Letter to the Minister of Education

February 1, 2017

 

Hon. Mitzie Hunter

Minister of Education

Mowat Block 22nd Flr,

900 Bay St,

Toronto, ON M7A 1L2

 

School Closures in Prince Edward County

 

Dear Minister Hunter,

 

I am writing to invite you to meet with Constituents and Municipal Leaders in my area to discuss the Accommodation Review Committee process which is currently underway. I know you had the opportunity, at the ROMA conference to hear from municipal leaders and staff to discuss the potential negative impact the changes will have on their small towns.

Over the last few weeks, my office has experienced a high volume of calls, emails and letters about potential school closures in local communities. Parents in Bloomfield, Sophiasburgh, Madoc Township and across my riding and region are concerned that closing schools and forcing kids into ever-longer bus trips is not in the best interest of their kids or their community. One father from Ameliasburgh told me that the proposed plan would mean his kids would go from spending under two hours on the bus every day to spending almost four hours on the bus every day.

Other parents moved to the region recently largely because schools existed in the small towns where they wanted to live and Prince Edward County, in particular, had put considerable effort into attracting younger families with children to live and work there.  In the first day a petition was placed on my website, I heard from dozens of parents in the Bloomfield and Sophiasburgh areas who had recently moved there because of the County’s efforts only to find out that their school is now at risk of being closed.

The statistics being used by the ARC don’t reflect this new reality. As a result, the process carries a considerable long term risk of doing damage to communities that need these facilities to remain open. Please accept my invitation to meet with municipal leaders, including Mayor Quaiff and Councillor Roberts, with whom you discussed the ARC process with at ROMA. I look forward to your reply.

 

Regards,

 

Todd Smith, MPP

Prince Edward-Hastings

 

CC: Mayor Robert Quaiff, Prince Edward County


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  • commented 2017-02-14 16:10:24 -0500
    We know improvements can be made in education system and rural schools have a different challenge. If both public and high schools have low enrollment, we amalgamate. To force schools to close without feasible relocating offered, is irresponsible and I wonder if there isn’t more to the story than appears. A goal to shut down communities when residents move to provide their children with access to education. There is always a way to maintain smaller schools, we started out with one room, 6 grade schools, without going to this length, provide local education, don’t make life miserable because liberals have other goals. Parents involvement is a given but as with many services today, we are relying on more volunteers yet pay higher taxes. If those volunteers were paid a salary, the story would be different, if they quit, it would be a different story. Thanks, keep our schools open, downsize if necessary but no closures.
  • commented 2017-02-14 14:45:41 -0500
    There is absolutely no good excuse for local/rural school closures. The idea alone shows a clear misunderstanding of the function of rural schools, however it also, and probably even more so, displays a completely outdated or antiquated thinking about the function of schools in general. It represents the centuries old Latin school idea, which has been hampering innovations in modes of learning for a long time.
    Society is tilting from a vertically organized, centrally driven top-down society into a horizontal, decentralized, bottom-up society, linked through communities, cooperatives and virtual and physical networks, and this means that we should be gearing up for a completely new approach to learning where the community plays a central role in the curriculum. As a life long developmental psychologist and educator I have been involved in projects where the regular classroom setting was replaced with student organized structures, Especially in this day and age, with our access to so many different means of communication and access to infinite sources of information, the large consolidation school buildings are not only inefficient but redundant in their present functionality. These should function as regional centres where specialized training takes place, like shop, wood working, home ec. etc. The local schools could easily be run by a maximum 4-6 teachers or facilitators of learning. Central in these hubs should be the rural community itself, and appreciation of what is going on there, should be focus of studies from which can be extrapolated. No doubt you will get parental involvement to participate in the activities. You will most likely attract back into the system all the parents that have chosen to home school their kids. If you want to keep the schools in the community, you have to bring the community into the school. And maybe we can stop the brain drain from the rural communities, because we desperately need the bright lights to start and conduct the change of structures from the old economy which has already started to tilt towards the new economy, which is decentralized and digital.
    We are moving from: Traditional media (TV, radio) to new media (Internet). from newspaper Columns to blogs, traditional union to freelancers Union, large energy companies to local energy initiatives, commercial banks to financial cooperatives etc.
    Of course there is a lot more involved and we will need a lot of good thinking power at the local level.
  • commented 2017-02-09 16:58:35 -0500
    Inexcusable, a plan towards the bigger picture. Eliminate schools and doctors in rural areas, forcing people to rethink a move to the quieter communities. There is always a way around closures, we have to keep our children and families until it’s their choice to stay or move.
  • followed this page 2017-02-02 15:12:02 -0500