What Happened? Education Unlimited in 2014-15

Faye and I were very saddened to be informed at the end of March that the Morinville Christian School had decided not to renew its contract with Education Unlimited for the 2015-2016 school year. Education Unlimited had been contracted to provide home education services on behalf of the Morinville Christian School since 1999, the first year of our operation. Morinville Christian School had played a key role as our board from the very beginning. We were truly disappointed that this had come to an end after so many productive years.

To help you understand what happened, it may be necessary to provide you with a bit of an analogy. When you see a tractor-trailer unit, you see the tractor (representing Education Unlimited) pulling the trailer (representing the parents and students we serve).  What most parents do not see or concern themselves about is that the tractor requires a motor (a school) to enable it to pull the trailer.  We didn’t know it then, but the Education Unlimited tractor motor (MCS) needed replacing.  We thank God for miraculously and quickly providing us a “new motor” in the form of a new school, who have clearly demonstrated a kindred heart and a common motivation in protecting parental rights and Christian education without need for compromise. This new school has enabled Education Unlimited to carry on with its ministry with no perceptible change in our service for our families. During this transition, we discovered that our parents were not only very comfortable with Education Unlimited but committed to going forward with us in our ongoing struggle for parental freedom and the determination to teach their children to the glory of God. Thank you for supporting this ministry.

In our dealings with the Morinville Christian School we had always been very fair and generous, supporting the school in every way we could. We may have had the odd disagreement over certain things, but I was not aware of any major issues between us, aside from the occasional politics that comes with having to work with a number of people of different characters. I prefer to give in and be at peace whenever possible and believe that reasonable adults can always find a way to work things out, but not at any cost. There is always the need to stand for what is right.

Those of you who know me, know that I have long defended the right of parents to train and teach their children in keeping with their faith. I have contributed much towards this cause over the years, especially when it comes to home education. I have strong opinions and I don’t mind sharing them, especially if I think something is wrong and needs attention. I believe that when we say and do nothing, those who would inflict greater control over us are empowered by degrees, leading us to eventually compromise ourselves out of existence.

Most of you may not be aware of how much government encroachment there is in education today. I have been in the education field all of my adult life, much of that in the public system, so I know a little about how the system works. Knowing the system allows me to defend home education while working with or around arbitrary and unnecessary demands that disenfranchises parents from making decisions about their children’s educational well being. Communicating honestly in love while defending and protecting these principles is of utmost importance to me. Not everyone at the Morinville school or board appreciated my views, and admittedly, the Morinville Christian School Board was in the unenviable position of being the “middle man” between me and the Department of Education. My questioning the bureaucracy eventually became too much for the Morinville Christian School Board who desired that I simply comply with departmental demands, despite how nonsensical and intrusive some of those demands were. Though there may have been a few idle threats from the department, the school never suffered any repercussions as a consequence of my standing for parents. In fact, we won some decisive victories by refusing to comply to unreasonable bureaucratic demands. We are still in discussions with the Department over the clawback of funds for home educators pursuing post-secondary courses.

I have always believed, as a teacher and now as the director of Education Unlimited, that my first loyalty is to my parents who ultimately have the authority and responsibility for the training of their children. I am strong in my convictions and fearless in questioning those who would separate us from our freedoms. I am compelled to defend those whom God has placed in Education Unlimited’s care by generally and specifically advocating a biblically directed education to be delivered by parents in the home.

Even though Education Unlimited may be listed as an “Independent Contracted Home Education Specialist (ICHES)” we must admit that we are more than home education specialists and offer more than the provision to home educate. Education Unlimited and it’s dedicated staff are home education advocates. To advocate means that we propose, uphold, defend, promote, support and campaign by expounding, speaking, pleading and championing home education in every way and whenever possible. To advocate is to have others’ best interest in mind while to simply provide home education registration could be driven by more self-centred interests. Both can be determined by asking whether or not the “services offered” would continue if there was no funding.

We may be tempted to guess about the reason or motivation behind MCS’ decision, but it would not likely lead to an accurate assessment. We all have a tendency to see only one side of any issue, making us prone to come to conclusions that are often disconnected from reality. We don’t want to do this. We don’t want to dwell in unforgiveness or the past when we have such an exciting future ahead of us.

I believe you need to hear the rest of this story to be aware of things that could threaten home and private education. Western Christianity seems to be adopting a more tolerant attitude towards things that are clearly in contravention of biblical directives. To do nothing is to ignore things that we should be doing something about, otherwise, we empower people and agencies to continue their morally and ethically questionable activities to the detriment of the church. We have seen plenty of examples of this lately.

When first served with our “divorce papers”, Faye and I were verbally assured that MCS had no intention of continuing to work in home education. MCS stated that “philosophical differences” was what had led them to want out of our sixteen year long association and that they fully desired us to simply find another school and take our “business” elsewhere. We were also told that should we have difficulty finding another school willing to assume responsibility for the registration of our students, they would be willing to carry us for an additional year. We naively believed these statements assuming that these fellow believers would do as they said. As it turned out, MCS had every intension to continue supporting home education in this province, having already agreed to contract with the Home Education Exchange (THEE) instead of with us. Morinville had often mentioned that they wanted to buy Education Unlimited, but we resisted selling ministry and people. While we were told that they had no intention of “taking control” of our organization, most everything that has been done since indicates that those words were not likely representing the truth. MCS sent, first our facilitators, then every family under our care, a letter to inform them that they had put an end to our agreement. This represented the very first time MCS had ever communicated with anyone within our organization. Then, at the end of June, MCS sent a second letter to all our parents, informing them of their plans to continue to offer home education through two “reputable” agencies, THEE and now Roots. It now appears that if they could not buy us out, they have a plan to “assume responsibility” for our families! Someone may have forgotten that God is still in control! While we most certainly do not appreciate what MCS, THEE and Roots are doing to us and our families, we pray that home education in this province is not damaged in this activity by agencies whose motives can clearly be questioned.