Proposed Education Act tackles bullies

The Alberta government re-introduced its Education Act Tuesday, promising a systematic provincewide effort to go after and punish schoolyard bullies.

EDMONTON — The Alberta government re-introduced its Education Act Tuesday, promising a systematic provincewide effort to go after and punish schoolyard bullies.

“I want to make sure that in the province of Alberta we have a uniform code of conduct clearly spelling out what is and what isn’t allowable in schools relative to students’ behaviour,” said Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk after introducing Bill 2 in the legislature. “That will include verbal abuse, physical abuse, homophobic abuse, cyberspace abuse and the list goes on and on.”

Lukaszuk said school boards will submit to his department their plans on handling bullying. They will then be compared to an over-arching definition of bullying to make sure there is a one standard of what will and won’t be accepted.

“The fact is we need to standardize this, particularly as kids move from school and class to class, that this same level of expectation will be placed on them,” he said.

The act allows school officials to suspend students for up to five days and, if they feel the behaviour is so injurious or the student so unrepentant, they can ask the local board to expel the child for longer periods as required.

This is the second time the proposed act has been before the house. It was first introduced 10 months ago in the last spring legislature sitting, following three years of public consultation, only to be pulled again last fall for more consultation.

Lukaszuk said the revised bill is substantially the same as the old one except for the expanded provincewide initiative on bullying and the actions to be taken by school boards to combat it.

He said the new bill also allows parents more access to get information on their child’s education, sets up a minister’s student advisory council, and puts in place an expanded audit committee involving third parties to make sure school decisions reflect the goals of students and communities.

“It (the old bill) was a great foundation from which to build on, but the changes are significant,” said Lukaszuk.

The bill retained a provision to hike the minimum dropout age to 17 from 16. It also promises to fund students up to age 21 to complete their high school diplomas; the previous limit was age 19.

Lukaszuk said the changes are to encourage students to stay in school.

More latitude will be given to school boards to pursue programs unique to their students and communities.

“I want to make sure that school boards have the flexibility to make the decisions that reflect local community mores and needs but at the same time also be responsible and transparent,” said Lukaszuk.

The bill also lays out requirements for establishing and running charter schools.

It also compels school boards to collaborate with post-secondary institutions to ease the way for students making the leap to higher learning.

NDP education critic Rachel Notley said the bill falls short.

“We were looking for some specific changes and action to improve our schools,” said Notley.

“We were looking to see a ban on school fees. We were looking to see something around school lunches, around something on full-day kindergarten.

“There’s almost nothing new.”

Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month