School Closures and the Problems it Poses to the Regiongreenspun.com : LUSENET : Ottawa School Closures : One Thread
The following article was written by Brian Gifford Brian.Gifford@cac.gc.ca, Chair of the Bayview School Council.
School Closures and the Problems it poses to the Region
The pending school closures will have a profound effect on our region, its plans for urban renewal and the quality of life and the quality of the educational experience of our children. Recently, the City of Hamilton decided, in the interests of the children and the well-being of their community, that they would not comply with the Minister's agenda.
Included in this email are my personal reflections on the issue of school closures and the process community parents are being forced to follow to select schools for closure.
Images that Haunt Me
There are three images that haunt me.
- The first comes from the Mutchmor SOS campaign information sheet. There is an invitation for neighbours to come and join hands around the school every Thursday morning - a vigil of hope and love for their school and all schools.
- The second comes from a CBO Radio interview of a mother in the east end of the city, where as many as 3 of the 12 elementary schools could close. In the interview, the mother expresses her frustration and sense of betrayal. Her family had bought their home in this quiet mature neighbourhood, near to the community school. It was a conscious decision in regard for the quality of life this would bring to their children. But the proposed closure of the school will shatter that dream and have a significant effect on the value of their home.
- Finally, a recent article in the Globe & Mail cites the difficulties being faced by a rural community with the closure of its school. The children from that school will be scattered by the wind of other schools, and with them, friendships will be lost and the heart and soul of that small rural community will be gone.
Schools mean so much more to communities than being simply centres of learning, should they be inner-city or rural schools. Why is it that so many elected officials or with authority for public education remain silent or seem to be so remote or unconcerned with the trauma such closures represent to the Province's children and their families?
The Closure Process
The closures in themselves are bad enough, but the process imposed by the Province to select schools for closure is nothing short of inhumane. The process asks community groups - essentially parents - to work with a mechanical and yet to be justified formula to nominate schools for closure.
These parents, while guided by facilitators charged to ensure the Province's rules are respected, are working in isolation of other groups and independent of other stakeholders, such as municipal officials and community associations also served by these schools. As a result, parents, neighbours, school councils and communities are being pitted against each other in defense of their schools. They feel isolated and alone as they fight for their schools, without any idea of views of the larger community surrounding our schools.
An Appeal for Help
I appeal for your help to express your concerns for this ill-conceived exercise and ask the Provincial Government and its Ministry of Education to drop and reconsider this very destructive approach to school closures. As a taxpayer, I can accept that in certain instances, a school should be closed. But when the rules are clearly arbitrary, when they have retroactive application to existing facilities, when the Ministry does not even pretend to explain, defend or otherwise justify its actions and when no allowances are made for the role these schools play to the fabric, integrity & well-being of local communities, then as a citizen, I find these rules very difficult to accept. I feel exploited and the target of state sanctioned violence principally aimed against families, without any real chance to undue actions which will have a profound long-term effect on our community and our society in general.
Schools are so much more that educational processing plants. Our children deserve to be treated better than inmates that are simply bused off for hours each day to & from overcrowded detention centres. They have as much a right to a reasonable quality of life as anyone else in this Province.
This is their world, their social setting that we are undermining, if we choose to remain silent. There simply has to be another way. I pray that you will act and voice your concerns and do what you can to end this exercise and prevent the harm that this process will impose on us all.
Sincerely, Brian Gifford, 7 Impala Crescent
-- Anonymous, October 27, 1998