“One Angry Mother” took her JK child to school for the first time last week and was appalled by the unacceptably hot and overcrowded learning conditions provided. She was angry enough to start an online petition and pen a letter worth reading (see below). It is heartfelt, poignant and will resonate for many of you. Children are, indeed, our future and deserve safe, well-maintained, healthy, comfortable learning environments.
On Tuesday September eighth I, along with many other parents, brought children to school for the very first time.
It was supposed to be a time of exhilarating pride and joy, marking a new milestone in the development of the tiny little embryos that we’ve each nurtured and cared for, that we’ve doted over, and worried about, and cried over, and laughed with, and loved into beautiful little school-aged children and into the future of our city, our country, and our world.
Please understand this: These children ARE OUR FUTURE!
It is right now that we are deciding precisely what that future is going to be. By our actions towards them and by the value we place on them, we are making a choice, and every choice will have its consequences.
As I stood outside my son’s new classroom, I saw the care and attention the teachers had put into making his first day of school a wonderful experience. Each child’s name had been carefully written on little Nemo-themed placards and posted to the cork board outside of the class. I began to count those names.
I knew that teachers were unhappy and that the new school year may not start on time if there were to be a strike. It is only now that I am understanding, first-hand, why.
I am not sure how many politicians understand exactly what three and four year-old children are like and why it is absolutely not okay to stuff thirty of them into a small classroom with only two caregivers, but I am hoping that there are enough who will make an educated guess and do something to fix this.
Are we trying to drive these loving, caring professionals out of their careers and out of their minds? If there is a shortage of teachers, I can certainly see why. Regardless of how much these teachers love their children, there is only so much a person can take.
If I may go off on a tangent here: At the end of my son’s very first school day ever, I emptied his backpack. When I opened his sandwich container I observed the remnants of his cheese sandwich, which had not been grilled, and which had spent the previous evening, chilling in the fridge. My son’s cheese had literally melted into his bread. Lets put the teachers aside for a moment and ask ourselves how children are supposed to learn, while sweltering half to death in a school with no air conditioning, during an extreme heat alert? Oh, and lets not forget that they are packed in there like sweaty little sardines!
I went into the school year enthusiastically optimistic that he would be given the best education that our tax dollars could provide, and certain that I had done everything in my power to give my son the best chance at success in life. I moved into this neighbourhood during my pregnancy, all to get into this specific school, which is one of the best, in my opinion, in this city. It took the span of my entire pregnancy just to find a place we could afford in this particular school district.
If these are the conditions in some of our best schools, I shudder to think of what may be going on at some of the worst!
Right now you may be reading this, comfortable in your nice air-conditioned home or office, and thinking, ‘first-world problems’, but you know what, this is where we live! We live in what we like to call a ‘world-class city’, in a first-world country, and that makes them OUR problems! We certainly don’t have it as bad as some places, that is very fortunately true, but there is still lots of ‘room for improvement’. Are we content to say at least we aren’t as bad as the worst, or are we striving to be our very best? Our children are watching and I’m sure they’d like to know.
This country is amazing. Right now we have celebrities flying in from all over to take part in our film festival. We hosted the PanAm Games. We polish things up and put on a pretty show, while behind the scenes our children being treated as an afterthought. Do we care more about putting on appearances, or building a solid foundation of truly outstanding Canadians; great leaders, thinkers, and innovators, who will stand up and declare, in their words and deeds, that this country is nothing short of the best of the best, both on the world stage, and behind the scenes. Because if we don’t do our work before we get up on the stage, then we are certainly not about to just magically become the best show in town.
I would like to see class sizes no larger than 20 students for primary school, ESPECIALLY kindergarten. I would like each kindergarten class aided with their own dedicated full-time ECE or EA person. The ratio of children under age six to caregivers should never be over 10:1. This is for their academic success as well as their safety.
When I vote, I am voting for whoever has the future, our children, in mind, and that may or may not be the Liberals. While they are boasting their updated sexual education curriculum, I am deeply suspicious that all the controversy that has been stirred up around it was purposely orchestrated in order to distract from the academic concerns, namely over-stuffed classrooms, and overtaxed teachers. The sex concern has been resolved rather quickly. I’m eager to see how quickly we can now start to focus on the logistic and academic concerns.
One Angry Mother