Last summer, a new term came to lips of Alberta citizens: The Ministry of Learning.
What does this newspeak term actually mean? Besides being a transparent "proactive" term, it's a really stupid, and probably dangerous, way to think about education.
What does this comprise? Advanced education (previously a ministry all to its own) is now lumped in with education concerns from kindergarten to grade 12. You may remember some problems that keep arising in the k-12 area of education.
Maybe you've read a letter to the editor from overprotective parents screaming, "Why should my kids have to eat lunch on the gym floor?"
While there are very important issues in that arena education the government is more willing to give grade seven's e-mail than give teachers a cost of living increase.
Don't they realize a single minister will have to sift through all this refuse plus all the important k-12 issues? Add to that a universities' situation that threatens to explode.
Where is this leading? The government obviously equates your university education with Heritage Park field trip funding.
In case Mr. Klein or Mr. Oberg didn't get the update, 2,000 University of Calgary students (10 per cent of student body) protested last year's tuition increase. The trend appears it will gain steam, more students will appear at this year's tuition rally.
Here's the beauty part: only one education budget, means every dollar spent on lowering tuition appears to be stolen from the mouths of adorable children.
It would be unforgivable if the government planned to quash the growing number of unsatisfied university students by pitting them against a large and vocal k-12 lobby. A group comprised of parents and teachers, which are comprised of powerful union.
Graduate students now compete for research grants, with children learning how to finger paint.
You cannot deny that a good base education gained in primary and secondary is extremely important; but the leap to post secondary is just too far to jump.
A better solution would have combined Advanced Education with Science and Innovation, then expanded the department to include all areas of research.
This would have given some respect to the highly advanced research conducted by all faculties of a universities. Instead, we drown in a sea of needs.
(Originally printed June 27, 1999.)