Who Are Home Education’s Enemies and Friends? On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 4)

Categories: Léo’s Insights 2020-2021, On The Alberta Home Education Association

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History clearly shows that home education has not really been in danger or threatened in this province. From the government’s perspective, the biggest issue has actually been how to best deal with this educational option, but never how to eliminate it. Indeed, although the Government of Alberta had to eventually reduce and allocate its distribution of funding, it has never refused it for home educated students. This shows at least some evidence of support, even though some see funding more as the government “buying” access to greater influence, rather than a help.

To be sure, home education has its enemies, in particular the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) which advances home education as inferior to public education, as it likely sees it as robbing them of dues-paying members. However, I believe the greatest threat has always been from the inside, not from the government or the ATA who can only complain.

There has always been opposition from within the church and religious agencies which have succumbed to the notion of government having greater authority over children than parents.

Extended family members can and do come against home educators, but this too is a result of believing that only government knows what children require in education.

However, I believe the greatest enemy of home education, aside from ignorance respecting the true nature of home education, is the avarice associated with the funding of home education and the consequent monetization of students.

The passing of the School Act in 1988 no doubt provided opportunity for the home educating to find a more friendly, if willing non-resident school board with which to register. It also opened the gate for the creation of an industry that over time has come to include public, separate and private schools, not to mention third party agencies specializing in the delivery of home education. Unfortunately, like every other industry, the focus has pretty well been the procurement of money involving the engagement of many a questionable activity in its pursuit.

With the passage of time, the growing home education population, and the corresponding expansion of the industry, AHEA increasingly found itself having to adapt rather than lead. After all, the industry was a direct consequence of the creation of willing non-resident boards and the continued funding of home education. AHEA began to shrink in importance until eventually, its main function became simply to provide a yearly convention.

Despite a few take over attempts by various factions, including secular and otherwise opposing groups, blended programmers and various boards and providers, AHEA was occasionally able to make a pitch for home education, but it largely focused on its own survival.

With time, AHEA lost its purpose and direction. It allowed home education providers into the exhibit hall of the convention when they had no business being there, according to AHEA’s own rules. It became increasingly clear that AHEA had morphed from its original mandate of representing the home education community to serving the industry. Eventually it came to be dominated, if not entirely manipulated, by a particular home education provider with increasing conflicts of interest.

While ostensibly representing the home education community, and at the behest of the controlling provider, AHEA clearly demonstrated it had lost its way when it offered the NDP Minister of Education a proposal to evaluate all of the province’s home educated students, along with the voluntary cooperation of the controlling provider. This was done without consulting AHEA’s members, AHEA having simply assumed a superior knowledge of what home educators needed, which most certainly was not a provincial home education evaluation system. Thankfully and through God’s grace and protection, this suggestion was not accepted.

There are two things required to fully comprehend the threats facing home education today. One must come to understand who has authority in education and how funding has had an overall negative impact. Please understand that the greatest enemies of home education play on these two things, both of which put the ultimate control into the hands of the government.

While AHEA plays the role of negotiator, does it have the ultimate goal of parental autonomy and freedom at heart, or do optics take precedence?

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