It is time to question the direction that the public school system is headed–the cuts in funding, revised teaching responsibilities, a decrease in the number of local school boards, a centralized control of the system, and draconian legislation that creates an atmosphere of mistrust and confusion.
During the past three years, a series of the above events has been forced upon the school system, which has resulted in a deterioration of the quality of education in our school.
Local school boards now have increased responsibilities because of their increased areas. At the same time, they have fewer members that are forced to perform their duties under a law that can remove them from their elected office if they fail to comply with the directives of the Ministry of Education.
Not only will they be removed from their elected office, they will be prohibited from seeking another elected office for a period of five years.
School administrators have been informed they must implement changes in curriculum, changes in testing, changes in budgetary procedures, changes in staffing formulae, and changes in countless other aspects of the operation of their schools.
These changes came from Toronto with little or no time before they had to be implemented.
The confusion at the start of this school year did not happen only here in Rainy River District but also in a very large number of other schools across the province.
The changes in the curriculum similarly has impacted upon the classroom teachers. Several new courses of study were directed to be incorporated into the system these past two years. Unfortunately, publishers were unable to print the new textbooks in time for school start-up because they were not informed in a timely manner (two years in a row!)
Classroom teachers have had their workload considerably increased. This has resulted in each teacher being responsible for a greater number of students. And this increased responsibility results in each teacher being able to spend less time with individual students.
This is simple arithmetic–divide the number of students by the time allotment for each class, and subtract the hours for preparation of lessons and the marking of the assignments.
During the past three years, the students have experienced social, political, educational, and emotional turmoil. This means some students at the secondary school level have never had a “normal” school year experience.
It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Education, in its headlong rush to make sweeping changes in the public school system, has callously involved the students in its efforts to achieve their unpublished goals.
If these situations continue to exist, an educational system that was once one of the best in North America, and indeed in the western world, will be doomed to failure and the public school system will be dismantled.
What will replace the public school system in our province? Is it the plan of the government to create a private school system that allows parents to send their children to different schools?
If this is the case, and I believe that it is, then the overall quality, availability, and flexibility of the resulting educational system will be much poorer than a properly administrated and run public school system.
Small private schools cannot offer the range of courses or options that are presently offered in our high schools. Small private schools promote individual socio-economic, religious, ethnic, and racial differences.
We do not need this type of school system in our country. We need a strong viable public school system working in–and with–the community for the present and future generations.
Robin C. Freeman
Fort Frances, Ont.