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Alberta UCP promise to revive PC Education Act if elected

Jason Kenney’s UCP rolled out its education platform on Monday, but one item in the party’s list of promises has an education advocate concerned.

Kenney’s promised on Monday that if elected, he would proclaim the Education Act (2014), which would take effect on September 1, 2019.

“A UCP government will trust the hard work done by those who created the 2014 Education Act, and proclaim that legislation, already passed by the Legislature,” read the party’s release about its platform.

“Unlike the NDP’s curriculum review, conducted largely in secret, the 2014 Education Act resulted from years of widespread public consultation.”

The act had been drawn up by the previous PC government, and made it most of the way through the legislature, except for its final proclamation into law. That was derailed by the election that brought Rachel Notley’s NDP government to power.

However Barb Silva, communications director for Support Our Students (SOS) Alberta, said proclaiming the Education Act over the NDP’s School Act legislation is a way of circumventing bills such as Bill 1, An Act to Reduce School Fees and Bill 24, An Act to Support Gay Straight Alliances.

“It’s a very broad and innocuous way of weakening supports for public education without ever having to name the changes that he wants to make,” said Silva. “It’s a “generic” statement with very real, substantial consequences for LGBTQ students and to pave the way for further privatization, such as lifting the cap for charter schools.

SOS Alberta advocates for public schools and presents information on its website that argues against public funding for private schools.

The UCP platform is promising to pass a Choice in Education Act, which would enshrine a parent’s right to choose they type of education their child receives. The UCP also pledged to lift the current cap on charter schools and maintain funding for private schools.

“Through allowing tax dollars to follow children to the schools of their parents choice – be they public, Catholic, alternative, charter, independent or homeschooling – what we’ve done over the last three to four decades is create tremendous diversity and competition,” said Kenney.