Ex­tracur­ric­u­lar cuts may kill dream: mother

Woman tells school board daugh­ter’s goal to study mu­sic in jeop­ardy

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - SHAAMINI YOGARETNAM syo­g­a­ret­nam@ot­tawac­i­t­i­zen.com twit­ter.com/shaamini­why

Michelle Soldaat’s daugh­ter’s dream for the past three years was to study mu­sic at univer­sity. The lack of ex­tracur­ric­u­lars at her daugh­ter’s high school has jeop­ar­dized her daugh­ter’s chances of get­ting to pur­sue that dream, Soldaat told a room­ful of trustees and board em­ploy­ees at Tues­day night’s Ot­tawa- Car­leton District School Board meet­ing.

“At her high school she has no band, choir, mu­si­cal or any other re­lated mu­si­cal op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause th­ese are con­sid­ered ex­tracur­ric­u­lar,” Soldaat said. “So now that she’s com­pet­ing to go to univer­sity, she’s com­pet­ing against all stu­dents who have had th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing many in this board.

Soldaat called the in­sis­tence that the elim­i­na­tion of ex­tracur­ric­u­lars isn’t hurt­ing stu­dents a “lie.”

“There’s no ques­tion that my daugh­ter’s chance of get­ting into a mu­sic pro­gram in univer­sity is greatly re­duced be­cause she has not had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties,” Soldaat said at the pub­lic meet­ing.

Soldaat was one of a hand­ful of frus­trated par­ents that showed up at the meet­ing and asked the board ques­tions di­rectly re­lat­ing to the with­drawal of ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties by the teach­ers in the board as part of their on­go­ing job ac­tion against the province.

Par­ents ques­tioned if the OCDSB web­site would be up­dated to show which schools of­fered ac­tiv­i­ties and which didn’t.

The half-dozen par­ents also asked in­di­vid­u­ally if the board thought there was a link be­tween ex­tracur­ric­u­lars and stu­dent success and if the board would re­veal which teach­ers were union rep­re­sen­ta­tives at each school on its web­site.

Board di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Adams was sym­pa­thetic to the con­cerns of the par­ents, though she said she couldn’t re­veal per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on teach­ers.

“As di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion it is gut-wrench­ing to have to hear about th­ese kind of sto­ries hap­pen­ing in our schools,” Adams said.

“We ab­so­lutely know that the loss of ex­tracur­ric­u­lars are im­pact­ing our stu­dents and im­pact­ing our fam­i­lies.”

Adams said the board was do­ing its best to make it ob­vi­ous to teach­ers that it’s their right to be able to vol­un­teer their time if they choose to. The board is hop­ing to boost a re­spect­ful work­place pol­icy that would en­cour­age teach­ers to come for­ward if they felt threat­ened or bul­lied by their peers for their de­ci­sions to par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties out­side the cur­ricu­lum.


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