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LETTER: Standing together in P.E.I. school closures fight

['Letter to the editor']
['Letter to the editor']

Island communities have shown that we will not be silent on an issue close to our hearts and a part of the culture that gives reality to the saying "it takes a village to raise a child," our schools.

We believe that schools, especially smaller schools in smaller communities, and in this we include urban ones, are at the core of what we are beyond our families.

We believe that schools, especially smaller schools in smaller communities, and in this we include urban ones, are at the core of what we are beyond our families.

Personally I attest to this when our young family moved to P.E.I. and didn't have extended family to lean on. No matter. Neighbours and other families whose children attended the same school soon embraced us. We were immersed in community groups that used the school for meetings and gatherings of all sorts for children and adults. The local school is indeed the hub of the community. We don't need a trendy model concept to know this.

So it is with gratitude we see the support given to each other by all school communities, not just those designated for closing. It is gratifying that people who have some public persona are also showing support. Yes, it is even pleasing to see politicians other then the government jumping on the bandwagon and of course they should. They are elected to speak about political decisions that impact on us as this controversial one surly does. This is what Opposition MLAs are supposed to do.

What the elected officials, had failed to do is recognize how necessary to communities schools are when legislation was introduced a few years ago that provided officials with the authority to close schools if they wish.

As one of the three-member appointed school board members who herself is seen as being in conflict of interest as the deputy minister of the department producing the controversial recommendations, said, legislation was approved giving appointed school boards the necessary authority.

On Dec. 2, 2015 all 27 MLAs voted yes to the Amended School Act approving appointed school boards. This essentially did away with elected school trustees as we used to call them and made P.E.I. the only province with appointed school boards. [Well, we do still have an elected French School Board. This in itself is curious.]

They at any point could have voted No, certainly after the third reading. This would have been recorded in Hansard. Abstentions are not recorded nor are those who choose to leave before a vote. But, all 27 MLAs voted. It is recorded in Hansard. They all understood what the legislation was about: getting rid of elected school boards and  

Giving a tool to officials now intent on closing schools. They all knew they could vote ‘No’. It is not enough now to say it was going to be passed by a majority government anyway. The opposition members, PCs and Green, apparently did not understand the importance of the having elected school boards. Either that or they chose to support government in exchange for other considerations.

So, what can we make of their new found support? Is it real solidarity based on principle or opportunism?

Edith Perry,

Millview

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