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Educational Issues and Social Change Essay Sample

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Educational Issues and Social Change Essay Sample

The Roman Catholic and the Protestants were the first to establish schools in what now is called Alberta. By then the schools were charging a nominal fee to the students which was meant to be a sign of solidarity among the local people. Nowadays, there are three bodies that govern the education of Canada and that is local, federal and provincial government. The issue of curriculum is developed and implemented at the provincial level. Education in Canada is compulsory and the students are expected to leave the school at the age of between 14 and 18 years. It starts from primary, secondary and post secondary level, that is, colleges and universities. “The educational change in Canada was initiated by the provincial government in a place called Alberta.” (Research in Education,1971).  The main reason of initiating the education reforms in Canada was because they wanted to make the education in Canada meaningful and successful. However, the initiative brought about a controversy among the public whether the reforms are appropriate and the effect they will have to the society in general. The ideology that exemplifies the attitude toward education was a structural functionalistic perspective one.

It was meant to change the operations of the schools. The perspective aimed at giving the mandate of controlling schools to the provincial department of education from the school boards. Individual schools were also allowed to take control of their daily chores. The issue of educational finance, accountability measure as well as selecting of school governing body was shifted from the school boards and responsibility given to the provincial department of education. The Alberta legislature has the capacity to control and regulate the system of education in Canada as well as the school boards. “The first public school was established in a place called Edmonton in the year 1881 and the place is now referred to as Alberta.” (Society for the Advancement of Education, 1965) The whole community started to have access to the public education between 1883 and 1905 and the system was initiated by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Up to date there are so many educational issues and social change that have taken place in Alberta education. Some of the contentious issues in Alberta education are:  The controversy between the school board of governors and the province about who should control as well as who owns the school and local facilities. School boards had the opinion that there are limited resources for funding the school. School boards trustees require the balance of power to be harmonized with that of the province.

Electoral committee of employees, school boards need to be clearly outlined. These issues also affected private schools, charter schools and home schooling either. The most educational change in Alberta that brought significant change is the emergence of Francophone education authorities. The Francophone was reacting to the adoption of the Canadian charter of rights that was enacted in 1982. Some authorities provide public and separate education and in other areas the school board had to interfere if the number does not warrant. However, even after the introduction of the education, the budget was very low and this demotivated students as well as the classroom teacher because the support was not enough. The words such as “fear, anger, disbelief, frustration and bewilderment” (Alison T. 2001) have been used to refer to the way situation is after the changes made in education by the government of Alberta.

I have identified a shift toward a more neo-conservative perspective because the provincial government made changes which were directed to reducing the funds for kindergarten as well as the exam fees charged by schools and the initiative was to reduce the debts incurred by the system. However, (Wayne J 2006) tends to disagree with the claim saying that “the changes were meant to motivate more by ultraconservative “ideological and political” beliefs than by fiscal need.” He also argued that in educational reforms going on in Alberta there is no pedagogical basis or the main reason for doing so. It is quite interesting for Zijian (2006) had similar perception about the whole educational restructuring phenomenon in Alberta. Their argument was based on the fact that the reformers paid attention to organizational and government issues ignoring the core of the matter that is curriculum and instructional matters. Demise and Brenda (2006), came to a conclusion that the restructuring movements was initiated and emerged because of “narrow economic concerns, private interests and strongly conservative values.”

According to Bridget and Cathy (2005), Alberta government’s decision to make changes in school boards and adapt to societal changes came under heavy criticism from educational stakeholders. The negative impacts it had on the students, parents and educators were nothing to smile about. The issue that was raised about how the government made role changes motivates and make sure the measures is accountable.

When the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) visited Alberta in 1994, they discussed about educational differences and similarities between Canada and other countries. The information and data report was subject to alteration in case a contentious issue arises. The ideology was meant to reduce the government spending and this was the reason why the government was elected after massive campaign towards educational change. The Alberta government was supported by the majority for they believed that the education system was going to change to the better. “Parents, teachers and even school boards had the opinion that the change will conform to an extremely conservative political philosophy.” (Joseph, 1995)

 The majority believed that a definite shift towards neo-conservatism needs to be embraced. This will enable the views of teachers, nurses, professors, social workers and medical doctors to be put in consideration. The criticism was that the government acted or applied anti-intellectual and coercive means to implement its educational changes. The use of “power thrust” by the government in its effort to reform education sector was evident in other perceptions from the ASCD representatives.  Some of the significant outcomes were students having access to testing programs, increasing student-teacher accountability and creating opportunities for parents and community members in decision making process.

A few individual differed with the administrators saying that the system will be administration bound and bureaucratic especially where the recruitment of school superintendents by school boards was to be centralized. The system became effective and nowadays it makes sure that money collected by local authority is remitted to the Alberta provincial government.  To summarize, Alberta education issues and social change have brought dramatic changes in the whole system of education in Canada. The structural functionalist perspective has made the country to shift towards neo-conservatism that will be of benefit to the society. However, there is a government initiative that seeks to “improve student learning and performance by collecting their views of needs in each and every community.” (Educational Research Information center, 2006). Thanks to the initiative for it will have positive significance to the individuals and society in general.


Alison Taylor (2001) The politics of Educational Reform in Alberta:  London: University of London.

Bridget Somekh, Cathy Lewin, (2005) Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A guide for Students and Researchers. New York: SAGE

Denise E. Armstrong, Brenda J. McMahon (2006) Inclusion in Urban Educational Environments: Addressing issues of Diversity, Equity and Social justice. New York: IAP

Educational Research Information Center (U.S) 1971, (Digitized 22 Mar 2006). Research in Education, Michigan, Michigan University Press

Joseph I. Zajda,(1995) Excellence and Quality in Education. New York: James Nicholas Publisher.

John Dewey, (2005)Philosophy of Education. Illinois: University of Illinois.

Society for the Advancement of Education (1965), (Digitized 3 Jul 2007). School and Society, Michigan, Michigan University Press

Wayne J. Krepel, (2006) Education and Education related serials. New York: Hamar University Press.

Zijian Li, (2006) School Improvement: International Perspectives. New York: Nova Publishers

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