AHEA’s Funding “Advancements”: On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 9)

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

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Before addressing the next AHEA misstep, we need to look at some more history.

By the time the new millennium was in full swing, there were a fair number of home education providers vying for home educated students and the associated cash. The trickery, the manipulation, the falsifications, the buying of parent affiliation with the reimbursement of questionable items, not to mention the unethical advancement and cheating associated with blended programming, caused the education bureaucracy to unleash an inquisition to stop funding abuses that lasted for ten years.

Government clawback of funds deemed to have been inappropriately spent became so commonplace that home education providers were forced to seriously take note. Although most providers were included in these “raids”, Education Unlimited was little affected. This was most certainly not as a consequence of favour, but more a result of our having always been very strict about properly accounting for taxpayer money. Eventually a truce with the bureaucracy was reached, when it finally provided some guidelines that could be followed.

As an aside, this guideline so closely resembled our own that I believe it actually was the guideline we at Education Unlimited created! It had taken us years to develop a reimbursement system that emphasized and taught practical responsibility, and it had come to work for all the players: parents, school, board, bookkeepers, accountant, auditors, government. As a consequence, it worked very well for us! It was a system worth emulating!

The guidelines we were using were valuable in that they met all the requirements of good governing and sound accounting practices. Parents were encouraged to demonstrate a certain level of accountability and responsibility as well, which should only be expected when accessing “free government money”. Parents had to be reasonable with their expenditures, provide documentation for all reimbursable items, and make all their claims within a single school year. This was hardly a burden on anyone and if it was, it was worth undertaking.

After the government introduced its funding guidelines, AHEA determined to fix another problem that did not exist: it convinced the government to allow parents to provide documentation for only 75% of expenditures and to extend this irresponsibility over two years instead of one. This made funding abuses possible again, while violating standard accounting practices.

Perhaps it makes sense that a system that tells students they need only master 50% of the objectives to pass would approve of only having to document 75% of expenses in order to access all available funds. After all, this is government, known for bad accounting practices. However, did AHEA or the ministry of education run this proposal by bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, bureaucrats, schools, boards, auditors and the taxman? Not likely, because what was being proposed is generally frowned upon as mismanagement from an accountable business perspective.

Before this ridiculous arrangement was made, it was already nearly impossible to keep school boards from cheating and manipulating parents, and it was just as difficult to direct parents away from abusing the funds! How on earth is this 75% documentation an improvement?

Only a politician could have agreed to a 25% margin of error, and only someone disconnected from having to administer such complexities could have proposed it. Indeed, has AHEA not been crisscrossing the province in search of financial support? Could it be that it has only been accounting for 75% of its funds? Not a good agency from which to take accounting lessons, I’m afraid.

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