BARRHEAD/CALGARY-A Calgary student has started an online petition via change.org calling on the provincial government to maintain funding for the Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC), as well as to give more funding to other alternative schools “so kids and young adults can receive the education that best suits them and their learning.”
Vienna Biletsky started the Keep Funding for ADLC petition roughly two weeks ago, and as of Sept. 20, it had garnered more than 1,200 signatures with a general goal of accumulating 1,500.
In an interview on Sept. 18, Vienna said she had expected around 200 signatures for the petiion, noting she had promoted it through her Snapchat and Instagram.
However, after the petition was promoted by her English Language Arts (ELA) 20-1 teacher and ADLC principal Steven Kaplan, hundreds more signatures started coming in.
“That’s when it started really blowing up,” she said. “I’m really glad to see that. It was really unexpected.”
In the foreword for the petition, Vienna details how is being forced to close this year after the province chose to cut its funding to $14 million in 2020-2021 and $7 million in 2021-2022.
“ADLC has provided so many kids and adults education for over a century and having the school can cause complications with many of the 14,000-plus students enrolled in their courses,” she writes, referencing the ADLC’s history as the Alberta Correspondence School, which opened in 1923.
Vienna writes the group of students served by ADLC include athletes who travel a lot for their sport, students who want to graduate school earlier, young adults who dropped out of school for personal reasons, kids who have health complications and cannot attend a regular school and students who want to take certain courses that aren’t offered by their local school.
That includes Vienna, a freestyle skier who is in Grade 11 at the National Sport School (NSS) in Calgary. The NSS is a public high school specifically for student athletes who spend a great deal of time training and thus would find attending a regular school difficult.
“They don’t have as many class options (as a regular school). And their classes get full really fast, especially because of the pandemic,” she said.
Vienna said she took all of her Grade 9 classes through ADLC, followed by Physics 20 in Grade 10. (Incidentally, she writes that she did better in that course than if she would have taken it in a classroom.)
This year, she is enrolled in LA 20-1, Physics 30 and a number of other Career and Technology Studies (CTS) courses her school doesn’t offer.
Vienna said she isn’t absolutely sure what to do with the petition — notably, it doesn’t have a closing date — but she does have plans of e-mailing NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman in the near future.