Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sask: Is closing rural schools the only option?

As farms get larger and farmers become fewer, it’s no surprise rural communities are struggling to deal with the realities of dwindling populations. To compound the problem, newly amalgamated school boards see closing rural schools as their only realistic way to deal with declining enrolments.

But is closing a bunch of schools really the only option?



Chad Moats said...

How is that you think city schools should be closed but rural schools, with less students should not ?

Chris said...

How will these private schools operate in a financially viable manner when school boards with money for capital expenditures and existing infrastructure can't make a go? If rural residents are already fed up with the high taxes they are paying (a point you frequently make), what makes you think they would be willing to pay more? Have you done any investigation into the quality of education in private schools as compared to public schools? As someone who has taught for six years in both public and private schools, I can tell you that private schools lack accountability, and usually have to pay teachers less because of budget restraints, thus resulting in trouble recruiting top candidates for positions. Teachers at one popular private (charter) school in Regina get paid 10% less than their counterparts in the public or catholic systems. The only way to make these schools work will be for charter schools to cut corners -- drop programming they deem superfluous, let infrastructure decay, and pay their teachers less. Education is a right, not a privilege - it is not something that businesses should be able to make a profit off. Essential services should not be privatized, because where is the accountability when they do not do as expected?

David MacLean said...

Chris, I appreciate what you are saying here. I think you make some good points.

Someone once told me it's easy to find experts to tell you why something can't be done.

"Well, they'll never make it work."

"Who will be willing to pay out of pocket?"

The point of the piece is to say, let them try. If they can make it work, then by all means we should let them go for it.

Google the Warner Women's Hockey Academy and you'll see an example where innovation can make a school vibrant and sustainable.

David MacLean said...

And Chad, the same thing applies to urban schools. If local communities want to operate a private school in their neighbourhood, by all means they should do that.

Chad Moats said...

Private schools I don't agree with but here in Kamloops, they have gone to competing public schools, at this point only 2 schools have switch but they offer speciality education, there is a science school and a fine arts school. It might be good for urban schools, in Saskatchewan, to go to a format of specialties. This would allow each school to compete against each other for students citywide. While being inclusive and not costing parents extra dollars above their education taxes.

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