It’s a warm evening, the sun is out. Until now, we’ve watched soccer from inside one mom’s Honda Odyssey. But tonight, no rain, hail or tundra-like winds.
Only a mention of Bill 44 brings a chill. Our team manager is a teacher with 20 years experience.
“It’s so stupid,” she says. “I’ve written to Ed Stelmach and told him exactly what I think.”
What she thinks is that Bill 44 is stupid, unnecessary and will place a chill in the classroom. Bill 44 was just passed as part of Alberta’s human rights legislation. It gives parents the right to be notified and pull their kids out of class should sexuality, sexual orientation or religion be discussed.
I’ve just signed a sexuality course consent for my Grade 5 son, who is busy kicking a ball down the field. So I’m confused. How is Bill 44 different?
The teacher-mom-soccer manager tells me Alberta parents already have the right to decide if their kids can take sex ed, or any other class. She knows some parents ask for alternate assignments when curriculum varies from their beliefs. She’s good with that.
Bill 44 is clearly impractical. It assumes that a teacher will know what will be discussed in a class. It assumes every word is predetermined.
“How can a teacher anticipate a child’s question?” our team manager asks. “How will children with gay parents feel when their classmates are pulled out of a class?”
So here we have it. Alberta’s new Bill 44 plays pure conservative politics. It was the so-called rural and conservative vote that won Premier Stelmach the election. He’s fortifying his base. Teachers are his ideological playthings.
I feel solidarity. Some of my own students are graduating with degrees from Mount Royal College today. I’m proud as punch.
But if the Alberta government dares to dictate my classroom content, I’ll defend it with pitchfork, spatula, and gobs of bitumen.
Hey, I’m all for a Bill 09. The literacy bill. It requires every Alberta child to meet defined reading and writing markers — or have support to get there. By the end, it means students can demonstrate ability to decipher legislative gobbly-gook and write a persuasive argument.
At the side of the soccer pitch, we agree: Of all the things our government could be doing, Bill 44 is it?
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