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School Funding and Religious Freedom

Dear Editor, As a mom with children attending the Covenant Canadian Reformed School in Neerlandia, I read with interest Mr.

Dear Editor,

As a mom with children attending the Covenant Canadian Reformed School in Neerlandia, I read with interest Mr. Kevin Berger’s column “Admitting to a mistake” (November 20th Barrhead Leader) commenting on Minister Eggen’s threat to pull funding from this school.

Mr. Berger states he does not believe private schools should get a dime of taxpayer money. He says, “If your religious beliefs are so strong that you can’t attend public school, you can pay extra for the privilege of going to a private school that teaches whatever you want. But cutting off funding to some independent and private schools because they’re not keen on allowing GSAs might be a step too far… it seems unfair to force rules around GSAs on them. It feels like an infringement of religious beliefs ...”

I want to commend Mr. Berger for discerning that by way of Bill 24 the government is forcing their gender and sexual ideology on faith-based schools and trampling the religious freedom of families in Alberta.

I would further point out that the funding framework we have in Alberta is not an anomaly as Mr. Berger asserts, as four other provinces also support diversity in education by providing some level of funding to independent schools.

It should be emphasized that in Alberta independent schools receive 70 per cent of the funding public schools are given for operational costs — no funding is given for capital costs.

This means that when an independent school such as Covenant needs to build an addition or upgrade the septic field, these costs are born entirely by the parents and supporting members of the school society, thereby saving taxpayers a great deal of money.

I also want to clarify from Mr. Berger’s comments that at Covenant school the students are not taught ‘whatever the parents want’ – the Alberta Program of Studies is taught from a Reformed, Christian perspective.

At Covenant school, my children receive a quality education in a welcoming, caring environment; in 2017, Covenant school attained a 97.2 safe and caring score, well above the provincial average of 89.5.

Though indeed I feel privileged to have my children attend such a wonderful school, it does not follow that my family should have to bear all of the costs associated with my children’s education. My children are Albertans. My family pays taxes. Is the education of my children not as worthy of government investment as the education of their peers attending the fully-funded local public school?

Minister Eggen and the NDP government should not only stop their plan to pull funding, they should be commending such a school as Covenant and doing what they can to emulate their results.

Jennifer Otten