Bringing soft totalitarianism into the classroom

Who decides what children get taught when it comes to moral and religious questions? Parents or the state?

These questions are being asked in Alberta, as a result of the provincial government’s proposed new Education Act. The bill incorporates the Alberta Human Rights Act into the law governing schools and education, presumably giving aggrieved students, parents and teachers the right to file complaints with the Alberta Human Rights Commission (HRC). Why the government of Alison Redford would wish to bring the thoroughly discredited bureaucratic apparatus of the human-rights commission into the education system is baffling.

The real courts slapped the human rights commission senseless on that one, but not until the accused had been comprehensively abused by the onesided process. Freedom of the press, freedom of religion, fundamental legal rights of due process – none of these carry much weight at the human rights commissions. Sensible people around the country are endeavouring to have their pernicious scope restricted. Alberta’s government, on the other hand, seeks to expand their purview so they might be able to harass every teacher in every classroom in the province.

Which led to an odd protest at the legislature here on Monday by several hundred home-schooling families, worried that the new Education Act’s drafting would expose parents to human rights prosecutions if determined activists didn’t care for their religious and moral teaching. The protest was odd because the education minister showed up at the rally himself, saying that his proposed law would do no such thing; and affirming the principle that the parents were advocating, namely that the parents’ right to teach their children should not be impeded by the state’s various bureaucratic arms.

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