We should all be angry at school closures
A parent says the decision to close Pearson and Bateman was not a good one
The closing of Robert Bateman High School and Pearson High School in Burlington should make every citizen angry. You might argue that it’s not your kids, or your school, our even your school board, therefore it’s not your problem. But here is why it should be.
The citizens of Burlington have been grossly let down by the very people we have elected to be our collective voice. They are the same people we trusted to put our needs and the needs of our children first. They have failed us. These elected officials who promised to hear our voices as we advocated for some of the most vulnerable among us have turned their backs on us and were deaf to our questions, our ideas, and our pleas.
The closing of schools is a hot-button issue and it shouldn’t be treated lightly by the people we elect to run our city. What other issues will go by the wayside because a city council has refused to take a stand on such an important issue.
Be furious that our Mayor Rick Goldring and his council voted down the motion to become involved in school closures while Goldring stated, “the process by which this decision is being made could be improved, noting what was missing was no clear understanding of how schools were identified for possible closure.”
Be angry that even though Goldring acknowledged that the process was unclear and flawed, our city council still voted to sit on their hands. Meanwhile, the fate of thousands of students was left in the hands of a director of education who admitted the school board had a problem with communicating to the public. Clearly, his band of eleven trustees were little more than puppets.
Be skeptical of a director who changed his initial recommendation without ever clearly stating his reasons. Be incensed that the school closure process pitted school against school and community against community. Be concerned that the process that will affect the lives of almost 1,000 families took less than seven months to draw to a flawed conclusion.
Be outraged at the unwillingness of the 11 trustees who chose not to ask for more time to thoroughly research any options outside of closing schools. Solid options such as dual campuses, boundary review, and community partnership received little but lip service.
Be alarmed that critical issues involving our schools were not addressed and so other schools in the community will still be 140 per cent overcapacity. Where is the concern for those students and their quality of education as they are stuffed like sardines into portables with overtaxed teachers and resources.
Be suspicious of the board’s promises that transitions and upgrades to existing facilities will be better than those of schools that are closing when questions regarding funding and plans of action go unanswered.
Be annoyed that trustees failed to listen to the opinion of Ontario’s Advocate for Children and Youth that Bateman’s school model should be copied and not shut down. Ask yourself why would they close a completely accessible, recently retrofitted school that has a pool, professional kitchen, world-class auto body shop, the only IB program in the city, the largest group of community pathway and special need students and not other much older schools.
Then ask yourself, if city council voted not to become involved, why did a city councillor see fit to sit on the school closure committee and use, to her ward’s advantage, the breadth of knowledge, contacts, and tools at her disposal to aid one school under the disguise of a concerned parent?
Ask yourself, was that fair or was it a conflict of interest? We know the answer.
The people who really know what’s best for a child are the very people who raise them, whose support is daily and constant, whose struggle is real and potent. So why was their knowledge of what is best for their children completely ignored?
Do not idly sit by complacent with the thought that it’s not your problem. We elected these city officials and we elected these trustees and they have failed every single one of us.
Citizens of Burlington, you should be angry today because tomorrow it might be your child, your school, your board, your community whose voice is being ignored.
Heather Kuzyk has been a Burlington resident for 18 years and has a daughter who attends Robert Bateman High School.
Save Bateman supporters gathered out front of Robert Bateman High School, in March in an unsuccessful bid to keep the school from being closed.