Tag: foundation

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”

Advertisements

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.

 

 

 

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.

Death Valley

As a child, I loved our Christmas holidays. Every year we would burrow into our VW Rabbit and head down to California for a two-week skiing holiday. We would share a house with our extended family and spend the two weeks skiing, hiking, travelling to natural hot springs, and visiting with family. On the way home (if we were visiting our family in greater Los Angeles), we would sometimes swing through Death Valley .

Death Valley is the lowest point (over 30 metres BELOW sea level) in North America and a desert.

Image result for death valley

The surrounding mountains would be cloaked with snow and there was the odd winter that featured snow on the desert floor.

Image result for snow in death valleyImage result for snow in death valley

Driving through, we could see the tracks of the borax wagon trains and see where seasonal rivers (flash floods) had carved paths.

Image result for snow in death valleyImage result for dried riverbed in death valley

Most years we drove through, we saw no flourishing plant life. There may have been the odd Joshua tree or other cacti, flowers withered on their stems, or the frequent bleached logs.

Image result for joshua trees in death valleyImage result for death valley

One year we decided to visit our extended family in Los Angeles in the summer. My dad rarely had time off in the summer, but one year we did. My dad wanted to see Death Valley in the summer, so we drove through and saw the same valleys covered in wildflowers. As the winter snow melted (in the valley and from the surrounding mountains) the flowers had been provided with sufficient moisture to germinate and flower (ever so briefly). The appearance changed so dramatically, it was hard to believe that we drove through the same valley. It was amazing to see what a bit of water could do.

Image result for death valley

All of this is a lead-in to the verses I just recently re-read in Isaiah. Isaiah 43:1b-3a, 19 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed youI have called you by your  name; You are MineWhen you pass through the waters, will be with youAnd through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For am the Lord your GodThe Holy One of Israel, your Savior; 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

We have such amazing promises in these few verses. First, God has redeemed us. He found us where we were but did not leave us there. He is making something wonderful in and through us. Second, He shows us how precious we are to Him by announcing that we are His. (Everyone else, hands off!) Third, God promises that He will be with us when we pass through the waters and walk through the flames (trials and tribulations). Finally, we have His promise that He will make roads in the wilderness and call forth rivers in the desert.

Sometimes we feel like we are in the desert: nothing seems to be flourishing and the little life that is there seems to be all prickles. And yet….

When the waters come, there is life in abundance.

And God promises to provide that water.

I can’t wait to see what God will do this year. He will provide water and we will flourish. I don’t know how or where the water will come from, but that is not important. What is important is that we wait upon God and His timing for the waters (of blessing) to come. Let us do our part in being faithful to His Word and then He will do His part (in His timing) and bring the blessing that only He can give. That way all glory belongs to Him and we will have the privilege of praising His name.

The Politics of Distraction

This is the first of two articles by John Hattie that I would like to share with you. [I will comment on what I quote within square brackets.]

Hattie’s fundamental argument is that the ‘minimum goal of education, when rightly expressed, should be for all students to make at least one year’s progress for one year’s input, no matter where they start.’ [This is a good basic assumption. Where we go from here is to look at the various suggestions that Hattie makes to ensure that this happens.] Hattie then argues that ministries of education have good intentions, but often the good intentions do not lead to where we need to go. Hattie explains that political leaders and department officials often struggle with the ‘variability in the effectiveness of what happens at the classroom level and instead focus on policies which are politically attractive but which have been shown to have little effect on improving student learning…. The typically expensive proposals…distract us from implementing policies that can make a significant difference, defined here as interventions with an effect size of at least 0.4, the average expected effect size for one year of progress in school.’ [As an administrator, I am all about student learning. How can we, as an administrative team, help our students make one year’s worth of progress with one year’s worth of teaching. Some of Hattie’s suggestions will work at the school level; other suggestions need to be made at the provincial level and so we don’t really have a large say on that issue. Let’s start to consider Hattie’s various suggestions.]

‘Fix the Infrastructure

We need more sophisticated diagnostic tools to help teachers ascertain each student’s recent successes and work out the best way for them to progress to the next level.’ [This is true for us here at SCS. There are a variety of assessments we need to complete by virtue of being an associate school. However, there are other assessments that we will start to implement next year that have not been used at SCS in the past. The two main areas across all grades is literacy and numeracy. There is a simple literacy test that we can implement for grades K-6. We will then look for some assessment tools for literacy from grades 7-12. I also have a numeracy assessment tool that we can use for K-8; we then need to find a good tool for grades 9-12. Once we have these tools, we can start tracking students and seeing where we need to make adjustments and which adjustments we need to make. That will help us move forward with each student.]

‘The art of teaching is to balance the need for surface knowledge with deep processing of this knowledge. Deeper thinking skills need content on which to work. You cannot use deeper-thinking skills unless you have something to think about.’ [This has been something I have argued for years. Students need a lot of background knowledge before they can be asked to think critically about it. So let’s give them the background knowledge and then challenge them to evaluate that information critically. This would not require a big change at SCS; it is more that the teachers just need to be more intentional about doing this. In other words, we do this; we just need to know that we are deliberately choosing to do this.]

‘Fix the Teachers

Teachers attain additional expertise (such as studying to become a learning-difficulties coach, assessment coach or literacy coach) and take responsibility for improving the skills of their fellow teachers within a school.’ [This is something that we at SCS already do in some of the elementary grades. We have a data team that is getting further training in assessment and instructional strategies and bringing that information back to SCS and then sharing it with the other teachers in the elementary. It does not work quite the same way in the secondary grades, but several of our staff are also very involved in acquiring greater expertise in the secondary subject areas and then bringing that information back to the secondary departments. We have seen how beneficial this is at SCS. The only real change that needs to happen here is that the efforts should be documented so that we can be even more intentional in making this happen. (Much of what has been done has not been documented and so is not well known.) As we become aware of other areas that are less developed, we will start to send staff to get further training in those areas so that we can help improve the entire teaching staff. This form of professional development has been shown to be the most effective style of professional development.]

Bibliography

Hattie, J. (June 2015). What Doesn’t Work in Education: The politics of distraction. Pearson.

PCAP 2016

SCS just received the results for the latest PCAP (Pan-Canadian Assessment Program) results; this assessment is for grade 8 students. The focus for this year was reading. There are two ways of looking at the data. The first way is to look at how many grade 8 students were able to read well enough to ‘participate effectively in school and in everyday life’ (PCAP 2016 Highlights, http://www.cmec.ca). In this way of looking at the data, Saskatchewan students performed well: 90% of students were able to read at that level.

A second way of looking at the data is to compare Saskatchewan to the rest of Canada. In that way, students in Saskatchewan did not do as well as the Canadian average. The mean score for Canada was 507 while the mean score for Saskatchewan was 491 (a difference in mean score of 16). This, in my mind, is somewhat concerning but something that we, at SCS, can and will address next year.

One other piece of interesting data, based on the work I did for my dissertation, has to do with the differing results between boys and girls. I will quote the pertaining paragraphs from the document: ‘Girls performed significantly better than boys…on the overall reading assessment, as well as in each of the four subdomains…. [G]irls outperformed boys by 27 points in Canada as a whole….Boys were more likely to perform at Level 1 – that is, below expected levels of reading proficiency – and were less likely than girls to achieve Level 3 for Canada as a whole’ (PCAP 2016 Highlights, http://www.cmec.ca).

For May 25 and June 1, I will share some thoughts from John Hattie (a researcher from Australia) on changes we can make to improve the academic standing of our students here at SCS.