Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Beating a Dead Horse?

Relaxed on a trip to Prince Edward County
I do relax once in a while, but in the past three years there have been many issues that create tension and a sense of urgency. Some of this intensity has occurred in connection with our work on North Huron council, but the situations that have perplexed me the most are those associated with what is happening in our education system in Ontario and how these things have affected us here in Huron County, in North Huron, and in Blyth in particular.

Several people have told Greg Sarachman and me and others that we should have given up a long time ago on the "save our school" campaign. They said that there was no way that we could win. "It's a done deal. Forget it!" 

They were right; there was no way that we could win. But I wish I could get people to understand that that is exactly the problem. There should have been a way for the Blyth community to appeal the closure of their school, and to reverse that decision. So far, I have come to know of two Blyth people who seem to agree with the closure. There may be more, but we have 631 people signed their names on a petition to stop the closure. In a democratic society that should count for something. Not in this case, it seems.

What did we achieve? Greg and I agree on one thing: that we can look back on this time and say with pride that we did what we could and that it was, in our view, the right thing to do. We can also say that we have proved that the draconian system set up by the Ontario Ministry of Education and rogue school boards like AMDSB is not just a bad for places like Blyth. It's bad policy for rural Ontario, bad for education everywhere, and a disgrace in a society that considers itself to be a leading example of democracy.

Obviously some people are very happy with the result. They see many advantages in having the new school. They don't really care that it has no educational justification. It's good for the economy - of Wingham. They don't care about the cost to the communities that are bereft of their only schools. They don't care about the undemocratic practices of our school board and our Ontario government. They don't care about the lies many people have told trying to justify the decisions and actions of their board and their ministry.

I care about these things and will continue to work towards achieving a more fair and honest democratic society in this corner of Canada. 

Brock Vodden

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