Picking On The East Side’s Schools

In 2011, I published “The Drive: A Retail, Social, and Political History of Commercial Drive.” It covered the period of our history from 1935 to 1955, and the political story that it told was that Vancouver’s east side in general, and Grandview in particular, were treated by the Vancouver powers like unwanted step-kids; and that whatever advances we made here were entirely the result of our own efforts.

I was vividly reminded of this today as I read Aaron Leung’s excellent opinion piece in the Tyee entitled “A Rigged Game: School Closures in Vancouver.

Leung’s article discusses the Vancouver School Board’s long range facilities plan.

“[T]he report evaluates the feasibility of consolidating schools to remove “surplus capacity.” It identifies 16 elementary schools, three annexes and six secondary schools that could theoretically be closed, and their population moved to neighbouring facilities. All but two of them (Point Grey and Prince of Wales) are on the east side.”

In other words, virtually all the suggested closures are of east side schools.

We went through this same exercise in 2016 and the communities affected pulled together to complain and to stop — or, it seems, just delay — the unbalanced closures then proposed.  Clearly, the School Board has not learned anything of value from that previous attempt to damage the east side.

Not only does the VSB propose disrupting and damaging our communities in general (for these schools are important neighbourhood centres), more specifically they are aiming at special needs students who are clustered in large part on the east side of Vancouver.

 

Leung concludes his cri de coeur with the following:

“The Vancouver School Board needs to take an equity-based approach to its long-range facilities plan. Instead of a simplistic “surplus space” model, the board needs to look at many socioeconomic metrics, the needs of school populations and the role of communities — and its mission.  Consolidating — closing — schools where there is a higher population of students who need additional support does not uphold the board’s education goals. If the Vancouver School Board trustees are committed to reconciliation and social justice, they should go back to the drawing board.”

I would go much further and reverse Christy Clark’s decision when she was Education Minister to allow elitist parents to register their children in any school, regardless of where they live. That is one of the primary causes of the inequity we find in Vancouver schools today.  If you live in a neighbourhood, you should help support that neighbourhood by sending your kids to the neighbourhood schools.

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