How much effort into making schools safe?
By M. Gause
June 6, 2012
There's a rumour that I am currently enemy number one at Parry Sound High School with reassurances being circulated to teaching staff that teachers are indeed loved and supported by the people who count, namely senior management and administration.
To further underline my disregard for the high level of care, support and diligence being exercised by the same super caring school management I have been fed the usual public relations baloney about caring schools with an open invitation to attend one of the many wonderful school functions.
To be clear, nowhere in my last column did I in any way suggest teachers were responsible for the oppressive environment at the school, nor did I suggest in any way that teachers were somehow falling down on the job.
As a strong supporter of both teachers and students the suggestion that I need to attend school events to fully appreciate the wealth of good work being achieved would be funny if it were not so pathetic.
I have attended many events and have worked with teaching staff and students on a variety of projects.
I am well aware of the talent and dedication of both students and teaching staff.
There is no inherent contradiction in wanting a school environment that is both nurturing and safe. The question I raised was just how much effort was being spent on the "safe" part of the equation. Do we really need surveillance that extends beyond school property? If drug trafficking on town property is a problem, why are police not routinely patrolling the area?
I understand that it would be better for senior management if parents were to just meekly accept that "administration knows best" and never ever makes mistakes, but the fact of the matter is that while parents and students are not perfect, neither is administration.
Perhaps a more collaborative approach on the part of management might be more effective?
Parents, after all, also want what is best for their children and are generally willing to work with the school to ensure compliance with school policies and protocol.
There is sound research that the "zero tolerance" approach criminalizes youth, bleeds educational resources in favour of enforcement and creates an adversarial atmosphere not conducive to learning.
Perhaps its time the Near North Board refocuses its priorities and puts education back into the centre of the equation.
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