Charter Schools in Alberta: Change or Continuity in Progressive Conservative Education Policy?


  • Michael Wagner



The Progressive Conservative government of Premier Ralph Klein undertook an ambitious program of educational restructuring. Among other changes the government provided for the establishment of charter schools in the province. This was the first time that charter schools were to be allowed in Canada and led a number of observers to allege that this was a step toward the privatization of public education in Alberta. In other words, a radical change was taking place. However, a careful look at the education policy of Alberta's PC government reveals that it has consistently been favorable to private and quasi-private alternatives to public education. Many different policy decisions since the 1970s demonstrate this to be the case. Rather than being a radical change, then, the introduction of charter schools is simply an extension of the PC government's longstanding policy of promoting "educational choice."