Alberta's Students Need a Stronger Independent School Sector



November 7, 2018

Think tank Cardus is calling for increased independent school enrollment to help spur public school improvement and accountability. The proposal is part of Better is Possible, an analysis of education research by Cardus President and CEO Michael Van Pelt. If provincial governments increased independent schools’ share of all enrollment by five to 10 percent the sector would be large enough to provide parents with a stronger alternative without system-wide disruption. That’s especially important in Alberta, where independent schools serve less than five percent of K-12 students.

“A strong independent school sector in Alberta will do more to help improve the entire education system than any regulatory or curriculum change,” says Van Pelt. “If the independent sector were large enough, it would force public schools to up their game.”

Van Pelt says Alberta public schools urgently need to do better.

“Dismal math performance at Alberta public schools has persisted for years while government and unions have had a lock on 95 percent of schooling,” he says. “A modest shift in responsibility would help the entire system. We’ve seen internationally that education systems with stronger independent sectors have higher student achievement levels, higher parent satisfaction, and better money management.”

Better is Possible outlines five possible actions for the Alberta provincial government to take:

  • Increase financial resources to expand independent school options for special needs students
  • Increase per-student funding for independent schools
  • Approve independent school funding on a five-year basis to give schools financial stability
  • Reduce the regulatory burden on independent school start-ups or expansions
  • Offer a transportation subsidy to parents wanting to send their kids to independent schools

To book an interview with Michael Van Pelt, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.