Alberta Update (Part 2)

The following is an update from Marty Moore, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), regarding the Alberta Court of Appeal hearing on December 3 regarding Alberta Bill 24.

Please continue to pray for Alberta schools, the Court of Appeal justices and the legal counsel of JCCF.

The forwarded update follows:

__________________________

Dear Coalition Members,

I wanted to give you all a brief report from the hearing held today at the Court of Appeal in Calgary.

The hearing varied significantly in nature from the hearing at the lower court, with the Appeal Justices Shutz, McDonald and Pentelechuk, appearing to seriously consider harm facing children and schools.

For example, Justice McDonald interjected early in the Government’s oral argument to note that he was “troubled” by the course of events taken by the government, indicating that the Government’s threat of defunding looked like an “attempt by the government to coerce these litigants to give up their challenge.”

Justice Shutz likewise noted the government’s “credible” threats to take steps including defunding against non-compliant schools.  Justice Shutz went so far as to question the Government’s counsel on whether the lower court’s finding that schools’ accreditation and funding were not at risk was a “palpable and overriding error.”

Justice McDonald also found it a “bit troubling” that there was no delineation in Bill 24 between the treatment of 6 year olds and 17 year olds in regard to GSAs.  Justice Pentelechuk, who was only recently appointed to the Alberta Court of Appeal, was more quiet, but appeared to have a good grasp on the materials before the Court as well.

The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision, which will likely not be issued for a few months.  The Court has a significant volume of material and evidence, along with written and oral submissions from the Government, the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Justice Centre to consider in determining whether to stay provisions mandating secrecy concerning GSA and activities and to issue an injunction preventing the Government from taking adverse action, including defunding, against the noncompliant schools.

It is of course impossible to predict any court decision with a reliable measure of certainty.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement leading up to this hearing.

Warm regards,

Marty

Marty Moore, J.D.

Barrister and Solicitor

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

#253, 7620 Elbow Drive SW

Calgary, AB, T2V 1K2

Defending the constitutional freedoms of Canadians”

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Vision and Mission

The SSCE Board and the principal have been working on revising (tightening up) the Vision and Mission statements.

The old Vision statement read: To develop godly stewards who glorify Christ academically, spiritually, socially, and physically. The new Vision Statement now reads: To develop godly stewards who glorify Christ spiritually, academically, socially, and physically. The key difference is switching the order of ‘academically’ and ‘spiritually’ so that the spiritual focus comes first. That way, what we teach academically is filtered through our spiritual lens (and not the other way around). As a Christian school, I want to ensure that God’s Word stays the foundation and authority for why we do what we do.

The old Mission statement read: SCS exists to assist Christian parents by providing a Christ-centred education that prepares and challenges students to strengthen the family, serve the Church, and influence the world. The new Mission Statement now reads: SCS exists to assist families by providing a Christ-centred education that disciples students to strengthen the family, serve the Church, and influence the world.

There are two key changes in the Mission statement. The first change is moving from ‘Christian parents’ to ‘families.’ Over the years I’ve found it very difficult to define ‘Christian’ in a way that makes sense to everyone. The various denominations have differing ways of describing what makes a person a Christian. Every time I ask a parent if he or she is a Christian, I feel like I am taking on the role of the Holy Spirit. I can’t see the heart and asking me to pretend is not fair to me. Rather than relying on a person’s self-declaration on whether or not they are a Christian, I would rather focus on what the end goal of the family is. What do the parents want for their children? To what extent are the parents in agreement with our vision and mission? If the parents want their children to become ‘godly stewards who glorify Christ’ in every arena of life, then I want those families to feel welcome here.

The other key change is that we changed ‘prepares and challenges’ to ‘disciples’. Discipling carries with it the concept of preparing and challenging and so we could shorten the mission statement without sacrificing meaning. Also, discipleship carries with it the idea of sanctification (increasing in holiness; growing in resemblance to our Lord Jesus). This is what brings glory to Christ and this is what the world is lacking.

Alberta Update

In an earlier post, I commented on the challenge to Bill 24 by alternative schools in Alberta. There was an update on November 14 by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (www.jccf.ca):

RELEASE: Alberta Government again threatens to defund schools which do not remove religious content from school policies

Posted on Nov 14, 2018 in Justice UpdateLatest UpdatesNews Releases

  • Ministerial Order forces government’s “Safe and Caring” policies on independent schools that are non-compliant in Minister’s opinion
  • Minister continues to refuse to explain his opinion

The Justice Centre has responded to the Alberta Minister of Education’s Order to impose blanket government policies on schools who he has deemed non-compliant with section 45.1 of the Alberta School Act.

