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Religious schools in the Alberta public school system

Canada has struggled with the role of religion in public schools throughout the past half-century. The debate in recent decades is complicated by the fact that Canada is now home to so many different religions. From questioning the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in class to wearing ceremonial daggers at school, the right to exercise one's religion in public school classrooms remains the subject of fierce debate in Canada.

In Alberta, the question of whether religious schools should be in the public school system is brought to a vote during the Calgary School Board elections in 1983. Supporters say religious public schools provide religious diversity to students at no financial cost, while opponents say religious schools have no place in the public system. School trustees vote seven to two to remove religious schools from the public system.
• In the late 1980s, the Alberta School Act was amended to allow school boards to establish alternative education programs that emphasized a particular language, culture, religion, subject-matter or use a particular teaching philosophy.
• In 1999, 1,000 students at one Alberta school signed a petition to have the Lord's Prayer reintroduced into their school. Despite the prayer's official status as unwelcome in the classroom, the school board agreed to provide a forum for Christian children to pray each morning.

• Two years later, in December 2001, the Calgary Board of Education voted unanimously to bring religious education back to public schools. They agreed to look at everything from having dedicated religious schools to system-wide religious education in all public schools in Calgary.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Oct. 18, 1983
Guest(s): Sandra Anderson, Ann Blough, Warren Stonnall
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Bob Nicholson
Duration: 2:11

Last updated: January 16, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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