June 25th, 2017

Public money should only be used for secular education


By Letter to the Editor on January 12, 2017.

Re: Deal reached in home school dispute:

This situation is a crystal-clear example of why public education should be strictly secular, as it currently is in most of Canada, even in uber-Catholic Quebec. The fact that this particular religious cult in Alberta (unfortunately there is a vast array to choose from) has been able to use a lot of money earmarked for important public education, for this long (decades!) without being reined in proves that religious freedom has gone way too far here, and could also be seen to be another shining example of “give them an inch …”

The shocking complacency of the long-standing Conservative government shows that it has clearly been hamstrung by the defining importance of religion within its own political philosophy and that of its base, to the extent that Alberta conservatism is unique, almost qualifying as a religion in and of itself. The blatant lack of fiscal responsibility in this case (oddly atypical) is surpassed only by the callous disregard for all the students who deserve to have an education geared toward the increasing importance of critical thinking rather than the unabashed indoctrination supplied so righteously and defiantly by the Trinity Christian School Association. Their shockingly egregious behaviour belies the judge’s inappropriate trivialization when he said, “Two reasonable people could have worked this out.”

Maybe. But that was obviously not the case here, on either side. Good for the NDP to take this mess on, especially in this political climate where religion gets far more traction than makes sense. What does make sense is this: “Don’t pray in my school and I won’t think in your church.”

Patricia Pargeter

Lethbridge

13 Responses to “Public money should only be used for secular education”

  1. John P Nightingale says:

    Yes!!!

  2. Incal says:

    Public money shouldn’t be a pool for disconnected policy-makers to play in. And avowed religion-haters don’t get to speak for all the rest of us. The solution to Alberta’s moribund schooling is to increase competition: get more providers in the field, and let merit sort them out. No more wanna-be monopolists.

    Nightingale and plushie just had their prejudices stroked. Given the shoddiness of Pargeter’s letter, it’s actually sort of a let-down to see how easily pleased they are.

  3. biff says:

    this is not about religion hating, incal. simple point: schools are for enquiry, for awaking and opening up people to the world at large; public monies must not be used for specific religious indoctrination – that is what places of worship are for.
    as for incal’s add on that we use merit and competition in education, our world’s experience with market economy should be enough to shut that one down. while competition does sometimes bring out the best, it too often champions cheating, sleaze, manipulation, self-service and corruption.
    where our schools further need a makeover is to move away from elitism. i believe we need more human contact and positive interactions and less face to a digital device cop out. most important, we need to broaden what we value as skills in the school setting. rather than trumpeting academia as the sole barometer, there needs to be more learning around trades and essential life skills. it only makes sense: most people are not going to university, they are going to be the builders, movers, fixers – the brightest will be able to create and problem solve with their actions. rather than continue to devalue these skill sets, schools need to provide opportunities for all to experience and develop basic trades skills and knowledge. to that end, teachers should not come only from academic training, but from the trades. how many times has a student asked a question similar to: “why do we need to learn to factor binomials?” the best answer i have been able to come up with is: so someone can have a job teaching it.

  4. Michael Breukelman says:

    Actually, schools are there too teach children to look at the world through a specific worldview. Public schools teach children to look through a secular worldview; private schools teach them to look through a Christian or other religious worldview. And the main reason people go to church is to worship; not simply to learn. Churches can’t be expected to replace schools as places of learning simply because the sheer complexity and awesomeness of this universe simply would be too much for a church all by itself to teach about. It should also be noted that although part of public money goes to fund private schools even if the secular public doesn’t agree with what’s being taught in those schools, private school supporters also pay to the public system through their taxes even though they disagree with (much of) what is taught in the public system. And they do this all while at the same time sacrificing for their own private schools, thereby giving the government and the general public a big break. They take a load off the public system by teaching their own children. They are not a burden to the general public; they are a break or blessing to them! Why shouldn’t they be helped out?

    Next, last I checked, our society was still one in which we are all able to publicly express and practice our religious views. Am I correct, or am I way out to lunch? Assuming I’m correct, why is society slowly but surely trying to push the private sector out of the picture in spite of the huge blessing they have been for this province. If the general public has a right to educate their children with a secular worldview (secularism also being a religion) and be funded for it, why can’t the private school supporters be allowed to educate their children through a Christian worldview and be funded for it?

    Let me close by expressing general agreement with the third paragraph of biff’s letter. I agree, there is much more to life than academia and elitism. Carpenters, mechanics, farmers, plumbers…. you name it, are needed just as much as doctors, lawyers, professors and teachers. The latter need the former just as much (if not more) than the former needs the latter. I can site many examples of academia not having a single practical bone in their body. Schools need to be better equipped to teach in the trades as well. Many more kids would have found their way through school if they had been given more opportunities to ply themselves in the trades rather than being compelled to go the academic or professional route. After all, not everyone was made to be academic. Many people were made to use their hands too. Thank you.

    Mike B.
    Coaldale

    • snoutspot4 says:

      Mike B. Thank you for providing the very evidence that universal educational standards need to be applied. I am wondering how old you are if the best you can do in defence of your position is to pen this paragraph “Actually, schools are there too teach children to look at the world through a specific worldview. Public schools teach children to look through a secular worldview; private schools teach them to look through a Christian or other religious worldview. And the main reason people go to church is to worship; not simply to learn. Churches can’t be expected to replace schools as places of learning simply because the sheer complexity and awesomeness of this universe simply would be too much for a church all by itself to teach about. “

    • Fescue says:

      Secularism is a religion? Who knew!

      And I’m confused, and what topics are being taught in public school that are objectionable? Math, literature, physics, biology?

    • John P Nightingale says:

      “Secularism” is a religion??
      Not so MB. By definition, it is the separation of church and state . OR, “not connected with religious or spiritual matters” (OED). Since “churches ” preach a particular faith (ANY faith), secularism is clearly NOT a religion…..But nice try!

  5. manby says:

    Religion taught in schools? Should it not be the history of religion? All religions? Surely it should not be called seminary ? There are some schools in southern Alberta that I have heard use this term. In these schools are these students here taught about all religions? Who teaches these classes?

  6. John P Nightingale says:

    MH.You have contributed to the letters columns in the past – as indeed I have. Your views I believe, support creationism (as opposed to evolution), are pro life (as opposed to choice) and no doubt find birth control abhorrent . I would venture to guess that you are not fond of the LGBTQ community either.. The list goes on… (That said, if you have not expressed such right wing Christian views I apologize right now.)
    Whatever your personal views, such opinions previously cited, would no doubt be a part of the “Christian” agenda in any event and no doubt be supported by Incal above. (Whatever his (or her) real name is.)
    It is precisely because of the inclusion of nonscientific views of creationism that are surely inserted into a religious schools agenda, that secularism belongs in the publicly funded school system. By all means teach creationism but from the pulpit not from the teachers platform.
    It is a fact that supporters of the Christian faith based system ask that creationism be taught along side that of evolution.
    And what exactly do you mean by “blessings”?? You mention it twice in your monologue. Again it is a worthy word but one that should be proclaimed from the pulpit rather than the teachers lectern.


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