The Order, issued this morning, imposes a policy of the Minister’s creation onto schools whose policies, in his opinion, are non-compliant with section 45.1 of the School Act.

The Order effectively replaces the schools’ own policies, which respect the unique religious character and identity of each school, with policies mandated by government.

The Minister’s Order also requires schools to commit to collaborate against the constitutionally-protected interests of parents by agreeing to restrict information from parents about their young children’s activities in GSAs.

In September, the Minister gave notice to schools that they cannot include references to “truth”, “male and female”, the Bible, and other religious references, in their Safe and Caring policies.  Further correspondence (123) shows the Education Minister justifying his ban on faith references in religious school policies solely based on his opinion, without explaining (for example) how or why “truth” is contrary to “diversity.”

“The Minister’s Order to impose his will without explanation, regardless of child safety and regardless of parental rights that are protected by the Alberta Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, suggest this Order is not properly grounded in law,” states Jay Cameron, counsel for the Appellant schools and parents in the Bill 24 challenge.

The legal challenge to the constitutionality of sections of the School Act, including section 45.1, is ongoing. A court hearing is currently scheduled for December 3, 2018.

*************************************************************************************

With the court hearing coming up on December 3, let us take time to pray for this situation. The administrators and board members of the respective schools could use any encouragement we can give them as they have been in a difficult position over these last few months.

The court case will be heard at 10 am on December 3 in Calgary.

 

 

 

The Secondary Awards for 2018/2019

We have met as a staff and worked on adding a number of new awards for the secondary students. Below is a list of the new awards and their requirements. They will be in effect for this school year.

Academics:
Honour Roll
High Honours
Administrator’s List
Top Academic Award
Athletics:
Cougar
(for each sport)
Most Outstanding Player
(for each sport)
Most Improved Player
(for each sport)
Best Athlete
(9/10 M&F and 11/12 F&M)
SSSAD Spirit of Service Award
Character:
Spirit of SCS:
Workmanship – Intentional effort in all school subjects;
Spiritual – Displaying the Fruit of the Spirit and involved in church and outreach
Integrity – Committed to keeping and supporting all school rules
Respect – showing respect to teachers, fellow students, and the property of others
Extra-Curricular Involvement – serving the broader Christian school community by a willingness to attend and serve at non-compulsory activities
Attendance – being punctual and attending consistently
Phileo
Genuine friendship and concern for classmates
Perseverance
Diligence to assigned tasks
Petros
Godly development and testimony of body, mind, and spirit; being willing to stand alone for righteousness, regardless of who else is
Resiliency
Student who has endured extraordinary hardships with a positive, God-honouring testimony
Christian:
Berean
Displaying a love for God’s Word through study and application
Leadership
Exemplary Christian leadership characterized by participation ‘heartily, as unto the Lord’
Golden Apple
Memorizing the book of Proverbs ($400 monetary gift)
Silver Apple
Memorizing Proverbs 1-16 or 15-31 ($200 monetary gift)
Diakonos
Exemplary Christian service
Fine Arts:
Music
Outstanding music student based on leadership, scholarship, and character
Visual Arts
Outstanding visual arts student based on leadership, scholarship, and character
Drama
Outstanding drama student who has displayed consistency, creativity, strength of conviction, perseverance, enthusiasm, and co-operation in proclaiming the Word of God through drama
PAA:
Koinonia
Given to the top Commercial Cooking student based on academic achievement and hospitality mindset
The Thousand Word Award
Given to the top media arts student based on academic achievement, creativity, and attempts to glorify God

Remembrance Day Thoughts

The theme of our Remembrance Day Chapel this year was sacrifice. I wrote a few thoughts on the subject that I would like to share:

God set the example: Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them (Gen. 3:21). An animal, probably two since there were two tunics made, had to be killed to make the tunics. A life was required and blood had to be shed so that the ‘nakedness’ of humanity could be covered.

Abel was the first human to follow the example that God set: Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering (Gen. 4:4). Abel learned that blood needed to be shed in order to be made right with God; this required an animal sacrifice. By offering a blood sacrifice, Abel recognized that the ‘wages of sin is death’ (Rom. 6:23).

The first description of sacrifice includes love, a father, a son, and a substitute: Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a [sacrifice] burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you…Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Gen. 22:1-2, 13). This, of course, is a foreshadowing of the day when the Father, who loved His only Son, allowed His Son to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah (now called Calvary) in our stead.

