I would like to thank the Stettler Independent for continuing to take an avid interest in reporting on education issues such as the recent introduction of Bill 18, a comprehensive re-write of the current School Act. However, I feel compelled to write to correct one small bit of misinformation conveyed by Ms. Bertrand’s story on the new Education Act in your May 4 issue.
A reader will come away from reading the article believing that the new legislation would allow Alberta residents to “vote for any school board election and to run as trustees for any school board, regardless of their religion.” Certainly it is the case that Bill 18 does nothing of the sort.
Section 71(4) of Bill 18 clearly states that a RESIDENT OF A SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT (my emphasis) may vote or be nominated as candidate in either a Public School or Separate School election, but not both. Bill 18 does not extend this same right to residents of public school districts. Essentially, under the proposed Education Act, Catholic voters will be able to choose whether to exercise their democratic rights in either school system while other Albertans will only be able to participate in the public school system.
This proposal not only raises serious issues of fairness, but one must also question whether it doesn’t simply exacerbate the inequality of rights and perceived unfairness that permeates our constitutionally inherited side-by-side, public/separate education system. In my opinion this is a question Albertans, and particularly school board trustees, will need to carefully consider before supporting this provision in Bill18.