Education advocates spark backlash with tweets linking Charlottesville attack to alternative schools

An Alberta education advocacy group is being slammed on social media for suggesting the deadly violence last weekend in the United States is a cautionary tale against alternative schools.

'Congratulations for setting the stupid bar higher,' reads one reply on Twitter to SOS Alberta

The public education advocacy group SOS Alberta sparked a social media backlash by comparing the race-fuelled violence in Virginia last weekend to the issue of alternative schools in Alberta. (CBC)

An Alberta education advocacy group is being slammed on social media for suggesting the deadly violence last weekend in the United States is a cautionary tale against alternative schools.

Save Our Schools Alberta tweeted Sunday that the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., "reaffirms for us why we cannot afford to segregate our children [—] not by class, race, culture, religion or ability."

"If we separate our kids under the guise of choice we remove opportunities to celebrate diversity WITHIN schools," the group said in a second tweet.

A woman was killed and others injured Saturday when a car drove into a crowd of counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville.

SOS Alberta, which champions the cause of public education in the province, went on to list "some of the schools that exist in Alberta that segregate students."

The list included alternative programs such as French immersion, the Calgary Girls School and numerous private schools.

The comparison sparked many sharp rebuttals on Twitter.

"You've not only minimized what segregation really is for POC, you've minimized the importance of our other official language. Unacceptable," tweeted @KikiPlanet, who also said her long-time support of SOS Alberta will now end.

She said it's disgusting to suggest enrolling her child in a French immersion program amounts to segregation.

"Putting my daughter in French immersion honour Canada's other official language, encourages her understanding of this nation's French history, has nothing to do with segregation," she tweeted.

United Conservative Party leadership hopeful Jason Kenney also joined the debate.

Here are some of the other negative responses prompted by SOS Alberta's series of tweets:

Others on Twitter applauded SOS Alberta for its posts linking the Charlottesville attack with the school choice debate:

In an email to CBC News, SOS Alberta spokesperson Barbara Silva said the organization looks at the larger context of institutional systems that create barriers or inequality for children and that promote intolerance.

"Our goal in linking conversations to recent events in the U.S. was to proactively address, and dialogue around, all venues where barriers exist for students that can have the negative effect of dividing children along many lines," she said.