The Hand of God continues to be over home educators in Alberta, and it is truly by His grace and love that home education continues to flourish and grow.
In March, 2016, the Progressive Conservative Government voted in Bill 10, now An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect our Children. Since then all school boards have had to create policies around gender identity. Private schools which oversee home education administrators have also been required to do so.
As a result, many people have become aware of the various agendas and ideological teachings present in Alberta's schools, many of which home educators have been aware of for years, even decades. Thus, the interest in home education has grown incredibly over the past year, with an anticipation of greatly increased numbers for the 2016/17 education year.
Another very recent trend has been for school at home programs to reduce or eliminate entirely their funding for school programs offered at home. It is very possible that home education under the Home Education Regulation could see a significant increase in numbers, due to parents experiencing the educational limitations of school programs being offered at home without the benefit of funding in excess of that required under the Home Education Regulation.
The change in government has meant that AHEA's President - Paul van den Bosch - and Government Liaison - Patty Marler - have again spent a considerable amount of time building positive working relationships. We have met with Education Minister Eggen and have been in communication with him a number of times.
The Education Act was pulled by Minister Eggen to review, and at this time it and all the regulations associated with it are under review. Minister Eggen has told AHEA that he is not looking to make any changes to the Home Education Regulation and AHEA expressed that we are happy with the regulation as it is as well. We suggested that should changes be made, AHEA would be in favour of less regulation for home educators and would recommend a 'Notify only' option. It is likely that Minister Eggen will make some changes to the Education Act to make it his own, and his party's own, but the extent of the changes are unknown, as is the time set for the tabling of any amendments to the Act in the Alberta Legislature. Brick and Mortar schools are eager to have the Education Act proclaimed, but it is up to the current government to set it's own timelines.
Alberta's Independent Contract Home Education Specialists (ICHES) - whom over 80% of Alberta's home educators notify with - continue to have challenges due to the ever changing policies and procedures within Alberta Education. While AHEA stands for Alberta's home educators, it is important to recognize the significant role that ICHES play in making Alberta a wonderful province in which to home educate. AHEA therefore, has a very strong working relationship with the ICHES, and we work to discern if and when issues that arise for ICHES are important for AHEA to become involved in. This past year, for example, AHEA has provided significant input into the post secondary education of home education students topic as well as several other areas. Much of the work we do is completed in a manner that strives to affect as much positive change as possible without making it necessary to involve individual home educators. AHEA recognizes the passion that home educators have for their children and their home education, and recognizes that parents are willing to advocate, write letters, meet their MLAs, etc. AHEA is thankful to have the strength of its grassroots membership ready to act when their home education is at risk in one way or another.
There continue to be challenges, with new ones cropping up frequently. AHEA tries to stay abreast of these, and we do appreciate it when people advise us of issues that arise. It is an honour to serve home educators, and your prayers for wisdom, discernment, and proper action are always appreciated.
Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA)