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“The Education Act brings to life the vision for education that thousands of Albertans shared with us through Inspiring Education,” Education Minister Jeff Johnson said after Bill 3 was introduced in the Legislature. “This legislation is about putting kids first and making our schools safe, welcoming places where diversity is celebrated and bullying is simply not tolerated.”
Bill 3 contains some of the toughest anti-bullying measures anywhere in Canada and acknowledges that all education partners - parents, students, teachers, administrators and trustees - need to work together to make schools hubs of the community.
“The Education Act is actually the first legislation in Canada to formally recognize the role of parents as a child's first and most important teacher,” said Johnson. “As a parent, that is something I am very proud of.”
The legislation will allow for more local decision-making by giving school boards more flexibility, while reinforcing their obligation to work closely with communities and post-secondary institutions. The bill continues to ensure parents have choice about the kind of educational environment that is right for their child, whether it is public, separate, Francophone, private, charter or home education.
“As the name of the legislation suggests, we’ve shifted the focus from the school and the system to the student and his or her education,” Johnson said. “The focus needs to go beyond just the four walls of the school and involve the community in making sure that all students get the best possible education.”
“I want to thank all our education partners and the Albertans who shared their ideas about this important piece of legislation over the past several months,” said Johnson. “Thanks to their feedback, we have taken a strong piece of legislation and made it even stronger.”
The proposed Education Act would replace the School Act of 1988, which currently guides the provision of education in Alberta. If passed, corresponding regulations and policies will be reviewed to ensure a successful transition and to strengthen the education system for the future. Albertans will be consulted for their input into how supporting regulations should be revised.
For more information, visit Alberta Education’s website at www.education.alberta.ca/educationact.
Highlights of Alberta’s proposed new Education Act
Access to education
- Raises the age of mandatory school attendance from 16 to 17 years to encourage more students to complete their high school education.
- Increases the age of access to 21, allowing students more time to graduate and aligning Alberta with the majority of other provinces and jurisdictions.
- Bases residency on where the student lives rather than where the student's parent(s) or guardian(s) live.
Student success and opportunities for learning
- Confirms the Government of Alberta’s commitment to a publicly funded education system that provides choice to families.
- Emphasizes the importance of welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments by defining bullying and requiring boards to develop a student code of conduct that addresses bullying behaviour - including cyber bullying - no matter where or when it occurs.
- Ensures that materials and courses used in schools reflect Alberta’s diversity and heritage and respects the common values and beliefs of Albertans.
Governance and collaboration
- Emphasizes the shared roles and responsibilities of students, parents, school boards and trustees.
- Changes how separate school districts are established, providing more opportunity for public input.
- Allows separate school electors the choice of which school board to vote for or run as trustee in, improving the democratic process while protecting constitutional rights.
- Compels school boards to collaborate with post-secondary institutions and the community to ensure smooth transitions for students from high school to post-secondary education or the workforce.
- Provides criteria around establishment of charter schools, clarifies who may establish them and clarifies that they are required, where applicable, to provide specialized supports and services.
- Gives school boards natural person powers, allowing more discretion to fulfil their responsibilities to the community within the limits placed on what they cannot do instead of what they can do.
- Allows the Minister to direct boards to co-operate on transportation where reasonable.
- Allows the Minister to establish a composite board - comprised of both public and separate school divisions - only at the request of those boards impacted.
Administrative and financial responsibility
- Allows boards to be more responsive to the needs of their community when determining how to best provide safe and appropriate transportation to their students.
- Allows the Minister to make regulations respecting school fees.
- Allows the Minister of Education to cancel or suspend the registration or accreditation of a private school if the financial administration of the school places the learning environment of students at risk.
- Requires boards to establish an audit committee with public members.
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