We All Studied a Liitle Something and Somehow, So the Education for Us, Thank Goodness! is not a Big Surprise!” A.S. Pushkin

Children's pictureshowRussian and Canadian education systems are different in many ways.

At Russian school the focus is on the universal and diverse programs.

In Canadian system there exists the principle of a choice. As children while they are growing up cannot find their choices, parents do it for them. The parents-children relationship was always and will be since the civilization started. remember how Dostoevsky graduated from Medical Institute by the parents’ choice, but by his own choice he became a writer, making up his living from uneasy, writing income.

So, back to the education topic.

New immigrant families coming to Canada feel immediately the difference in education systems. To quicker find a proper school for a child, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of a Canadian education system which varies from province to province.                                                                                                                                                                       merry-go-round

Public education in Alberta used to be a universal, one-size-fits-all service, with kids attending school with their neigbours, no matter their race, creed, class or level of intelligence. Schools reflected the diversity of their surrounding communities, and students were given the knowledge and tools they needed to become citizens in a pluralistic society. But since the Ralph Klein era (1992- 2006), Alberta K-12 education system has changed dramatically. Fewer and fewer Alberta kids attend school in their home neighborhood, more schools close every year and public education has increasingly become specialized, the students separated – by race, creed, class and level of intelligence.

“Choice” is the buzzword both inside and outside the public system. The education system now follows a business model, with schools competing for students.

As the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) describes Klein’s changes to education:” The assumption was that anything public institutions could do, private enterprise could do more efficiently and more effectively”.

kidsjumpingintoswimmingpoolThe ATA raises an important point. The problem with private enterprise is that it doesn’t usually have the public interest in mind. While “choice” may be good for individuals, it comes at the expense of diversity and community. In Edmonton there were closed five public schools this year, in Calgary more than 30 schools were shut down in the past five years, three more headed for extinction.

In 1996 there started the policy of “open boundaries’ which requires public schools to follow a business model, competing for students, and in 1980 “alternative education programs” were established to specialize in language, culture, subject, teaching philosophy, and, most significantly, religion.

Charter schools have been legislated since 1994. Alberta is the only province in Canada to have charter schools, kidscarracingwhich have their own board, aren’t allowed to charge tuition, can’t have a religious mandate and are subject to an agreement with the province ( which must be periodically renewed) to provide education that is pedagogically and fiscally responsible. A $ 450 school fee includes 24/7 use of a laptop by every student as well as field trips, including at least one overnight trip.

While the average Alberta annual family income is around $ 72,000, those who choose charter or alternative schools have family income that’s at least $ 12,000 higher. And over 21 per cent of charter school parents hold a university degree, compared to 14,8 per cent of “traditional school” parents.

13 charter schools are province-wide for a total enrollment of 7,000 students, 83 per sent of them in Calgary. These schools specialize in everything from at-risk youth to gifted students, from an all-girls school to a high-tech science school.

So, the parents face a choice: public, private, alternative or charter school. Each and every one has its benefits. But as the author Mike Sadava in the magazine “Albertaviews” , September 2010, p.26, put it in the title “More Choice, Less Education”.

Figure it out,please, my dear parents.

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