here)
  • Taxpayers shell out $160,000 for a celebration of Catholic faith. Edmonton Catholic church faith day is the annual 2-day faith development day at the Shaw conference center in February costs ECSD approximately $160,000 (the first day is for staff and the second for junior high school students). How much does your local Catholic school spend?
  • Free Catechism curriculum training: The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops developed a new catechism curriculum which is costing ECSD $180,000/grade to update. That's $180,000 × 13 grades= $2.34 million just for ECSD. Again, I don't know how much this costs taxpayers if you look at all 17 Catholic districts in Alberta. Every Catholic school in Canada must use the CCCB program.
  • From 2014 to 2016 ECSD spent $281,751 on sending 99 teachers to Newman Theological College to acquire their Master's in Religious Education. I don't know how many have gone since 2016 or how many attended prior to 2014. And I don't know how many from other Catholic districts go to Newman for the same purpose.
  • To learn how much the conferences cost simply go to the ECSD trustees' quarterly report which is posted online. Catholic Trustee trips to California or England? Catholic faith development conferences?

Other readers sent in the following suggestions:

  • How about creating one school's sports league so kids can play schools in their region — regardless of religion — rather than driving across the city?
  • How about ending mandatory ‘Catholicism’ classes, and especially ending this requirement for graduation
  • How about united student ceremonies to honour the victims of residential schools … or veterans on Nov. 11?
  • How about joint planning sessions for new schools with the province and municipalities?
  • How about a ‘Meet the Superintendent’ night so all taxpayers have an opportunity to ask public questions related to the expenditure of millions of dollars
  • Keep the Bishop away from public health decisions. (Medicine Hat Catholic School Board is consulting the Bishop for vaccination decisions)

Any initiative such as motions, blog posts, campaigns, and gets Albertans informed are a step towards a better tomorrow for public school families. Keep the conversation going and share this post.

If you are a new reader or just looking for a refresher on the many issues of separate Catholic school boards, here are four insightful reference articles that have recently been published:

David King’s 6 Objections to Separate School Educationhttp://www.ouridea.ca/objection

The Myth of “Permeation”http://www.ouridea.ca/permeation

Former Catholic Trustee Patricia Grell Calls for one public systemhttp://www.ouridea.ca/more_thoughts_on_a_letter_to_the_electors_tax_payers_of_alberta

Alberta Views: The arguments against Catholic Public Schools are increasingly hard to ignorehttps://albertaviews.ca/beyond-belief/

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