A sacrifice carries with it the idea of a substitute: He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness (Lev. 16:7-10). The scapegoat took on the sin of the nation and was then sent out into the wilderness to die. This reminds us of the service men (and women) who were sent out to fight on the battlefields (also to die?) for us.

Finally, being willing to be a sacrifice is the greatest form of love we can display: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13). And this is how we arrive at Remembrance Day. We remember those who were willing to lay down their lives for love of country and love of their brothers (and sisters, later) in arms. Our soldiers were willing to sacrifice themselves so that we might have freedom (life): thank you!

-from those of us who benefit from your sacrifice without having to pay the price ourselves.

SCS’s New Dress Code

When I arrived here at SCS, I knew that many of the policies were going to be different from what I was used to at my last school. So, one of the first things I did was to read over the student handbook to familiarize myself with what I would need to know. After reading the handbook, I looked at the (old) website and noticed that several policies were repeated multiple times. The two policies that were repeated the most (with the most variations as well) were the discipline and dress code policies. I decided that we needed to work on revising both of them so that we would only have one of each. Knowing that dress code can be contentious (understatement, I know) I struck a committee with teachers, educational assistants, and administration so that a representative group would make the decisions. The only men on the committee were Mr. Long and myself. After meeting a number of times, we were able to create a new dress code for SCS. I have presented it in a chart form to compare it to the old dress code so that the differences would be readily available.

Old New
Saskatoon Christian School is committed to presenting a scriptural philosophy for the appearance, grooming, and dress of its faculty and students. We believe that this commitment helps create an atmosphere that promotes positive and appropriate behaviour and attitudes, maximizes learning, and fosters life learning in Christian character, spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Saskatoon Christian School is committed to presenting a scriptural philosophy for the appearance, grooming, and dress of its staff and students. We believe that this commitment helps create an atmosphere that promotes positive and appropriate behaviour and attitudes, maximizes learning, and fosters Christian character.

 

While God’s Word does not specifically address our attire as Christians, there are scriptural principles that guide our appearance; among them modesty, avoiding the appearance of evil, not conforming to the pattern of this world, and others.  The Saskatoon Christian School student dress code is based on the following principles and supporting scriptures: While God’s Word does not specifically address our attire as Christians, there are scriptural principles that guide our appearance. The Saskatoon Christian School Dress Code is based on the following principles and supporting scriptures:

 

  1.        How we dress should honour God and others

“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:17.

This is further developed through the following three principles:

1. Principle: Dignity

My appearance, grooming and dress should reflect a relationship with God. This means that I should wisely avoid styles that are inappropriate or are identified with individuals or groups that oppose God and/or scriptural truth. This also means that I should wisely dress in a way that others are attracted to the Christ-like character in me.

“So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10

Dignity – We are all made in the image of God. Our appearance, grooming and dress should reflect the dignity of God. This means we should dress in a way that others are attracted to the Christ-like character in us.

“So that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10

 

2. Principle: Modesty

My appearance, grooming, and dress should demonstrate an example of purity to those who see me. This means that I should wisely dress in a way that is modest (i.e., that does not call attention to my body.) This also means that I should not dress in a way that is sensual or might lead others to entertain impure thoughts or actions.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Ephesians 5:3

Decency – Our appearance, grooming, and dress should demonstrate an example of purity to those who see us. This means our attire should not call inappropriate attention to our body.

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Ephesians 5:3

 

3. Principle: Humility

My appearance, grooming, and dress should demonstrate deference (i.e., setting aside my Christian liberty to dress in any way I want, and instead dress so as not to offend a brother or sister in Christ.) This means that I should dress in a way that is sensitive to the genuine concerns of other Christians in each of these areas.

“Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this, not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Romans 14:13

Deference – Our appearance, grooming, and dress should demonstrate a setting aside of our Christian liberty to dress in any way we want, but, instead, dress so as not to offend a brother or sister in Christ. This means that we should dress in a way that is sensitive to the genuine concerns of other Christians in each of these areas.

“Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this, not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Romans 14:13

 

  How we dress should be based on the context

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

We work in a variety of contexts:

  • Outdoor education
  • Grad
  • PE
  • Bolivia
  • Classroom
  • Theme days
  • Other events
6.  Hats: Hats, caps, or other headgear may not be worn inside school buildings at any time.

7.  Hair:  Only “natural” hair colour is allowed at SCS.  Students with colours that are not considered “natural” colouring will be expected to change this immediately.

