February 24, 2017
An update regarding the private school funding debate

On Thursday, February 23 unions and union interest groups joined forces to attack private school funding. This attack is not going to pass quietly away; it is funded and supported by a number of unions and groups with a vested interest in eliminating funding for school choice. Supporters of independent schools and ECS programs, and more broadly all those who value parental rights and choice in education, need to respond. Following yesterday’s press conference held by the various union and interest groups, CBC Edmonton ran this article.

As supporters of school choice, it is important for each of us to engage in these discussions. In the coming weeks and months, WIC’s leadership is committed to keeping you informed on this topic. Please watch the brief video below that debunks the myths around provincial funding for independent schools.

Thank you for lending your voice in support of Alberta’s private schools.

How to help

  • Calling (780.427.5010) or emailing the Education Minister’s office as well as the Finance Minister’s office (780.415.4855) to express the value that independent schools provide to the public good, and to advocate for continued financial support for choice in education. This doesn’t need to be a long conversation. Simply call the Minister’s staff and say that you wish to inform the Minister that you support funding for independent schools
  • Respectful and informative comments to online newspaper columns on the topic
  • Taking the time to call in to talk radio to express the arguments listed below
  • Communicating with elected officials, especially MLAs, including those in the government caucus
  • Letters to the editor in local newspapers expressing the value and contribution of independent schools
  • Sharing the video below broadly

Myth #1
The taxpayer is subsidizing private education:
In reality, the opposite is true. While the public purse may pay up to around $5,200 towards the education of a student in an independent school, that same child would cost $13,000 or more in the public school system. The independent schools receive no funding for capital or transports, and no funding towards teacher pensions. In the last five years, independent schools have saved Albertan taxpayers over $750 million dollars.

Myth #2
Private schools pick and choose their students:
While certain independent schools may serve specific groups of students based on pedagogical, cultural, religious or other factors, across the spectrum of independent schools, a wide variety of students from a diverse range of cultural and economic backgrounds are served. Similarly, the public system, while serving a broad range of students, may also select specific students for a particular school based on the student’s interest, gender, or educational focus. In fact, the unions are picking students. In their proposal, they acknowledge that independent schools which provide education for students with special needs should continue to receive funding, while other independent schools should not.

Myth #3
Independent schools meet stringent requirements for oversight.
 Their students, parents, and teachers are surveyed on an annual basis. The schools submit Annual Educational Results Reports and Three-Year Plans. They also provide audited financial statements to Alberta Education. Independent schools are also accountable under the Societies Act or the Corporations Act, and are very accountable to their parents.