Parents' voices can make a difference
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It would appear that the adage of "a squeaking wheel gets the grease" is true ... even when it comes to education.
After a public hue and cry over a decision to completely change the rules that pertained to kindergarten education, Blue Water District School Board has pulled in its horns and decided to keep the status quo.
The decision was handed down at the Blue Water Board meeting held Tuesday at the Bluewater District School Board (BWDSB) in Chesley.
While the Board attempted to 'smooth the waters' of what was seen as "community angst", many parents in attendance were still disgruntled with the Board's lack of consultation.
Despite an apology by Mary Anne Alton, Director of Education, that an error in communication had been made, she said that she "... hoped that at the end of the day, decisions being made were about the children."
Three delegations presented painted a different picture.
Parent, Miranda Miller, expressed her frustration and disbelief with the Board. "They are not willing to change," she said, "and they are not listening to a word that people are saying. This JK-SK issue is another communications fiasco. It was only after extensive public meetings and consultations and media pressure that the Board was forced to act. They still haven't acted on most of the recommendations that were made, such as having board meetings in the evenings and at different venues so that more parents could attend."
Lesa McDougall, representing the Bluewater Citizens for Education, a group organized a year ago to "... advocate for public education that puts students first in word and deed", presented its areas of concern:
Jan Johnstone, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee charged with kindergarten schedule options, presented recommendations decided upon by the committee:
After a lengthy debate over wording, that necessitated a recess, the issue was 'brought to question' by Trustee John Chapman which, in effect, ended all debate. The result was an immediate vote being taken, despite the fact that the Ad Hoc Chair, Johnstone, wanted a further amendment regarding the date of the annual meeting.
Johnstone wanted to introduce a new annual meeting date of January or February, feeling that March was too close to the end of the school year to make any final decisions and the timeline was "too tight".
According to parents who attended the Board meeting on Tuesday, "...the concerns brought forward by the JK/SK parents, daycares and other community partners are not new and the fact they have reared their heads, not even a year after the results of the satisfaction surveys were released, again suggests significant improvements in [Board] communications are still necessary."
In a report presented by Miranda Miller, parents, community and media enquiries to the Board were met with the statement that "... it was a Ministry of Education directive and that nothing could be done ..."
In the meantime, a representative of the Ministry of Education said that Bluewater's kindergarten schedule changes were "absolutely not" a provincially mandated matter.
In any event, at the end of the day, Kindergarten is back to the status quo ... for now.
books, sports, movies ...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010