25 January 2011

The Basenjis of St. John’s

If there are dogs that won’t hunt, the Conservatives members of the House of Assembly representing seats in the metro St. John’s are the kind that won’t bark.

Back-bencher, cabinet minister or parliamentary secretary, they are all sitting idly by as the current administration demolishes the school system in the metropolitan area. 

Thousands of students will suffer as a result of a poorly conceived and clumsily executed backroom deal between Eastern School District and the province’s education department to close schools and move students into lashed up space.

The school district will unveil a bunch of resolutions to implement the department’s plan tomorrow night.  If you go by the versions that have already circulated to test what will get a majority, the school board trustees plan to ignore the thoughtful comments made by parents across St. John’s that oppose the back-room scheme and propose instead the plan already agreed upon by parents themselves in 2008. 

There are huge problems in the scheme.  For example, under the deal, the city core and downtown area will be left without a school of any kind.  Students will have to be bussed across town.  In another area, hundreds of students will be forced to change schools four times in five years until the provincial government finishes a new high school in the west end.

If they finish it.

If the school doesn’t get finished, the students will languish as refugees in sub-standard facilities.

The very idea of those things would be ludicrous even as a response to a disaster.  Parents across St. John’s are gob-smacked that bureaucrats and politicians would deliberately plan to implement such a hare-brained scheme and dare to defend it.

But the fix has been in since well before Christmas. Trustees, the majority of whom are from outside St. John’s, are already in favour of the scheme.

Portable classrooms are reportedly on the way to house students from one junior high school who will be forced into grossly inadequate facilities for an unknown period of time.

Not a single member of the province’s legislature from the metro area will speak out to support their constituents.

That’s not a prediction.

That’s a guarantee.

Just watch.

- srbp -