Minister of Education Is Doing The Right Thing For All The Wrong Reasons . . .

For those parents who have not been paying attention or don’t have any school age children this likely wont mean much to you. My hope is that you will read it anyway because ALL of us need to be concerned by these types of decisions. We are ALL affected by school closings since they affect the overall health of our communities.

The provincial government says they have put a halt to school closures–until they can come up with a ‘better’ plan and process for closing schools in the future. This sounds more to me like an election decision than one born from common sense and reason. Research and studies will suggest that it can be just as costly closing schools as it can be to refurbish them.There are more than a few questions that could be directed to Ms. Hunter regarding the decision making process she alluded to in a recent article announcing the government decision to halt school closures –for now. But above all we need to feel as though our elected officials can be trusted to safe guard our health care system, which includes the mental health system, and our system for educating our children. To quote Charles DeGaulle: “politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” Unfortunately, this government and many before it have proven this sentiment to be true.

There are programs and places where some cuts can be made but health care and education should not be on that chopping block. A cut made somewhere always creates a deficit somewhere else. Usually to the detriment of the taxpayer. If money is a determining factor perhaps our politicians would like to give back 20% of their yearly salaries to start that cost cutting process as a showing of good will. Like that is going to happen.¬†They throw us a bone or two every once in a while but often that bone is not near enough to justify the reduction of funding resulting in cut backs in services. Health care and education should never be sacrificed for a balanced budget. We should never grant permission to the ‘bean counters’ to make decisions as vital and important as any that would affect these two vulnerable systems.

Other provinces are becoming much more progressive and realistic concerning philosophical changes to how education is presented to the new learners of the 21st century. British Columbia is light years ahead of us and Alberta is showing signs of undergoing large changes in curriculum. So called experts have stated that we should not toy with the system because it has historically returned quality marks in international testing. There is no question that we are very good at how we are teaching the present curriculum. The problem is that the present curriculum is NOT RELEVANT any longer. Our system is still focused on providing a knowledge based system when the world does not require knowledge it requires imagination, innovation and creativity. These are the skills that will open the doors to prosperity and opportunity for our next generation of learners. Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”¬†

Points to ponder:

  1. I can understand that the public is concerned about any new approaches to educating our children but other countries have been doing what we are talking about for years now and have managed to become the top 5 growing economies in the world. They know something we don’t and have not been shy taking a chance to thrive. Mistakes are what we learn by. But a mistake here can be one that keeps us ‘safe’ and finding ourselves left behind in the global marketplace.
  2. Let’s work to put kids back into school instead of accepting decreasing enrolments. At the very least perhaps working harder to find out why kids are dropping out of school instead of learning and enjoying their educational experiences would be prudent. Dropping out could be related to the fact that kids find the current curriculum boring, uninteresting and not relevant. Might it also be that learners and parents are finally figuring out that secondary and post secondary education is expensive and does not adequately prepare learners for the demands of future global economies. No one really has a clue about what those demands will look like because of the dramatic growth of technology but we do know that they will be much different from what grads are presenting with today.
  3. If we could find a way to lower the drop out rate across Canada by 1% point we would save billions of dollars per year in costs to fund the demands of social services, police services, court services and medical and health services. In fact we may be called upon to provide more schools.
  4. Can we not be more creative around the use of empty school space in rural communities. Things like sharing space with medical clinics, senior programs, treatment programs, social programs, community centres for kids and daycare spaces could be options as well as renting empty space to small retail stores.
  5. If the trend continues private schools will continue to see increased enrolments in their programs. This despite the fact that parents still have to pay public school taxes regardless. That tells me that there is some concern on behalf of parents that the present system is not delivering what it advertises.

It’s time that parents and care givers began asking their trustees and representatives on school boards the important questions and do not leave until you get a straight answer. Pay attention folks-your child’s education and indeed their very futures depend on how diligent we are right now.

Anyway, that’s how I see it.

All the best, Jim

Please send this along to friends and family. Feedback or comments can be sent to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: Photo by linkedin.com. The photo is used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from using this image.

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