To the Editor,
When our community was in the very disturbing process of conducting a "school review" procedure in 2014, as required by law, a young father made the comment that there should be someone to advocate for children's rights.
That comment has been on my mind a lot lately while watching the Bill 72 Education Reform progression. The government and its bureaucrats will advocate for the people presently employed in school board administration, the NSTU will have to show its stuff while advocating for teachers' rights, but the people who are most affected by our education system - the students - have no one to advocate for their rights.
What are the rights of children involved in our education system? One right that I have always believed was included in our democratic governing system was the right to an accessible public education. Accessible. Public. Education. It's something we don't think about because we believe we have it. But consider this - children as young as four, who live in rural areas are required to make hour-long bus trips to and from the schools they attend. How accessible is that?
Adding two hours to a full school day is physically and mentally harmful to a child of that age. That fact has never, to my knowledge, been addressed in any of the restructuring processes conducted since the introduction of school boards in Nova Scotia.
The most outrageous deficit in all of the reviews, reports, restructuring efforts made by our department of education and their school board administrators is the absence of real concern for real children. Oh yes, they talk about making better schools for children, but the children they are thinking about are not real children. They are children as they imagine them - an approximation, a biddable, nameless mass of young humans who (or should I have said 'that') with the right processing will score those elusive high marks on standardized tests.
Perhaps it is time to form a children's advocacy group.
Carol Hyslop, Wentworth