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Shifting symbols, sinking sand: The increasing bureaucratic control of Alberta’s children

Family, in its varying expressions, forms the bedrock of societal wellbeing. Increasingly, the crumbling of parental rights, resulting from a lack of a cohesive family policy infrastructure, is eroding the freedom, agency and constitutional right of Alberta’s families. Shifting cultural symbols are responsible for the public discourse quagmire and the consequences are felt as the government and its bureaucratic hand seeks to not only control but also formatively “parent” Alberta’s children. Most recent and notable efforts are the pursuit of government funded pilot daycare programs and the impending overhaul of Alberta’s curriculum.

The struggle for symbolic cultural control signal a new era of a colonizing and hegemonic meta-narrative legitimizing identity politics, gender deconstructionism, intolerance of diverse religious beliefs, a weakening of parental rights and a rise of pre-determined cultural norms propaganda. A prime example is the environmentalist push and opposition to the natural resource sector development and its pathways into the curriculum. Alberta’s children are not immune to this narrative or virtue signals. Governmental policies grant greater power to bureaucrats as cultural reproducers of pre-defined and pre-determined cultural values and norms, and thus mediate a bureaucratically controlled public discourse frequently in opposition to freedom of choice, parental rights and control, or religious beliefs. Alberta’s children are collateral to a post-truth agenda.

Increasingly as schools and daycare centers become public sites for the struggle for cultural and generational control, we must ask what the long-term impact of this subversive silencing of family choices, interests, needs and rights will be, and particularly on children's overall developmental outcomes. How have we collectively acquiesced to the discourse on inclusion, diversity and tolerance to preclude the preferences and choices of the many in favour of the continual pandering to the outcry of a select few (ie. paid pipeline protestors)? Why have we allowed the discourses on "rights" to erode and delegitimize our freedoms as outlined in the Canadian constitution? What’s more, what has become of principled pluralism and respect for diverse democratic expressions? Ultimately, how will we collectively rise to defend parents as stakeholders in educational settings, with the full right to freedom of choice, freedom of belief and conscience? How are we empowering parents as partners in pedagogical dialogue to protect their children’s rights to non-discrimination, autonomy and individuality, no matter their religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds?

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