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Town of Barrhead councillor expresses concern over Alberta’s education system

Rod Klumph said “in loco parentis” needs to be reinstated in the Education Act
Town of Barrhead Coun. Rod Klumph suggested to Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken during his Jan. 10 visit to council that the government should reinstate a priniciple into the province's Education Act that presupposes teachers as an agent of parents.

BARRHEAD - A Town of Barrhead councillor decided to use his opportunity to pose a question to local United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA Glenn van Dijken during Jan. 10's council meeting about education legislation.

More specifically, he asked van Dijken why the government did not restore the principle of "in loco parentis" when it revamped the old School Act with the Education Act. 

“In loco parentis” is a Latin legal term translates to “in place of a parent”. 

This was van Dijken's second visit to council since late November to answer questions of importance to the municipality. 

Councillors first invited the MLA in September to address the council. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, council had to cut van Dijken's November visit short and was only able to answer two of the 10 questions councillors had posed to him in writing before his visit. 

"It is a little off the cuff but being able to speak to an MLA and ask him a question, I thought, being a parent and former teacher, I thought it should be about education," he said.  

"When I was a teacher, when they got their degree, (in loco parentis) or acting on behalf of the parent was the guiding principle. The public system was set up so the parents could trust that their children would be taught in such a manner that they accepted." 

However, he noted the province removed “in loco parentis” in the early to mid-2000s from the School Act and the UCP government did not reinstate it when the legislation was replaced with the new Education Act. 

"(With in loco parentis) the teacher used to be the agent of the parent, but now it is gone, they are the agent of the state," Klumph said. "This means they are governed by administrators that may have interests other than the student, such as financial."

Klumph also suggested that there had been a loss in trust in the Pembina Hills School Division following the dismissal or departure of multiple superintendents in recent years.

"After having their children governed by these individuals, you can see why parents started to have a lack of trust," Klumph said.  

He then accused schools of withholding information and secrets from parents, which he did not specify. 

"This is not just an Alberta issue. I see it worldwide," Klumph said. "How do you go about changing things? My solution is to reinstate ‘in loco parentis’, so parents become part of the process, what is taught and how it is taught." 

He then thanked the government for its commitment to parents' rights to teach their children. 

van Dijken replied that although ‘in loco parentis’ is not included in the Education Act, the legislation enhanced parental rights to choose the type of education that was right for their child. 

"Protection for choice in education has been drafted in legislation (Choice in Education Act) to recognize that principle," he said.  

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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