Have a ringside seat for the predictable smear job they’ll try on Kenney’s education minister
When Premier Jason Kenney unveiled the list of his new cabinet last week, something of a slight gasp went through the media group when he named the new education minister. It was to be Adriana LaGrange. The contrast with David Eggen, education minister in the outgoing NDP government, could hardly have been greater. Hence the gasp.
The differences include, but also go far beyond the political. Mr. Eggen is a thorough- going socialist who saw the central ministerial role as essentially ideological, bringing about a socialist paradise converting other people’s children into leftwing demagogues like himself. In contrast, Mrs. LaGrange and her husband are business people, running a trucking company and a sizeable farm operation.
Then too, Mr. Eggen insists that Christian schools should be forced under threat of de-funding to teach his government’s everything-goes attitude on sex. Mrs. LaGrange, as a practicing Catholic Christian, thinks Christian schools exist to preserve Christian teaching. on sex and on everything else. Beyond this, Mr. Eggen thinks the government has the right to propagate its political ideas through the school system. Mrs. LaGrange (one assumes) thinks that the government does not have that right.
The divide between them grows wider still on the issue of abortion. M. Eggen, one can safely surmise, is like nearly all the left strictly pro-choice. Mrs. LaGrange is a top leader of the pro-life cause in Red Deer, at one point organizing and sustaining a protest at a local hospital. It was for this that she was best known. Thence the gasp when she was appointed education minister.
But the gulf between them is sharper still on the Eggen administration’s dangerous intervention into the natural autonomy and authority of the family. Mr. Eggen sees the government as the true friend of children with a duty to protect them against what it considers incompetent parenthood. Mrs. LaGrange sees the parent, not the government, as the primary friend and guardian of the child. She and her husband have raised seven children and have three grandchildren. “Well, what do you know?” said one wag last week. “The socialist NDP takes office, throws out the parent, and empowers the bureaucracy. The Tories take over, empower the parent, and throw out the bureaucracy.”
Such a conclusion is unfortunately far from true. The educational bureaucracy is a long way from being thrown out. Adriana LaGrange has won two key battles by getting elected and becoming minister. But that’s as nothing when compared to the gargantuan tasks that now confront her.
Education in Alberta is conducted by four institutions, as it is through most of the United States. They are: the provincial (or state) bureaucracy, the faculties of education in the universities, the teachers unions, and the elected school boards. This would seem to make possible a broad range of philosophies and methodologies informing and directing what goes on in the classrooms. But that is not what has been happening.
As with many major human endeavours, certain fashions or methods gradually gain ascendancy. These soon become an orthodoxy whose embrace determines the success or failure and general standing of (in this case) the teacher and everybody else in the system. In other words our schools have become captive to radical left ideology.
This movement did not begin in the four calamitous years of NDP government, however. It goes far back to the Sixties in the great Tory era. It was established very quietly, without fanfare, or public announcements. One Conservative education minister after another tried in futility to disestablish it, and in the main failed. The change moved ever farther to the left until it reached what was for the leftward, the golden era of the NDP when every possible door was thrown open to it. But only briefly. Major curricular changes were begun by Mr. Eggen, but none was anywhere near finished.
So what’s going on now? Who knows? The whole curriculum must now be in turmoil, and this is the mess which has been handed Adriana LaGrange to somehow disentangle.
But that’s not her only problem. She also has whole legions of enemies deeply entrenched throughout the system. It includes not only the leaders who run some of those four institutions, but also their numberless sycophants who are wedded to the new orthodoxy because they’ve never known anything else. To these pitiful people, the new minister of education must appear as an object of horror.
No education degree. A pro-lifer. A devout Catholic Christian. Helps run the family trucking company and farm. Mother of seven children, grandmother of three. Obviously everything conceivable must be done to prevent such a dreadful woman from having any influence whatsoever on education in Alberta. Such, one can be sure, is the resolute intention of the left.
In short, Mrs. LaGrange must be politically destroyed. Her every move must be portrayed as evidence of her incompetence for the job. Yes, in order to achieve this, the truth will have to be stretched a little, some minor misquoting too perhaps, vague talk of her ineptness, lifting of eyebrows and shaking of head whenever she appears in public, that sort of thing. Unfair perhaps, but consider the nobility of the cause–the children of Alberta. Surely this absolves her critics from hewing too strictly to the truth.
All of which suggests that we’re about to witness a ruthless attempt at political assassination, much as was done successfully in the federal field against Stephen Harper, and unsuccessfully in the provincial against Jason Kenney. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll cover it in detail, and in this space I promise you a ringside seat.
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 aslo authored three little books on modern pedagogy: Why History Matters, The Revolution Nobody Covered and most recently The Time is Now. You can order copies here.