Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Board outcomes- McCauley

McCauley


Current enrolment 200. (A number many private schools would promote as a selling feature.)

From the City Impact Statement:

Social Vulnerability of McCauley: lone parent 35% (19% city av),

$22,109 income ($57, 085 average).

¾ of community considered socially vulnerable.

Dollars and Sense: report that examines cost benefits of small schools  states on p. 7 “smallest schools should exist in poorest neighbourhoods.”

Immigrant and Refugee population increasing in CCEP area

Overall forecast for CCEP children to increase significantly in next 15 years.

yrs         2009    2014    2019

0-4        2277    3497    4250

5-9        1907    2815    3798

10-14     1914    2317   3157


Downtown population set to double in next 20 years, commitment to family oriented dwellings. YMCA Welcome Village – 60-70 units for families, 2.3 av per family, 3.5 for Aboriginal and newcomer families= 180-210 children coming into McCauley.

Transit build surrounding LRT (McCauley)

School is only meeting place for the community.

“Another kick in the teeth” Councillor Ben Henderson. Really set the community back and destroy the efforts of the city.

WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT MCCAULEY:
Unique, not transferrable, cultural context. The idea that all CCEP schools are the same and that there are “commonalities between the sites” significantly undervalues the unique nature of McCauley. It is, I would suggest, a bit classist- to assume that all those inner city schools are the same.

People all over the city, over the past month, have talked to me about McCauley. People who don’t have children in the system. People who have never talked to me about educational issues before. They all say: "You have to keep McCauley open". Even a parent at the Spruce Avenue public consultation, who was arguing to keep the elementary program alive at Spruce Avenue, stopped and said to me: but if you close McCauley, oh that will just break my heart. Why are people so passionate about McCauley? Why does it resonate? I think the immigrant and refugee population stirs something in people. As Canadians, if we aren’t Aboriginal, all of us come from somewhere else. Most of us have stories within the last generation or two of someone who fled their country, under circumstances of war or famine or desperation, to arrive here in Canada with the hope of building a new life. These families have found a haven, a safe place at McCauley and to remove it now feels most unkind.

I have a deep concern that the McCauley parents did not understand the consultation process. No translation was provided and they were very disadvantaged in this critical point.

Concern that we are applying our values to others and disregarding their needs, values and hopes. We have built this recommendation on the idea that kids will be better served through consolidation and that we will be able to offer increased programming. But I heard over and over again that programming was not as important as the sense of belonging, care, wraparound support and cultural sensitivity found at McCauley. The presentation from The Muttart Foundation and the Multicultural Health Brokers articulated the values of the McCauley community well. Emphasis on the extended family, the ownership felt by the parents who created the Multicultural daycare, parental support maximized when parents are within walking distance, well being based on acceptance. Chris Smith (Muttart):  He is “Not confident cost of closure will be outweighed by academic benefit of increased programming.”

I just spent 3 days at a national youth conference for at-risk, underserved youth. I was in a room with kids who were out of school and out of work, most had never completed high school. I asked what would need to change for them to stay in school or return to school. There were a lot of ideas and suggestions, which I will share with my colleagues and our administration…but not one kid, not one said: “a shop class or a home ec class”. Not one. What they said was: small class sizes so I can be helped, teachers who care about me and are interested to know about the rest of my life and what’s going on, a place where I can be myself, where I am safe from racism and bullying, homework help after school because my parents don’t speak English and they can’t help me, a school that’s like a home, because my home isn’t so good or I live on the street.

When I heard these things- these wishes from kids who have fallen through the cracks- I thought of McCauley. McCauley is doing this.

BRIGHT FUTURE FOR McCAULEY:

I believe the educational needs and emotional needs can be met at McCauley. Excess space in the building should be examined and some of the 27 organizations looking for leases should be placed in there to offset the costs. We should actively seek provinvial and municipal support for wrap around services. The City has applied for a Community Hub pilot and it seems that McCauley would be the logical location. Application states repeatedly: “Geography matters”. “Bring services to where people live”. (quote document)

ESL Classes can be offered through Metro. We can develop the ideas presented by the Multicultural Health brokers for a Centre of Intercultural Excellence.

ALTERNATIVES:

Junior High programming: I recognize that bussing to Spruce Avenue is a problem. I suggest we work with local businesses and agencies to explore alternate ways to deliver option programming. Intercultural cooking classes or other work experience opportunities in the community could be delivered through innovative partnerships like YAP- youth apprenticeship program. Intercultural music, dance, art could be delivered through the AFA artist in residency program or some other partnership. In short, build upon what is there and celebrate and honour the unique offerings of the community, rather than bussing to learn how to build a birdhouse or cook an omelette on toast.

McCauley is renovated and Spruce Avenue is not. Many have expressed that they feel going to Spruce Ave would feel like a step backward, not forward.


BUSSING:

Many families have expressed concerns about bussing. With the recommendation to provide free bussing, we have addressed the financial concerns. However, the safety issue continues. - answer to question 37- what happens if the kids miss the bus? Has many middle class assumptions; Wait for the bus with your child (assumes you don’t start work at 7 AM), Call the carrier (assumes you have a cellphone), check the Late Bus website (assumes they have a computer), Make alternate arrangements (assumes they have a car).

People will have to move if McCauley closes, impacts are severe.  Urge my colleagues not to support this recommendation.

VOTE: 6-3, with Huff, Colburn and Gibeault opposing

*At this point, I put my head in my hands and cried. It was around 12 midnight and I was completey and utterly drained. But there was more to do...so I pulled it together for the next debate: Parkdale.

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