In response to the passing of Bill 44, I have drafted an angry letter to my MLA, Guy Boutilier, which I plan on copying to Ed Stelmach (the Premier of Alberta), Dave Hancock (the Minister of Education), and the local newspaper, the Fort McMurray Today.
This is an open call for feedback. Please read and leave feedback in the comments; I haven't sent this yet, and would appreciate your input highly.
Please read and comment below:
Dear Mr. Boutilier,
My name is Brennan Conroy, and I am going into my third year of the music program at Keyano College. I am writing to express my disgust in the passing of Bill 44 (Human Rights, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism Amendment Act) with section 9 still in it. I am aware that Bill 44 does not apply to my personal learning experience. However, this new legislation paints a very grim image of the future of Alberta's society, and I feel that it is important these issues be addressed.
Lessons about sexual orientation, religion, and sexual education are just a few broad examples of "controversial" subjects under this new law. The inherent flaw in this legislation, however, is that it assumes that parents will teach these important concepts to their children themselves; if parents are removing their children from these classes, they clearly do not want their children to learn these things in the first place. What does this mean for Alberta's future? Children in Alberta should be exposed to many different viewpoints; they should be opened to as much information as possible about sexual health and safe sexual practices so they understand the risks involved and make informed, positive decisions. They should be challenged to see all sides of a story so as to understand and appreciate people of all different cultures, beliefs, and sexual orientations. Section 9 of Bill 44 challenges these fundamental principles of our society; tolerance and knowledge are being suspended indefinitely, and narrow-mindedness and ignorance are taking their places.
The argument exists that parents have the right to determine what their children should and should not learn. Albertan parents, however, already had this right; they could remove their children from any classes they wished. The difference with this new legislation, however, is that the onus is on the teachers to inform parents in advance if controversial topics will be discussed during a class. Teachers may now be brought to the Human Rights courts by parents over something controversial in a lesson plan. How do teachers determine what is Ã¢â‚¬Å“tabooÃ¢â‚¬Â and what is not? Can biology and science teachers no longer teach evolution? Are social studies teachers no longer allowed to discuss a current issue or historical event from the perspective of a person of faith? It is not fair to ask teachers to send home permission slips every time they plan to touch on something Ã¢â‚¬Å“controversialÃ¢â‚¬Â in their class; let teachers do the jobs they have been trained to without fear of prosecution.
The curriculum cannot and should not be custom-tailored to suit the needs and beliefs of a handful of studentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ parents in a class; it is not fair to the numerous students whose parents want them to have a full, rich, broad education. Teachers are saying that they do not know which lessons they can and cannot teach anymore, and it is going to have an obscurely negative impact on the quality of the public education system in Alberta.
I used to be proud to be an Albertan. However, since Bill 44 passed, retaining this pride has become extremely difficult; I absolutely cannot be proud of living in a place where intolerance and closed-mindedness are preached in the school system. It is counter-productive, and it sends the message to the rest of the world that Alberta promotes bigotry and ignorance.
I challenge you, Mr. Boutilier, and the Government of Alberta, to face a referendum on this issue, because I do not believe that the majority of Albertans want this for our future.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Boutilier.
It feels a little rough to me; any feedback you're willing to offer, from content to grammar and technical, would be highly appreciated! : )
Please and thank you! DFTBA!
(PS: Yes, the final draft will be in proper business letter format, with return address at top, etc..)
(Edit: Letter updated at 4:45 PM on June 7, 2009)