8.  Other:  Gothic fashion, which includes, but is not limited to, clothing, cosmetics and accessories, is not permitted.  Cosmetics should be moderate and natural in appearance.

Appearance Requirements

Attire must at all times be neat, clean, in good repair, and fitted properly.  Clothing and appearance should be non-distracting and appropriate for school activities; extremes in personal attire or appearance are not permitted.  Excessively tight, baggy, ripped or sloppy clothes are not allowed.  Clothing that advertises drugs, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, or has slogans of a suggestive, obscene, defiant, negative or ungodly nature shall not be worn or displayed.  Boys or girls may not dress or adorn themselves in a manner of the opposite gender. The school administration reserves the right to make all final judgments in this matter.

Appearance (refers to piercings, tattoos, hats/head coverings, hair)

  • General – all tattoo, jewelry, and clothing designs should be God-honouring
  • Jewelry may need to be removed/covered for specific activities (sports etc)
  • Hats/head coverings – May not be worn in the building from when entering the building to the closing bell
  • Attire must be neat, clean, in good repair (no rips/tears), and fitted properly (not excessively tight or baggy)

 

  Grooming

  • Personal hygiene – please practice good personal hygiene
  Dress (refers to how we dress)

Kindergarten to Grade 4

Dress appropriately for the weather and school activities

Please wear leggings/shorts underneath dresses/skirts

1. Shirts: Shirts that expose the midriff when performing everyday movements (sitting, reaching, twisting, bending over, etc.) are not permitted.  Shirts that expose the chest or cleavage, have gaping holes, or with necklines lower than modest V-necks such as deep-V or ‘scoop’ are also not permitted.  Halters or camisoles may not be worn as a shirt. Shirts that reveal the back, undergarments, or bra straps are also not allowed. Muscle shirts that are sleeveless are not allowed for boys. Girls must have at least 2 inches of fabric covering their shoulders.

 

Grade 5 – 12

Tops

  • Midriffs: no gap between the bottom of the shirt and the top of the pants when the student is sitting or standing
  • Undergarments must not be visible
  • Necklines may not expose the chest or cleavage, have gaping holes, or have necklines lower than modest V-necks (deep-V or ‘scoop’)
  • Boys: shirts must have sleeves

Girls: shirts must have a minimum of two inches of fabric covering the shoulders

2. Pants/Shorts: Pants and shorts must stay on the hips (hands-free) or else be belted and must be worn so that undergarments and midriff do not show (6” inseam). Shorts may not be shorter than four inches above the kneecap. Leggings are allowed if pants, shorts, long tunic or skirts is worn over top. Leggings are not pants.

3. Skirts/rompers/Dresses: Hemlines for skirts and dresses shall not be more than four inches above the kneecap.  Slits in material must not come above 4”above the kneecap. Sheer fabrics are not allowed. Skirts must stay on hips (hands-free) or else be belted and must be worn so that undergarments and midriff do not show.

Bottoms

  • Must cover the bottom and undergarments in every position
  • No pajamas may be worn
  • Skirts/skorts/shorts/dresses must be mid-thigh or longer in length
  • Clingy legwear (spandex/yoga pants/leggings) may only be worn under attire that meets the mid-thigh rule
  • Bottoms must stay on the hips (hands-free) or else be belted and must be worn so that undergarments and midriff do not show

 

5.  Footwear: Shoes, socks must be worn by students at all times. Secondary students may wear footwear without socks. Shoes must be appropriate for regular school activities. Appropriate Footwear

  • Clean, firm-soled footwear, and non-marking (shoes, boots, sandals) appropriate for school activities

 

4. Outerwear: Jackets, coats, snow/ski pants may not be worn in the classroom. Students may wear hooded sweatshirts but not with the hoods up. Outerwear

  • Winter jackets and snow/ski pants may not be worn in the classroom

 

Dress Code Enforcement

The staff of Saskatoon Christian School will do its best to enforce the above requirements consistently, equitably, and with kindness and compassion.  Parents are likewise encouraged to instruct their children in making wise, God-honouring clothing and grooming decisions, and to support the school in its efforts to regulate student dress.  The adage, “If in doubt, don’t wear it” is the general guideline to follow.  The staff will review all questionable instances of dress code violations with the administrator as the final authority in matters involving hair length, neatness, extremes in appearance, and other aspects of grooming.  In the case of dress code issues, students will not be permitted to return to class until their dress or appearance has been corrected.  If there are repeat situations, his/her parents will be notified.

