Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Schools Make A Difference

Closing a school is a lot like breaking up a longtime love affair- it’s hard to do. School closure is a process that fills everyone involved with a sense of failure and loss, and the pain doesn’t go away quickly.
Some inner-city communities here in Edmonton are losing their schools, and their residents and the Edmonton Public School Board are feeling the pain. Residents know that the loss of their public school diminishes the intrinsic social value of their community and the market value of their homes. For Board members, closing schools is the exact opposite of what they want to be doing, which is growing public education.
Across Alberta, school closures are the inevitable result of changing demographics, past and current urban planning policies, rural depopulation, school board and Alberta Education policies, and community disengagement from public education. The reality is that most folks without kids in a community school don’t give a hoot about the school until the padlock looms. Then the community isolation from the school ends, but it’s much too late. School Board administrators present the public with the relevant provincial and local policies, the low enrollment numbers and the future projections of enrollment; all justifying the closure. The Board grits its’ teeth and closes the school.
Are school closures the predictable and inevitable? What can we do to strengthen the viability of community schools and public education?
Schools are vitally important to every one of us both socially and economically. That’s why community schools built, maintained, and staffed by public money should respond to local community needs. They are not the exclusive property of trustees, school administrators, teachers, students, or parents. School facilities should host and support community initiatives pertaining to adult education and family programs. Entire communities need to be involved in the design and program planning of new schools and retrofits of existing schools.
We need a public discussion on the allocation of the most important asset in public education- time. The amount of class time available for a child in a school day is the most valuable commodity in public education. Constant pressure on our schools to expand the curriculum, and the ever-increasing costs involved in public education make every in-school minute a priceless asset.
Then why in the name of sanity are so many school buses disgorging homeward-bound students in mid-day? On early dismissal days, some rural Alberta students spend more time on their school bus than they do in their classroom.
Would these kinds of changes save every school from closure? There will always be school closures that are painful for communities, trustees, and the students forced to relocate by the closure. That’s just an unpleasant fact. What is unacceptable is the continuation of the status quo.
What will change the status quo? Change will happen when ratepayers demand that their trustees and provincial politicians take actions protecting community schools and public education.
Public education is important to our youth, our communities, our economy, and our society, yet we only pay attention when it fails. The closure of schools across Alberta is a painful reminder that when it comes to public education issues, ignorance is NOT bliss.


  1. 當身處逆境時,要能忍一時之氣,吃一時之苦,並及早確立自己的目標,總有一天,你會嘗到那甘美的果實。.............................................