EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

Sands: Edmonton students crowd into suburban schools; portable classrooms not ready

In Commentary on September 4, 2013 at 5:07 am

Edmonton students crowd into suburban schools; portable classrooms not ready.

Should parents have the right to choose their children’s school? Should children have a right to attend a school in their own neighborhood?

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  1. If every student went to school A because they heard it was the best school, then it would go from being possibly the best school to the most over-crowded school.

    If a school has a specialized program that the child wants, then they should be allowed to transfer. Parents deserve some choice in their child’s school, but not exclusive of the child’s opinion. By not allowing parents an opinion, we are assuming all parents don’t know what is best for their kids, when we know some do know what is best. The question also suggests that parents are only interested the social advance of their family. That a better school means a better education and better future for their family. That is only truth for some families.

    I think allowing parents and kids together to choose what school they attend will naturally align itself. A portion of kids and parents won’t want to commute 2-3 hours each day because of safety or other reasons and another portion will be willing to take that extra strive if they have the means. Another portion of students will go to specialized schools because they really want their kid to be in a bilingual program or to be with peers who learn in a similar style.

    Schools need to intervene if the school choice of the kids and parents does not seem to be working for the student. Otherwise, I don’t think this should be a debate.

    Schools that are overcrowded such as Blair McPherson are because of poor suburban planning. They are building houses for new families with thinking about where new schools will go. These families are then subject to deal with the overcrowded nature of the school or to transfer their kid another school that may take an hour each way to get to. This is the type of choice that parents and kids have to make, but shouldn’t have to because it isn’t their fault.

  2. I think that the concept of parents being able to choose the ‘right’ school for their student is a great idea, but as we have seen in Edmonton (and many other cities), it just isn’t working. There are so many students who are unable to attend their neighbourhood school because it is full of students from other communities who are attending that school based on parental preference. For junior high and high schools, some schools offer specialized programming or courses that are not offered at all schools (for example, certain language classes or trade-oriented classes). Students and their parents should definitely be allowed to make the choice to send their children to a school that has the programs that they are interested in pursuing. However, the majority of elementary schools offer the same programming, but parents are placing their children in schools based on proximity to their after-school care provider or their place of employment. This means that many children have to pass by their neighbourhood school on the school bus as they are bussed to another location that is much further away. I think the idea of parents being able to choose where their child attends classes is a great concept, but in a city that is so spread out and full of many young, growing families, it is just not reasonable. Our schools are filling up before they are even built, while some older buildings are nearly empty because parents don’t want to send their children to the ‘older’ school for whatever reason. As well, I think in a lot of cases, parents are choosing a certain school not based on the programming offered or the reputation of the school, but based on transportation convenience. I think it’s more important to limit a child’s time on the school bus (especially for younger students) and keep them in their community school, where they can make friends who also live in the community instead of sending them all over the city because their neighbourhood school is full of children who live elsewhere.

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