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Opinion: Government sending disturbing messages on education

The most disturbing and critical of both these scenarios and issues are the people who are most affected and the need to stop fear-mongering and protectionism on both sides, sit down and have a civil conversation
college university education shutterstock_209187676 2016

By Frank O'Hagan, North Bay.

The silence and secrecy, as well as a number of ongoing unilateral decisions made by this government concerning education and health, are sending clear and unilateral disturbing messages.

The recent response, local headline and article surrounding teachers' unions ‘fear-mongering’, school closures and funding cuts from our local MPP and Minister of Finance appear to exclusively reinforce the party line agenda rather than his local constituents. The chaos that is ongoing in schools and school boards need answers, not more delays and rhetoric leaving us wondering about his comments and commitment to those who elected him locally and local priorities, both his and the community.

His trite and insensitive comments concerning the issues of duly elected representatives and their membership in education and health versus his party line allegiance, which to date is showing little compassion or empathy for those wanting to be heard, is disappointing, undeserving and non-productive.

The local rally which attacked the province for actions that participants fear will have detrimental effects on these two pressing local issues and throughout the province, are equally sending out clear and disturbing messages that the confrontational attitudes and relationships necessary to deal with these issues locally need to change.

The most disturbing and critical of both these scenarios and issues are the people who are most affected and the need to stop fear-mongering and protectionism on both sides, sit down and have a civil conversation.

With so many questions unanswered surrounding the present moratorium on school closures while the closure review process is being reformed and whether or not the moratorium implemented by the province in 2017 will continue, remains more of a problem than a solution. These need to be fast-tracked and inclusive for the benefits of our primary stakeholders-our students.

Our MPP’s comments appear arrogant and reactive when accusing those lobbying him of fear-mongering over school closures and cutbacks, where he alleges they are not being based on fact, are certainly not great first steps or helping to build the relationships that will be needed.

By him listening and showing some compassion to those who deal directly with exactly the chaos getting more serious each day, it appears there are facts and common knowledge as well throughout our community, that an MPP would know and be hearing reinforcing the need for action and change being brought forward.

Unfortunately, the party line exclusively is becoming more apparent in many of his decisions and responses. Does he know something about the school closures, the reform cutbacks and facts that he is not sharing that will continue to be made unilaterally or inclusive-like those lobbying for in the rally?

When our MPP says,’’ the province will not simply slash the budget to education, however changes need to be made about the way we spend money in the education system’’, that sounds promising.

 However of the 70,000 people-teachers, parents and students on online consultations on education, how many asked for one school board or variation of that, dropping the EQAO and re-directing its horrendous budget or other insights into better uses of funding?

How will we, those who pay the taxes, get to determine beforehand as our MPP puts it, ’’everything we do will be measured and responsible.’’ An excellent way to be fully transparent and accountable and show due diligence would be to release all of the information from the online consultations so that we all might be a part and aware of the process before any more unilateral decisions are made.

Given these decisions are truly being made in the best interests of ‘’Students First’’ we need to get this right at all levels. This is no longer just a school board, education, and health issue but a community issue as well requiring the resources and expertise of those in mental health, social services, the Dare programs and police, drugs, alcohol and now- pot.

Given the recent article and standoff, it may well be time for our MPP to start visiting local schools or at least seek input locally from those closest to our students –parents,teachers,  ea’s, supply teachers to get the information he appears to be questioning and insensitive too.

Elections come and go as do those who do the right things for the right reasons or those who don’t! As parents and grandparents, we have a vested interest in changes that will affect our children and grandchildren their education and health. We remember those who aspire to those values and don’t ever forget those who don’t.

Frank O'Hagan,