This edition of the Observer came, without intention, to have a focus on school.
We have our piece on school violence – timely, after yet another school shooting in Maryland yesterday. The piece delves into the tragic but necessary developments of lock-down procedures and intruder protocols at even Quesnel’s schools, a trickle down effect after two more shootings in the US so far this year. We might want to believe it’s an American problem, but it would be foolish to do so.
Accompanying that is out student writer’s column on the youth response to the Florida school shooting, in a moving piece featuring the letters sent by Quesnel students to students of Stoneman High.
On a lighter note is the issue of a two-week Spring Break that was just approved by Quesnel Board of Education trustees.
The trustees have long resisted the change, holding out as, one by one, districts across the province moved to the model as a cost-saving measure.
Even during the board meeting on Mar. 14, the trustees’ hesitance to make the change was evident. But the majority has spoken.
Of note is that 75 per cent parents who responded to the survey said “yes” to an additional week. It seems more vacation time is favourable to more time for the curriculum.
For although the number of hours the children are in school won’t change – that amount is mandated by the provincial government – the extra week off will be divided in some way over the remainder of the year.
As you can imagine, a few minutes added to the end of each day won’t equate to the same teachable time as a full week; it’s like breaking a $20 that’s been sitting on you wallet: as soon as you do it, the change seems to fly out of your pocket on inconsequential items, a loonie here and a loonie there, until it’s all gone.
And parents who themselves can’t afford a second week of vacation from their jobs are left to figure out what to do with the kids: one parent commented on social media that the extra week would simply be more time spent on the couch with the iPad while mom and dad work.
Still, the majority rules, and those who didn’t fill out the survey don’t get a say after the fact – and with just 726 responses from across all schools in the district (where there are almost 3,000 students enrolled), we have to wonder why more parents didn’t reply in the first place.
The Board of Education’s Spring Break Committee publicized the survey through Facebook, with report cards and through school newsletters. Was this not enough? Or do parents no longer have time to check in with their children’s education?
There’s nothing anyone can do for next year. But those parents opposed to the extended break need to use their voices next spring when the school board seeks feedback after the first trial year.
Let’s get at least half of Quesnel’s parents invested this time.
Quesnel Cariboo Observer