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I know we don't have a private/charter/public system but I do see disparity between public schools depending on their geographic region. There are schools with very active school councils that access community partners to bring large cash amounts into schools beyond the school budgets. These schools end up with cutting technology and equipment. Students in schools without these large cash investments rely on regular school budgets and often have the expectation to access the same resources. It creates an inequitable system. I work in a school with almost no school council engagement, our teachers used to resent this lack of engagement from the community. Over the years we have come to understand the working situations of many of our families, which prevent them from attending meetings. We also know language barriers contribute to the feeling of alienation from the school system. We have realized that organized school events are very well attended, so while we think parents are disengaged from their child's education, in fact they make every effort to come to other school events.
I completely agree with your observations here, Toni. Students in schools only kilometres away from one another can have completely different experiences with learning opportunities. My school board has adopted a BYOD (Bring your own device) policy in recent years and while I can see the benefits of this in some ways, it definitely sets up a divide between the haves and the have-nots, even within the same classroom. This is one of the reasons I struggle with the Ed-Tech "revolution" in education. A movement is not a revolution if it only benefits the rich kids.
Thank you for giving these examples. And Kate I totally agree with you about the divide in schools. The leadership team at my school has been examining the work done in the TDSB about equity programming which resulted in this report in December: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/Portals/0/community/docs/EETFReportPdfVersion.pdf
At my school we run multiple international field trips per year, have a number of elite sports teams, and offer programs that require a deposit of $1000 per student in order to participate. Some of these opportunities are very unique, I agree, but at what cost to the perception and diminishing attitude towards the rest of the school community? I would like to see a return to recognizing honour and valour over academics. I'd like to see sports programs where everyone can play, like intramurals. I'd like to see multiple fundraising opportunities for students who want to participate in programs or trips with a cost. Frankly, I'd like to see everyone who wants to go on the trip take part in that fundraising....or simply the program or trip doesn't run. If cost is a barrier in a public school, then we're not doing our job well. #rantover