Thursday’s letters: Charter schools offer the necessary competition

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The writer’s details are largely correct, and public education remains a wonderful part of Canadian civic life and social cohesion. However, the article ignores crucial parts of the story. When I, along with many others, succeeded in enforcing charters in Alberta in the 1990s, public education was a monopoly, diligently guarded by school boards, teacher unions, and education faculties.

Large numbers of parents felt that schools were not strict enough and that the monopoly did not listen. Businesses, technical institutions and universities began to complain that many graduates were not sufficiently prepared. Some parents openly rebelled and formed reform groups; others chose private schools and many others had started homeschooling.

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Charters had a lot to offer and still do. Embracing monopoly and becoming receptive to parents, businesses and post-secondary education institutions, insisting that fads in education be rejected if not supported by peer-reviewed research, and providing schools with different methods with open comparisons of outcomes has markedly improved public opinion. education system in Alberta.

Often ignored in the heated debate are opportunities for teachers who want to do better with like-minded peers, free from teacher unions. Charters also provide an opportunity for schools to achieve better outcomes with children from weaker socio-economic backgrounds. A little competition is integral to the charter idea. It is not intended to weaken the public system or provide some parents with a private option in disguise.

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Joe Freedman, Oakland, California.

Healthcare system must work seamlessly

Concerning. “Hospital staff deserve a break”, Letters, April 19

The problem is not the people; it’s the system. A system must work seamlessly from GP to diagnostics to specialist to acute to continuous care.

If you are admitted to a hospital, you will receive excellent care. The problem occurs when you have symptoms that are not acute. Your GP can refer you to a specialist and then you wait months. The specialist can request an MRI and you wait for months again. In the meantime, your illness continues.

A seamless system must work horizontally for the benefit of the patient, from one stage to the next. Our health system works vertically, with silos between each stage. I once asked a specialist how long the wait would be at the next stage. His answer: “I have no idea.” In other words, it’s out of reach.

This is not a system and it is the problem that needs to be addressed. How many people have deteriorated or even died while waiting? Still, we rate our “system” as the best in the world. It needs attention at the highest level. With the wave of baby boomers already upon us, we can’t wait.

Gabe Shelley, Edmonton

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