Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Let's Keep Our Community Schools

Dozens of community schools across Alberta are scheduled to close this year. And their communities will wither even more when they do. While budgets might suggest closing a school will help with spending and taxes, the reality is quite often the opposite.

A school is often the centrepiece of a neighborhood. A school brings fond memories and the people in a community together for concerts, sporting events, music, fundraising and community meetings involving children and adults. Schools and real neighborhoods make our cities more livable and friendly.

The limited and simple "numbers crunching" practice of removing the heart out of our communities and thinking that they will somehow magically continue to thrive and prosper is ludicrous. They will not. Such simple solutions only encourage migration to the outer reaches of a City that has already sprawled out of control. It creates "bedroom communities" without neighborhoods or real community.

It is time to revitalize our inner city communities. Closing down our community schools goes to the very heart and lifeblood of neighborhoods. It does not require courage or leadership to take the "simple" road of closing down these community schools. That is an abdication of our responsibilities to our families and neighbours. 

How do we put a value - dollars and cents - on the loss of community? Some suggest the "simple" solution of just looking at the amount spent, and deciding that it costs less to close a school when a community is in transition. Simple. And a truly false economic. It assumes a community is static and will never again thrive. Most school board members and teachers know that it just doesn't work well for the children, and not for the parents nor the community. But, funding is political and doesn't address the bigger question of "what makes a community?" That's too complicated for some politicians.

We talk about bullying in schools, yet faceless bureaucracy often comes wagging its financial finger and bullies public school boards into closing community schools, leaving no reasonable alternative.

I truly believe we can and should invest in our communities and neighborhoods, starting with properly sustainable funding of public schools, investing in the students, parents, teachers and neighborhoods. This is a complex issue, but it requires a Partnership to build the communities we want. Please join me in this partnership.

1 comment:

Carlos Beca said...

Great to see some human thinking for a change. We now do not make any more decisions in this province. If the market does not have a value for it eliminate it. This is slowly but steadily destroying our great province. Happy to see the Alberta Party is attracting some people rather than political robots.