Monthly Archives: February 2012

EMSB steps in it – again.

Home-schoolers have rights. And they deserve respect.

CBC reports yesterday:

A Montreal mother said her son’s former school principal threatened to call youth protection services after she pulled her son out of his high school and began home-schooling him.

This student has Asperger syndrome, and clearly was not thriving in his school environment. The family chose to seek an alternative route, and THEY HAVE THAT RIGHT.

In our school board, we seem to be developing a more enlightened and inclusive approach to home schoolers. It started with people around our Educational Services committee table voicing their respect for the choices these families make. And instead of looking for ways of controlling them, we are looking for ways to support them.

But a spokesperson for the English Montreal School Board, Michael Cohen, said the Quebec Education Act is clear on that point.

“He is perfectly entitled to call youth protection services,” Cohen said. “You just can’t pull your child out of school and unilaterally decide to have our own home-schooling program.”

But actually, you CAN do just that.  And perhaps  that is why the case has already been dropped by youth protection.

The issue for school boards, for teachers, for principals to understand is that home schoolers don’t make these decisions lightly. They have a huge familial impact. A huge financial impact. And it’s not a choice they make that says they have no respect for schools, teachers etc. It’s a choice they make because they feel it is  the right choice for them.

I daresay that most home schoolers have *more* respect for teachers than many regular school parents do.

Home schoolers are not trying to recreate a classroom in their home. They are not trying to replace a teacher. They are choosing an alternative educational path. A rich path; a different path. But a path to develop an educated, very well socialized, highly contributing member of society.

I am glad our school board is open and respectful and trying.  We’re not all that I hope we can be just yet in our offerings for home schoolers, but we’re on the way there.

This action from the EMSB shows just how dysfunctional that board continues to be.

Truly,

Steve

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Filed under Blogging, Commentaries, Education

We don’t need more rules. We need action.

I am sorry, but reading yet another outrageous story about what is happening to our kids in our schools (this, in New Brunswick), well, it just makes me *too* mad – yet again.

In one incident, the girl called her mother in tears from the school. The mother left work and rushed to the school. She found her daughter huddled under a payphone. Students had ripped her shirt off and smashed her prized flute.

Honestly – this is what happens? This is ok? This is what we are prepared to accept in our schools?

There were broken shards of glass and razor blades. And it was her suicide box. It was a suicide box. It was a box that she was going to use when she couldn’t take it anymore. She wrote me an ‘I’m sorry letter,’ ‘I love you mommy you’ve been the best,’ and she said, ‘I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go to school; you’re making me go to school and I can’t be with these people anymore.’ And to know that the baby that you held in your arms was contemplating leaving the earth.

This is what it comes down to.

The Quebec government announced yesterday yet more measures to combat bullying. No monies, but at least more focus.

The issue for me though is that I don’t think we need any more “measures”. We don’t even need more money in the schools. We don’t need any more rules, policies or codes of conduct either.

What we DO need is to respect the rules that we already have!  Read the behavior code of your school.  Read your codes of conduct.  If we actually adhered to these rules that we already have, would we be addressing the issue?  Of course we would. It needs to be taken seriously.

It’s been over 4 years now that I have been a Commissioner in our school board.  The education act stipulates:

242. A school board may, at the request of the principal and for just and sufficient cause, and after giving the student and his parents an opportunity to be heard, enrol him in another school or expel him from its schools; in the latter case, it shall inform the director of youth protection.

I have seen no such case brought to council. None. Not one. Four years and 20,000 kids. Not a single case.

Why?

I have kids in our schools. I speak with kids in our schools. I speak to kids on our hockey teams. The things I hear about? There is cause, there has been cause and unfortunately, there will be cause again tomorrow.

Note that the education act directs the school board to inform youth protection. Because school boards are *designed* to only take it so far. At a certain point, the intent is to take the perpetrator OUT of the school board and put him into a system that may better serve the public good.

All too often I hear that we are “obliged to educate these children”. But we are also obliged to keep the rest of them safe. It’s their lives at stake here.

I am sick and tired of putting the priorities of “educating the bully” over the safety of the other children. It is simply wrong to prioritize the education of a serial bully over the actual LIVES of his victims. Sorry – pass the bully on to the next social service to fix. We can’t fix them all, and by trying, we are letting countless kids be victims, and as we have seen, leaving them feel so helpless that they are wanting to kill themselves, and actually following through with it too.

SCHOOLS – ENFORCE THE RULES.  We don’t need new rules and regulations. WE NEED ACTION.

Send a serial offender to council for expulsion, and given sufficient evidence, you will have my vote. And we can put an offender on a course that may actually help him, but one that will certainly help the victim(s).

Truly,

Steve

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Filed under Blogging, Commentaries, Education