Now What? On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 14)

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

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I am sure you have already been told that things are not always as they seem. This is true.

We have all experienced situations where we have had to seriously change things in order to accommodate a new order. Life is full of these kinds of surprises. For instance, we likely have all been disappointed when we hear politicians say, “We are all in this together”, then proceed to live as though the “we” does not include them! And who can deny being stunned by the actions of someone we valued and trusted as a friend when (s)he did something that clearly showed they had bigger priorities than ourselves?

Those of you who have been closely following the recent activities of the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) may have been perplexed by the recent announcement regarding the creation of a paid leadership position. With much fanfare, the announcement read, “AHEA’s First Executive Director – An Investment in Our Future”. It contained a bit of information and a lot of hand-picked, congratulatory accolades solicited from some “big shots”.

It is easy enough to understand what the first part of the announcement is saying, but the second part is rather vague. Whose future is getting “an investment”? Could it be that while we are to believe it is the home education community’s future that will be the recipients of this “investment”, is it possible that AHEA or the person now filling the role of “Executive Director” will be the major benefactors?

Whether you are delighted, indifferent or concerned regarding this newly created position, there are a few things that just don’t add up.

Last fall, the individual now known as the Executive Director of AHEA undertook a provincial campaign to speak to the home education community. The meetings she organized were often poorly attended, but that did not deter the enthusiasm of the presenter.

The agenda was fairly consistent and involved four general messages: “Look at all that AHEA has done” with special mention of Notification Only and the new home education funding arrangements; “imagine where home education would be without AHEA”; “all home educators should join as members”; and “we desperately need your financial assistance or we will cease to exist”. This campaign was not only successful in keeping AHEA from vanishing into oblivion, but apparently it gained enough support and donations to justify the creation of a new position with an impressive title that just happened to be filled by the presenter who had blitzed the province.

I must admit it was masterfully planned, if one can be so bold as to assume there was a plan. First, make some noise about helping the home education community by convincing the government to create a largely purposeless option for Notification Only. Follow that up quickly with an announcement about the normalization of bad accounting and stewardship. Then blitz of the province to demonstrate how dedicated, important and “Christian” AHEA is. Finally, be sure to solicit memberships and donations to ensure the continuation of this home education advocacy, and guess what? You now have enough money to be hired as the Executive Director. Is this an example of leadership or manipulation? Remember, not everything is as it seems.

Regarding the claim that AHEA is Christian, I must admit my cynicism questions whether this is true conviction or simply a marketing ploy to attract the support of the majority of home educators who subscribe to this worldview? Again, not everything is as it seems.

(Before I completely disavow myself of this latest development, I once again want to state that I do not believe the people involved in this activity are operating with evil intent, even if one can question the ethics employed. Still, I would be remiss if I did not state that AHEA has a function. It is just that it often seems to forget what that function is and how best to fulfill it. What concerns me is when it extends beyond its legitimate boundaries into areas it knows nothing about in an attempt to prove its relevancy.)

AHEA is a society that exists at the behest of its membership, not that of the provincial home education community. There are other agencies also claiming to represent the home education community of Alberta, such as the Alberta Homeschooling Association. What percentage of the overall provincial home education community are members of AHEA and of these, what percentage are members because they believe or even know of AHEA’s purpose? I personally hear, “They (AHEA) do not represent me” far too often.

In spite of the fact that a relatively small percentage of the home education community are members of this organization, we are universally affected when AHEA convinces the government it speaks on behalf of all home educators. Not that I disagree with AHEA’s insistence on being a Christian organization, but as soon as it does so, does it not alienate a significant percentage of the home educators it claims to be representing? And, while “AHEA believes in the individual, God-given responsibility of parents to do what is in the best interests of our children, and appreciates our Section 2 Charter of Rights to our freedoms of peaceful assembly and association”, is it not confusing directives? Surely AHEA must know it is not God who wrote this Charter!

AHEA is now able to support a new position with an impressive title. However, will this truly be as advantageous for home educators as it will be for AHEA and particularly the individual who just happens to occupy this new position? Furthermore, will this person be leading or following when aligning with other players of the home education industry? Is the new Executive Director able to see the potential long term repercussions of “successes”? I shudder to think. Special needs, anyone?

We now have an Executive Director who represents “Alberta’s home education community”. What part of the community is it truly representing when it goes to the government to ask permission to do what God has clearly directed parents to do? Will it be the Bible or the Charter of Rights that will direct the Alberta Home Education Association going forward?

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