18,000 sign protest against math program. So what, replies the gov’t

Curious how the man, who’s going to teach us all a new way to think, does his own thinking

As we watch day by day Alberta’s minister of education David Eggen pursue his master plan to change the way the citizens of his backward province think, we are being given first-hand evidence of the way the minister himself thinks. For example we saw last week the strange thinking behind his pledge to champion the sexual choices of students against any intervention by their parents or teachers. What’s even more instructive is his handling of a difficult problem posed for him by Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies, a mother and a medical doctor at Calmar, Alberta.

Dr. Tran-Davies is conducting a one-woman war to gain a more effective role for parents in public education. She wants   parents to play a much more decisive role in determining what, how and how well their children are taught. She noticed that the Tory government back in the Lougheed days had championed the parental cause more widely than any other province in the country. However, as the years passed the provincial bureaucracy gained an ever greater control over the mechanics of government. The parental and public role in the process steadily shrank until the monumental Tory travesty Bill 10 deprived them of almost any pivotal influence whatever.

Into this dismal setting marched the socialist NDP government in May of 2015, planting Mr. Eggen in the education ministry. The point to notice, however, was that now the golden day had come, with the bureaucracy in total uninhibited  control. The minister, a teacher and an activist member of the most wild branch of the teachers’ union, along with most of the department’s senior bureaucrats were of one mind. (Most but not all, and that’s important.) With them also were the exotic bird brains of the U of A’ s education faculty, who are paid to think up educational experiments to perform on our children.

Out of this gruesome melange emerged the government’s plans for the new curriculum. Meanwhile, out of Calmar, Alberta, emerged Dr.Nhung Tran-Davies—smart, intelligent, culturally informed, tireless and armed with a petition. Onto it over the next six or so months, were applied the names of no less than 18,000 Albertans, nearly all of them parents.

Bearing her petition, Mrs. Tran-Davies sought an interview with the minister. The parents were particularly concerned with the evident failure of the department’s latest experiment in maths teaching, a mounting disaster, she said. The minister did not reply. So she sent another request, then another, then another. Same silence. Here we are given a kind of window into the ministerial thinking. Anything he doesn’t happen to like, or can’t contend with, he simply pushes out of his mind. It isn’t there. Same thing with his LBGTQ clubs, discussed here last week. Someone surely warned him that they could well become officially sheltered havens for paedophilia. Any policeman who has dealt with this crime would certainly warn him of this, if asked.

Similarly, public health officialdom well knows the stats on homosexual suicide and on the various repulsive diseases to which certain sex practices often lead. “I’ll protect your rights 100 percent,” the minister officially informs the school children of Alberta. Protect them, that is, against their parents and teachers. Will he also protect them against the very real hazards along the path he is encouraging them to follow? No answer. Why? Because he can’t contend with the question. So the question isn’t there.

His final solution to the Trans Davis problem was to push her requests for an audience off on his deputy Curtis Clarke who in a letter to Dr. Tran-Davies comes to an astoundingly insolent conclusion: “We consider the matter of how mathematics is taught at individual schools closed at this time and will not be communicating further with you on this topic.” It is difficult to imagine a deputy minister in. say, the Ernest Manning or Lougheed government treating an obviously sincere and hard working citizen with such boorish contempt. He would have been fired before the day was done.

Mr. Clarke, however, is still very much there. But so is Dr. Trans Davis. She confessed  herself as at first stunned by the incivility of the reply. “I was taken aback, quite disturbed and upset by this. Am I being silenced? Am I being censored? Is this legal? Is it ethical? Is it democratic? Is it just? Is it right?” But her dismay didn’t last. She went straight back into the fight. And when the government’s new curriculum comes down, she’ll be right there waiting for it.

Ted Byfield was founder and publisher of Alberta Report news magazine, general editor of Alberta in the Twentieth Century. a 12-volume history of the province, and general editor of The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years, a 12-volume history of Christianity. His column on education appears in The Christians.com, a web journal. He has recently authored two little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters and The Revolution Nobody Covered. You can order both copies here.

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