Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ottawa DSB reviews addendum

As promised, a few links showing what the reaction / action was Thursday evening at the Ottawa-Carleton DSB meeting when two reviews -- one elementary, one secondary -- were presented to trustees.
So, CTV Ottawa, two from the Ottawa Citizen (here and here), and the Ottawa Sun.
My favourite was the Citizen's stuff on the reaction from Lisgar Collegiate parents to the high school review. It appears they're concerned the few Rideau High School students who might go their way if the "lower-class" school closes would threaten their darlings' ability to transfer into Lisgar to attend gifted and music programs.
“We are not in a position to take a position. We don’t have the information we need to do that,” said Rachel Eugster, co-chairwoman of the school council at Lisgar.
“You can’t say, ‘Let’s close X and Y schools’ without taking into account that a strong program at school Z will be affected,” Eugster said. “It could have major effects in far-flung places.”
Far-flung indeed. Although separated by only about three kilometres as the crow flies, the schools are vastly different.
Lisgar ranked fourth in Eastern Ontario and 21st in Ontario in the annual Fraser Institute high school rankings last spring, based on results in standardized tests. (St. Michael’s, a high school in Kemptville, placed first, followed by Colonel By and Garneau, both in Gloucester.)
Rideau was third from the bottom in Eastern Ontario and 626th in the province.
Meanwhile, 96 per cent of Lisgar students passed provincial literacy tests on the first attempt last April, compared to 61 per cent of participating students at Rideau, where only 69 per cent of those in Grade 10 took the test.
School board staff have calculated that, if Rideau High School is closed, 19 Grade 9 Rideau students and as many as 38 older students might transfer to Lisgar. However, Lisgar is already at capacity with about 1,070 students. About 100 of those are “cross boundary transfer” students from other parts of the city, many attracted by the school’s reputation
It's not that ripple-effects shouldn't be part of trustee consideration, but if the sole interest here is to preserve the gentrification of Rockliffe-Ottawa-Beacon Hill-North Gloucester's high schools, then why bother having a review at all? I also note that there are enough inferences here to suggest Rideau is getting the shaft in the recommendations because of its reputation. Colonel By, which has been under capacity for decades (since I was a high school student in the area), has always managed to remain open due to its specialty programs, for example the International Baccalaureate high school program.
If the impact on Lisgar was really going to be that great, it should have been included in the review when it began. To come at the 11th hour and want to be part of the process suggests self-interest more than any motivation to seek the best learning conditions for all students.