Tuesday, March 9, 2010

McCauley meeting re: school closure

Last night was a very well-attended meeting. It was an amazing array of families from all around the globe and I'm glad that translation was provided in so many languages. Also in attendance were: Councillor Tony Caterina and MLA Hugh MacDonald, representatives from the Multicultural Health Brokers, Success by Six and Public Interest Alberta.  (I'm sure there were other reps in the audience that I've missed- my apologies).

Today, we received a proposal via email regarding turning McCauley into a community school, similar to a school in Calgary that has been very successful. Under this model, the school is truly a hub for the community- providing support to families as well as children. I fully support this idea. It is my belief that we need to think differently about McCauley and explore innovative ideas like this one. Another idea suggested last night at one table was locating the new ELL Transition School at McCauley, since the immigrant/refugee population is so high. There are options other than closure to reduce the excess space in the school and we should be open to those ideas.

Hearing the struggles of the parents last night, I was so very aware of my "middle class bias" that sees things through my lived experience... this bias is based on having a car and having enough money to buy a bus pass, having a stable income, having adequate supports in place to help with childcare, having an education, having never experienced trauma/war/oppression/displacement, being fluent in English, having everything available to me and knowing how to access services if I need them. Through this lens, I might regard high quality programming as the optimal educational experience, the absolute preferred option for all children. What I heard last night loud and clear is programming is not as important as safety and a sense of belonging. Staying connected with family is more important than a shop class. It reminded me of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: until safety and other basic needs are covered, other needs are just not as important. I hope we can be respectful of the values and needs of the McCauley community in our decision-making. These families want us to make a decision that preserves social cohesion, safety and family ties. There are unique features at McCauley (like the 6 AM-6 PM daycare) that cannot be found at John A. McDougall or anywhere else.
I'm sorry this is such a short post- I have a board meeting tonight and I've been behind all day. Suffice to say, I heard the voice of McCauley loud and clear last night. I have a deeper understanding of their particular challenges and a deeper respect for their tenacity and courage in the face of challenges. I came away humbled.  Thank you to all that attended last night.

1 comment:

why_knot said...

Great post! It is good to hear that you recognized the limitations that our own world view place on our thinking and perceptions, if we allow them to.

It would be great if school boards, province-wide took a more proactive stance on future school underutilization and had worked on plans in advance instead of "under the gun." The demographics are available to do this.