Monday, July 20, 2009

NDSS update

The St. Catharines Standard posted this Monday indicating that supporters of Niagara District Secondary School continue to push back on Niagara-on-the-Lake's Eden High School, a former private Mennonite school brought into the former public board pre-amalgamation as an alternate school.
Sandy over at Crux of the Matter blogged about Eden on July 5 and can speak to its history far more authoritatively than I can. Head over there to learn more about how this school became part of the publicly funded system.
From the article by Tiffany Mayer:
Paolo Miele said the Christian faith-based programs at Eden High School infringe on policies in the Education Act that prohibit indoctrinational religious education or focusing teachings on a particular faith.
Miele also claims the alternative high school's admission requirements, giving preference to siblings of students or those with a historical connection to Eden, are discriminatory.
"This is about fairness," Miele said. "I'd like to see permanent policy looked at and followed."
Kim Yielding, the board's communications manager, said in the 20 years since Eden became part of the board, the historical connection to Eden has become less of a factor in granting admission than whether a prospective student has a sibling at the school.
"That's also the case with other alternate programs," Yielding said. "If you had a sibling enrolled in extended French and you wanted to apply to that school, you could because your sibling is currently enrolled there."
Eden isn't doing anything wrong, Ministry of Education spokeswoman Patricia MacNeil said.
"Certainly its existence does not contravene the Education Act," because religious programming is happening outside regular class time, she said.
Annie Kidder, executive director for the advocacy group People for Education, also has her doubts that Eden's admission requirements, which also include a letter explaining why students want to attend, are discriminatory.
Eden's entrance requirements differ little from those at other publicly-funded alternative schools, which by nature are exclusive, she said.
"There are many alternative schools that say you have to audition or write an essay or you have to have certain marks, or even you can't have special education needs to get into the school. Have we decided that's OK in our public education system?" Kidder said.
This is the latest step for NDSS supporters to try and do what they can to avoid closure of the school at the end of this school year, given the student population is about 100 short of a 350 target set by trustees last year.


Anonymous said...

Well, Ms. Kidder I guess it is OK.
Oh please spare us the angst, is this the same Kidder talking about restrictive entrance requirements??
This coming from a person who, as I understand it had her kids at Ursula Franklin Academy (when it had interviews) and arts schools that require auditions???

Anonymous said...

Ursula Franklin was described to me by a parent there as the closest one could get to a private school within a public system.

Guess Ms. Kidder is a parent who can make choices for her own children but not allow other parents to do the same.

The TDSB has a link on its website to their list of the alternative schools that board offers parents.

Some which are not available to all children.

Education Reporter said...

Re-read what Kidder had to say in the original article. I don't think she's against alternate schools. She does ask whether 'we' think it's OK, but I don't get the vibe from the comments quoted in the article that she's against alternate schools' existence.

Anonymous said...

I DID read it, and taking that into account with other statements about "school shopping" that her organization has made, her comments makes no sense.
What is it to be? Are they against alternatives or are they OK for some people?

Of course WE (people in general) think it's OK. If WE didn't they wouldn't be asked for by parents and/or offered by school boards.

Anonymous said...

it proves to me that even within the public system's many tiers there are those who can choose and those who can't, or will not, or don't know that they have that right.

It puts a lie to the myth that public schools are open to all. They're not..and Kidder acknowledges that fact in her quotes.

If the public system suggests that it gives all children the same opportunities, Kidder's comments make that an untruth about the system that few want to talk about.

There are also implications to offering parents choice within the system in urban boards while not being able to do so in small rural boards..unless some of those schools up for closure were to become schools of choice in the same way that they exist in the larger boards.

It also raises many questions about how badly choice has been handled by politicians and their pet parent organizations. Every party has them, the public know it, but what the public doesn't have and what the Minister tried to give via the new "School Finder" tool is educate the public about the choices they should have.

But Ms. Kidder was one of the first out of the gate wanting to nix more information for parents?
Why? Wynne bent for Kidder to a point but again why? If it's all about parent advocacy for Kidder's group?

Anonymous said...

Anon. 10:25 - is it true that People for Education is driving the new Community Schools Alliance out of Chatham? Seems to me that that group is everywhere and has quite the media profile. The north hasn't ever heard of another organization but that one that advocates for parents.