Every once in a while, someone gets inspired to fix a problem and, with much effort, accomplishes the task. The big questions are: what problem was being solved and was it really a problem in the first place? Furthermore, was consideration given to the fact that each new development comes with its winners and losers? How much did the losers lose and how are the winners really benefiting? Sometimes, victories are shallow. When truly evaluated, did the “solution” end up causing more harm than good, in the long run?
Take Alberta’s new home education option for Notification Only as an example. Had this been offered in 1988, it would have been a spectacular triumph. Thirty years later, however, with parents having full choice in where to register for home education, we must ask why we needed to solve a problem that essentially no longer existed. Today, anybody unhappy with their existing situation need only request a change of facilitator or find another willing non-resident board to work with.
Considering that since the early 1990s there has been a facilitator, a school and a board buffering parents from the government, one should question how the new Notification Only option is an improvement when it makes the government the direct family supervisor. The winner is clearly the government, while the home educator’s benefits are debatable.
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.