Extracurricular cuts may kill dream: mother
Woman tells school board daughter’s goal to study music in jeopardy
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.