The staff of Saskatoon Christian School will do its best to enforce the above requirements consistently, equitably, and with kindness and compassion. Parents are likewise encouraged to instruct their children in making wise, God-honouring clothing and grooming decisions, and to support the school in its efforts to regulate student dress. The adage, “If in doubt, don’t wear it” is the general guideline to follow. The staff will review all questionable instances of dress code violations with the administrator as the final authority. In the case of dress code issues, students will not be permitted to return to class until their dress or appearance has been corrected. If there are repeat situations, the parents will be notified.

 

The Saskatoon Christian School student dress code shall be in effect at all times and at all events or activities at SCS.  Teachers have the authority to establish additional guidelines for the attire of their students based on the needs of the classroom and student safety. Activity sponsors may impose additional requirements for students participating in school activities and adherence to these guidelines is necessary for participation in the activity or sport.  The administrator has the final authority to evaluate styles in clothing and grooming to determine their appropriateness for school functions. The administration may waive dress requirements for educational activities, extenuating circumstances, and special school functions or occasions when appropriate. The Saskatoon Christian School student dress code shall be in effect for all students participating in SCS events or activities. Teachers have the authority to establish additional guidelines for the attire of their students based on classroom activity (PE) or student safety. Activity sponsors may impose additional requirements for students participating in school activities and adherence to these guidelines will be required to participate in that activity or sport. The administrator has the final authority to evaluate dress code issues. The administration may waive dress code requirements for particular educational activities, extenuating circumstances, special school functions, or other occasions as appropriate.

 

Math Part 2

Secondary math at SCS has been a topic of conversation and discussion for several weeks. I knew I had information, but I did not know the ‘why’ behind some of the information. I now have some of that why.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are all part of the Western Canadian Math Protocol and, as such, have the same math outcomes for K-12 in all four provinces. By doing a little research, it is easy to find a provincial ranking based on a variety of standardized assessments that are offered Canada wide. The results are not comparable except for the math results for the four Western provinces. The provincial ranking is as follows:

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and, at the bottom of the rankings, Saskatchewan.  I had asked myself the question as to why the rankings were as they are. Are teachers in Saskatchewan any less prepared? Are the students in Manitoba not as smart as those in Alberta? Once answer I had arrived at was regarding teaching strategies. I still think teaching strategies plays a role, but there is a much larger factor that I have recently discovered. Let’s review the rankings with a bit more information:

Rank Province Hrs of instruction
2 BC 120
1 AB 125
4 SK 100
3 MB 110

The hours of instruction refers to the number of hours of instruction a student can expect in a high school classroom before professional development days and other holidays are deducted. The reality for SK students is that they receive roughly 80 hours of instruction by the time the PD days, parent teacher interviews, and field trips/other events are removed. BC students receive around 110 hours of instruction with the same parameters. That means that BC students receive approximately one month more classroom instruction time that SK students for the identical content. It is no surprise, then, to see that BC and AB students perform better on standardized tests than SK students.

Why is there such a difference in time? I can’t speak to AB and MB, but I can use BC as an example. In BC, high school students are required to take eight courses a year (four in each semester) with a grade 10-12 minimum total of 21 courses required. In SK, high school students are required to take ten courses a year (five in each semester) with a grade 10-12 minimum total of 24 courses required. In other words, SK students skim more courses than BC students and BC students delve deeper into fewer courses than SK students.

So, what do I do with this information? There are two courses of action I can take given the number of students (and sections of each class) that currently attend SCS. The first option is to offer an after-school math club where a tutor would be hired to offer inquiry-based (or project-based) math learning. The tutor would develop various real-life questions or projects that would strengthen math understanding. This club would be open to all high school students.

The second option, pursuant to parental interest, would be to change the current timetable for our grade 11 and 12 students. Currently students take five courses per semester. In the new format, we would offer students four courses in one semester and five courses in the other semester. In the four course semester, students would get 120 hours of instruction and in the five course semester, students would get the regular 100 hours of instruction. The four course semester (only for grade 11-12 students) include a math and a science course at the 20 and 30 level (for example, Pre-Calculus/Foundations 20 and Physical Science 20 AND Pre-Calculus/Foundations 30 and Biology 30. The other two courses would be non-science/math courses such as ELA or History or anything else along those lines. Students in grade 11 or 12 would only be able to take nine courses, but they would have the equivalent of one extra month of classroom instruction in the courses they take during that semester. Students from grades 1-12 need 24 credits to graduate; this timetable format allows students to obtain 28 credits if they want.