Education : the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.
Key words? “Preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life “
I am a firm believer that educating children properly in schools AND at home, is one of the keys to a successful and functioning society. In some countries around the world, education is so important that even post-secondary schooling is free to those who wish to access it.
And here in Surrey, a city with some of the poorest neighbourhoods in all of BC ( Whalley, Newton) and thousands of at-risk kids, a proper education is crucial to thousands of kids of falling through the cracks and becoming lost to society- perhaps forever. School is often the only place where many of these kids are exposed to positive role models for a life free of drugs, crime or poverty.
The Surrey school district is facing a massive budget shortfall: $9.53 million dollars. According to the district website, this is attributed to a combination of factors including the recession as well as a corresponding drop in international student enrollment . Apparently those foreign students are quite the money maker for Surreys school system.
Now, in an effort to handle that budget shortfall, the district has decided to cut 6 full days from the school calender, in addition to the 6 days already dedicated to the rather dubious Pro-D days. While they say that no actual instruction time will be lost because they are adding 11 minutes to each school day, I call FOUL!
In an excerpt from the letter sent home to parents, (*http://www.sd36.bc.ca/general/news/2009/budget/ParentLetter-seco.pdf), it states :
”The board anticipates significant cost savings from these proposed calendar changes, as the school district currently spends more than $100,000 each day to replace absent teaching and non-teaching staff. There will be further savings resulting from decreased energy costs (transportation, heat, light) during the six days when schools are not providing regular service.”
Personally, I think there is something wrong with the rationale that says adding 11 minutes to each day somehow makes up for the loss of 6 full days. Please explain to me what a teacher can realistically expect to accomplish in those 11 minutes( which works out to about an extra 3 minutes per block in highschool), versus one entire day of class rotation where 3 or 4 different subjects receive a full block of time ? Do they really expect us to swallow this nonsense?
And I’m so glad that they are pointing out how much these 6 lost days are going to save us on transportation, heat and lights! AS if.
The worst part is that I fear many parents in Surrey are not aware this is even happening, because letters were sent home with children in most schools, and as any parents know, notices sent home with kids,often get “lost”. If you are a Surrey resident with children in school, I urge you to read the notices and budget brief on the district website,
http://www.sd36.bc.ca/general/news/2009/budget-feedback.html , and send your feedback in before the budget approval meeting on May 28th- next Thursday. Education is an essential building block to opening a child’s world to endless opportunities.
Thinking back to when I was growing up in northern BC,( where getting on at a local mill, or getting married and being a wife was what most kids did after highschool) I can clearly point to several teachers who saw in me a depth of passionate,insatiable curiosity, and encouraged the development of my education and interests. These teachers were not only my educators,but also mentors, counsellors, and occasionally – my friends. There were a few teachers that really stand out for me, even now. Mr.Baker, Mr. Stinson, Ms. Meiklem. These were teachers that went beyond merely spoon-feeding students the curriculum, they encouraged us to debate and question what was being taught. They welcomed debate, pushed for visionary, creative thinking, and saw in myself the talents that were nurtured and guided in much the way I wish my parents had. I credit these teachers with instilling in me the belief that I could do something with my life, that I did matter, and that everyone is capable of changing the world.
That is what a good teacher, a good education can do. Schools are far more than learning centres for many kids with dysfunctional homes. They are a refuge where for a few hours, teachers can, and often do, make the difference that changes the course of a child’s life forever, and we must not take one day of that opportunity for any child,or any teenager.
This is the importance of an education. It becomes an actual part of the person doing the learning, and beings to transform that child as it continues. Who has not seen that spark of recognition in a child’s eyes? That magical “Ah ha !” moment treasured by both the student and the teacher. It brings with it not only joy, curiosity and confidence, but also the acceptance of a new responsibility that comes with it. And this, my friends, is priceless.