AHEA’s Notification Only: On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 7)

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

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If AHEA is informing us that it has taken decades to get the Notification Only option passed, is it possible that it is no longer needed? Or does it indicate a level of ineptitude on AHEA’s part or intransigence on the government’s part? Perhaps all of the above.

Until I did my facilitation visits this year, I was completely at a loss as to why anybody could see Notification Only, with no funding and no school supervision, as a positive option. Now that I have come to see just how abusive some of the home education providers can be, I can understand why some parents would want to escape the tyranny of schools and agencies who believe they know better than parents.

What a heart breaker! Once upon a time I saw my “competitors” as colleagues with the common goal of validating parental claims to authority and responsibility in education. Now I see them more as compromisers, far more interested in leading their “flock” back to the better paying public programming we were all wanting to escape at the dawn of this province’s home education movement.

Since most providers now offer public programming, it becomes easier to understand how AHEA simply reembarked on a path of tacit recognition of government claims to authority in education. I must admit I have had to change my mind respecting how Notification Only may have become so important to AHEA. Then again, was the question of who or what is in authority even considered?

Aside from perhaps seeing a need once again to provide a path away from authoritarian educators, as was the case in the beginning of its mandate, it must be understood that AHEA was also in desperate need of demonstrating it still had a function and purpose, having essentially drifted into irrelevance under the tainted leadership of a fully conflicted executive board.

Fine, let’s say AHEA needed something to reinstate it to a place of relevance. One would think the first place it should have gone is back to the membership, before going to the government with this plan. Without consulting the membership and without seriously seeking advice from people with greater experience and know-how, somebody determined that what the province needed was yet another way to acknowledge government authority in education!

AHEA’s government liaison succeeded in convincing the new Minister of Education that Notification Only was a good thing, but one must be careful not to attribute too much credit here. The government was ripe for ideas and this was a very good “bad idea”. It fit perfectly with the government’s virtue signalling respecting parental choice without making the government give up or lose any authority in education.

Including this new idea as part of its Choice in Education Act gave some credence to the government’s stated goal of giving parents choice in education, but did it really? Making this offering gave the government a way of saving money while retaining control. Parents could now escape unhappy situations by registering directly with the government without funding rather than with a school… without funding.

Yes, you heard me right. Parents are now given a choice between notifying with a school or notifying directly with the government BUT they are still notifying!

Parents are now given a choice between refusing funds directly from the government or declining it from a school, BUT they still have the option of refusing funds.

Oh, parents now also have a choice between having no service from a school or having no service from the government. Either way, it is no service.

I can see how those already with a questionable provider might think this is an improvement, but why not just join a good provider with good service and refuse the funds being made available? This way all the government expectations are met, the parents are protected, and they have much more autonomy than they will directly under the supervision of a government representative who likely understands very little of home education.

Notification Only solved no real problem. It does nothing to challenge government authority in education and changes nothing respecting the option of refusing funds. No help, no encouragement, and certainly no more autonomy and freedom.

However, the government is happy. It saves a lot of money while retaining control. The government is therefore the real winner with Notification Only. I fail to understand why AHEA is bragging about this as a fabulous “achievement”.

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