Thursday, June 21, 2007

And this is the other stuff

As in the name of this blog, I reserve the right to write occasionally about topics other than bikes. I generally don’t go all political, but right now I will. Not war, environmental political stuff, it’s a different level than that.

Right now the Wheatland County School Board (I live in Wheatland County) is voting today to approve the action of closing down the schools in Rockyford, Standard, Hussar, Gleichen and make a centralized school for all of the towns, instead of having a school in each town. What’s more is that the school board has stated that they do not want the school to be located in any one particular town, and are literally proposing to build it in the middle of nowhere! The location has not be confirmed, but it would be built in any one of three locations that they have proposed. The Wheatland School Board (WSB from now on) states that the schools do not benefit towns and it wouldn’t make sense to build it in a town. What a load of crap! They want to take 1400 square miles, and include every child in that area in this one school! That’s 4 times the size of Calgary, all being shipped to one central location every morning and every evening. There are children who would be looking at a 2hr + bus ride each way. Boy, how does that show the future generation that they are important and that we value spending time with them?

On the day to day side of things; you have a school that is K-12, and it’s minus 30 outside. Very real and temps like that happen several times every single winter. We can have 2 weeks stretches that hover at the equilibrium of Celsius and Fahrenheit (-32 degrees). Someone pulls a fire alarm, or heaven forbid, they actually have a fire. Where do the children in grade 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 go? Sure older kids should be able to fend for themselves as well as anyone can when it’s -30 outside, but what about the little ones? Where do they go? How long will they last? Even with emergency vehicles coming, how many vehicles does it take to hold and transport 500 students?

The grade 9 class in Rockyford has 13 students in it this year. That size of class size was a huge draw for me moving to Rockyford in the first place. I had wondered how I missed the fact that this was being proposed while I was looking in Rockyford for a home. Well, this was decided in the beginning of May 2007, the public was made aware of this at the end of May 2007, and the vote is today! Give me a break! I will say there is something going on within the WSB. The terms of almost every single board member is coming due in 2 months, and not one of them has confirmed that they will run again for their position. Over ½ have stated that they will not run again. Way to lie in the bed you make huh? If they are willing to make sure drastic decisions about our children and what they are doing to them, I think that they should only stick around and deal with their actions and the fallout from them. Corruption is evident by the very facts and this whole load of crap. Sure there might be a fiscal advantage right? It’s about 9%. I am willing to pay, fundraise or do whatever necessary to make up the difference if it means that my children are going to get the kind of education that comes from very small class sizes. Why wasn’t that ever brought to our attention? Why weren’t we as a community ever made award of this and had input when this issue was all but signed off?

There are two fundamental rules that govern humanity, and when either of the two is disregarded, injustice, chaos, cruelty is guaranteed to ensue. They are these:

1 Do all you have agreed to do.
2 Do not encroach on other persons, or their property.

Think about those for a bit. There is a lot in those two rules.

Every member of the WSB, states that they are in their position to look after the best interest of the students that are under them and give them the highest possible education. They have agreed to that. They are not doing it. Corruption. Lies.

Every community has ha protests to these and not one person has been known to be for this conglomerated school that is not on decision table. Rockyford is against it, Standard is against it, Hussar is against it, Gleichen is against it. The entire community of Wheatland County is against it! Are they not encroaching on us? On what we believe, on what we want? Damn straight they are! I understand that money always has and always will rule the world, but money has never been stated as being THE reason for this decision. The # 1 reason has NEVER been presented!

Rockyford has a population of 375 people. 500 showed up for the protest and to interview the school board last night, myself, my wife and my two sons included in that 500. There were 3 TV stations and 7 radio stations as well as a handful of reporters for local papers. This is a big deal. We had a Bar-B-Q prior to the meeting and then we got started. As I finished eating, one of the camera men for CTV got a close up of me holding my 9 month old son. I don’t have a television, so I won’t know if they used it or not.

I will say something about the board that I appreciated. Last night they started the interview process in a format of letting 20 people into the school at a time to ask their questions to the board. Realizing that they had 500 people that all wanted in, the thought of being there until 5am didn’t look good. The spokesperson came out and stated that they will let all of the parents of the children who are currently attending the Rockyford School into the gym and they would have an open forum. That drew quite an outrage! I pay taxes that go to the WSB but my boys won’t be in school for several years yet. Does that mean I shouldn’t be able to voice my opinion? Of course not. The mayor got up and rallied the crowd and asked if that was good enough for us? No. Were we going to quit? No. One person yelled out, “You get all of us or none of us”! To which there was a roar of cheer. So, no one went in for several minutes, and we were ‘camping out’ until they agreed to let every single person who was there meet together in an open forum. Only several minutes later the spokesperson came out of the school and announced that they were going to move the meeting to the community center, where there was room to accommodate! The forum was set up with chairs to seat about ½ of the people and a microphone in the middle of the isle where one person at a time would stand up and ask their questions. The place was packed with people standing up and down the aisles and at the back of the hall. There were a few that went into ranting, to which the mayor did a great job of asking them to get to their point in a concise professional manner or leave. More of the people that stood up to talk knew the facts and made some very impressive statements and arguments. All in all, I was more than impressed with civility that the whole thing went down. The camera guy that was shooting my son and said that he had to stick around for the whole thing in case there was a riot. I asked him if he wanted one. Glad to say that the community represented themselves in a very controlled, educated manner. I don’t like speaking in public, but at the same time, I’m not going to sit around and let things happen to me without at least presenting my point. I had all 12 people on the board there, so I got up and delivered a stunning speech. Not. But I did voice my concerns, thanked them for agreeing to meet with us as a whole community and pressed them to look deep and hard and do what is right. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong in this world. I believe that and I know why I do.

Anyway, it was a great turn out. The mayor thought that if we had 100 people, he would be happy. You could say he was blown away by the 500 that turned out. I hope that today, they make the right decision. I hope they do what’s right.

Here are some photos. (Wished to take more, but my battery died)
The protesting crowd
Some Media
Interviewing the Mayor
This is how we feel
Interviewing the protestors

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