Opinion

LETTER: Please get your act together

Editor:

A personal plea to the Ministry of Education and the B.C. Teachers Federation.

Quit playing games, get your act together, our kids need to go back to school.

I have wanted to write this letter for a number of weeks now, but have had a difficult time finding the appropriate words. And now I am angry.

A few weeks ago I was saddened to hear that a former student of mine had passed away. He was only 25 and I am doubtful that his passing was from natural causes. (My sincere, heartfelt sympathies are extended to the family at this time.) Ten years ago another of my students died in the Chilliwack Hospital of unnatural causes. He was about the same age. And so, I am angry.

I am angry at the Ministry, the government, the teachers union and anyone else who wants to prolong this strike. These two young men had completely opposite backgrounds, but the one thing they had in common was that they both struggled at school. My colleagues and I tried desperately to help them, but to no avail. As young teens they quit our school and tried a different school, only to leave that one as well. They chose their own path and to my knowledge I don’t think either one graduated.

In those days, educational assistants were plentiful and the Learning Assistance Programs were vibrant and active. They provided academic assistance for all children who needed the extra help, whether they had an Individual Educational Plan or not.

We all did our very best to supply each and every child with whatever they needed. All it really takes is for one person to be able to connect with that one child and even though they struggle in their current lives, they will eventually succeed as an adult.

However, even with all the help that was available in our school at that time, two young adults never got a chance to show the world their inner talents. Despite all the support we had, the system still failed these two kids. I shudder to think how difficult it must be in the school system today where cutbacks have made it impossible for schools to provide the support needed for every student to succeed. What will happen to our struggling kids in the near future?

Now semi-retired, I still teach, but in the community as a tutor for struggling young adults who want to get their Adult Dogwood. These are smart, enthusiastic young men and women who want to better themselves and be independent, contributing citizens in our community.

The school system has not been kind to them, which is why they have chose to homeschool and hire me as their tutor. They know that in this day and age, in order to even get a job, one needs to graduate from Grade 12. I have five students who are currently slated to graduate this year—not many, compared to the local high schools, who graduate hundreds at a time, but these students have worded hard and persevered with alternate learning styles other people will never begin to understand.

I feel responsible for these young people and I don’t want to see them knocked down any more. The current school system has already done a good job of that.

So, please—for the sake of our kids, my grandkids and my graduating young adults, do what it takes to settle this strike. Get our kids and young adults back in school so at least they have a fighting chance for success. These kids are our future leaders, and we need to recognize the importance of investing in them now.

June Oss

Chilliwack

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