Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hard Times for Schools

A little over two weeks ago I attended the 30th anniversary reunion for my high school graduating class.  It was amazing, emotional, and enlightening.  I thoroughly enjoyed touring the old school, seeing the stained-glass windows over the main entrance that I had helped to put together, and speaking to many people that I hadn't seen since graduation.

One of the servers that night at the pub where the main party was held turned out to also be a graduate of the same high school from four years ago.  I was told that he said, "I was looking through your Grad Yearbook, and I can't believe how many clubs and teams you guys had. The school didn't have any of that when I was there.  We got the football team back but that was it.  You guys were pretty lucky."

We certainly were lucky.  I remember so many activities and teams from my time there.  There was intramural football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, and track.  Student clubs included board games, chess, computers, cooking, debating, Tae Kwon Do, and theatre.

Unfortunately, a succession of cutbacks at all levels of government have forced many schools to stop holding clubs and raising sports teams.  Even the better-funded schools are struggling.  Last year, one of the city's most prestigious private girls' schools closed due to declining enrollment and lack of financial support.  Another is going co-ed next year in order to prevent the same.

Our daughter's grade school depends on parents and volunteers for almost everything.  There's no full-time librarian or school nurse.  The classes hold regular bake and craft sales to finance their activities, and twice a year there are big fundraisers where the kids have to sell boxes of chocolate or coffee around the neighbourhood.  The school can't even seem to afford to repair its flagstaff and fly the flags that it ought to.  Every single school I ever attended proudly flew the Canadian and provincial flags out front... but our daughter's school can't.

How sad that education has been relegated to the bottom of the well.


  1. In the US as a whole the schools are getting way more money than that and have designated librarians, nurses etc. But we have declining numbers of clubs and organizations as students increasingly focus on wild, troublesome activities outside of school. It isn't "cool" to be into school. We've got a generation with an awful lot of underachievers coming up.

  2. Exactly!!! I was talking about this toward the end of school. They no longer are able to teach great books, or thesture, or music, or art in most schools. They don't have time or resources because of preparing for state testing. I sub and most of the kids I have seen read and write at an Elementry grade level because they have to be pushed to pass at test instead of nurtured to become great thinkers.

    1. One of my former English teachers in high school was once fairly strict about his curriculum. Students were regularly quizzed on vocabulary and literature, and he taught how to write proper reports and essays. Then things changed. Not long before he retired I heard that he was assigning students things like "draw a picture to illustrate what you believe happened in the book". I was floored when I heard that - any elementary school kid could do that and here he was doing this at the high school level because the newer generation of students couldn't or wouldn't process it any other way. I've seen kids coming out of high school now who can't spell. It's totally wrong.