Final Thoughts On AHEA: On the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) (Part 15)

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

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I never planned to be an educator. In fact, being a dyslexic had me completely at odds with the education system in every way. However, I was smart enough to know that even though the system was broken, it was nonetheless a means to an end. In wanting to leave the world I was stuck in, I knew the only avenue of escape would be through obtaining a good education.

I did get an education and was on my way to becoming a veterinarian when I was “redirected” into a career in education, within the very system I regarded with contempt. I originally imagined it would be for a short time, as I planned to return to my vet studies, but that never happened. The rest is history. God does have a sense of humour!

So here I am, nearly forty-five years later, still active in this education career. My path has been such that I have experienced nearly everything possible, and I no longer plan to “return” to what would likely have proven to be the wrong career choice for me. I now believe I was made to be a teacher and a leader. I was given a vision and a heartfelt passion to help parents fulfill their responsibility of training and teaching their children, and indeed, that was what I did from day one of my career, often against the direction of my superiors. I deeply believed I was working for the parents, not some highly trained and often disconnected professional. To this day, I maintain the position that parents are in authority and are therefore “the boss”. So goes my “educational mantra”.

I tell you this because I want you to know that doing the right thing has its rewards, but it also comes with its challenges. Choosing to engage in this task of questioning the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) was not done lightly. However, with an all-consuming desire to advance parental authority and autonomy, I am distressed by what AHEA has become. It is behaving no differently than other organizations or agencies that have lost their original purpose, direction or focus.

It is hard to believe any organization was ever formed for no good reason. Since the founding objectives are fresh and often tangible, organizations are usually full of enthusiasm and bravado when initially starting up. This was certainly the case when AHEA was first formed. Alas, as with other such agencies with initial noble causes, the original purposes and objectives were either fulfilled or no longer needed.

AHEA then went through many years of what could be called “wilderness walking” or “cruise control”, largely being kept from insolvency through its yearly convention. However, like any other agency past its prime, it eventually fell into mismanagement, political skirmishes, attempted hostile take-overs and other activities that not only neglected the home education community, but jeopardized its freedoms. Much like what happens to most sun setting agencies, it eventually metamorphosed into assuming a life of its own with a new focus on survival.

For years, AHEA’s membership was built using coercion, as attendees to its annual convention had to be members; this added to AHEA’s growing reputation of irrelevance. Unfortunately, once an agency has descended to this level of insignificance there occurs a perversion of purpose where the membership is no longer being served, but is rather manipulated into serving the agency.

At this stage, the membership becomes an afterthought, to be considered only after the big “objectives” are realized. These “objectives” are also often pursued without consulting the membership or considering the potential negative impact they may have. Initial sensible ideals give way to contradictory activities that are out of alignment with the agency’s original purpose, and fundraising and scaring people with lies takes their place, since fearful misinformation sells memberships and brings in donations. Support is eventually claimed by invoking “a majority” consensus despite the fact that truth is never established by consensus.

In my time, I have seen this happen with a number of organizations. First, an organization is created by an altruistic group of volunteers with a noble vision and it is usually successful in accomplishing its original objectives. Once they are accomplished, the organization flounders about looking for a renewed purpose. When one is not found, it devolves into being a business which eventually develops a bureaucracy, a payroll and a new plan to restore its relevancy.

I must admit I was very disillusioned when AHEA, for which I once served on the executive board as the secretary, began to appeal for donations. It was obvious this agency was slipping into further irrelevancy and heading headlong towards obsolescence. At this juncture, I predicted it would take on a life of its own with the objective of doing whatever would be necessary to survive. I even expected it to become increasingly secular in its viewpoint, and assumed its new activities would be increasingly questionable.

The fact that AHEA recently engaged in membership and fundraising drives; sought government permission to do what God has directed parents to do; joined forces with other agencies not sharing the Christian faith to advance secular solutions; and equates the Charter of Rights with the Bible, should make home educators suspect the validity of AHEA’s claim to Christianity and seriously question why we would continue to support an agency whose focus on survival has eclipsed its heart for service.

Most parents just want to educate their children with the least possible hassle and are not much interested in the politics associated with its “representative” agency. Furthermore, the majority of people have no way of measuring claims agencies make of the effectiveness of their “accomplishments” so they default to trusting the information they’re given. This information is increasingly suspect when it is delivered by people with a lot at stake. This is the perfect recipe for the continued manipulation of the home education community where anything said or done will likely proceed unnoticed or without understanding.

One more thing. My motivation for doing this series on AHEA was very simple. I wanted to inform the home education community of the hidden dangers associated with an agency that has begun to manipulate its membership to advance its own agenda, simply because it wants to survive at any cost. The only thing in it for me is knowing I have done what no one else is willing to do, which is to expose the dangers of a wayward agency. I pray this effort will bear fruit.

I read that once an agency has exceeded its shelf life, “its propagators often stoop to ridiculing, shaming or otherwise fabricating stories to vilify the opposition, dismissing them as skeptics, liars, deniers or of being in someone’s pocket, often working underhandedly to remove the “obstacles” to their agenda.” Yikes! If this is true, what’s in store for me?

“Politics can be summed up as a contest between those seeking control over society and those seeking freedom from society’s control.” (Bertrand Russell)

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