Tag Archives: school

Should Moonlight Porn Exclude School Employment?

By Jason Menard

I must have gone to the wrong schools. At least, to the best of my knowledge, we didn’t have anyone like Samantha Ardente in our hallways – and now it looks like Etchemins High School won’t either.

Ardente (her stage name) worked as a clerical worker at the high school. That’s by day. It seems she also has a side project: a porn star. Continue reading

Time to Stop Swimming Upstream and Dam the Damn School Boards

By Jay Menard

I was going to ask ‘How did we all let it get away from us?’ but the answer’s painfully clear: it’s apathy. So the next question has to be, “If we’re all on board and want to go in the same direction, why can’t we just start rowing that way?”

But that’s the problem with apathy. It’s a fast-moving current – and once it’s moving against you, it’s very hard to paddle upstream. Continue reading

Grammar’s Greatest Protectors Actually Doing Most Damage to Language

By Jason Menard

Today is National Grammar Day and while there appears to be increasingly little to celebrate if you survey the linguistic landscape, perhaps it’s time to reassess where the actual blame lies.

We all know about the challenges to the language that are our youth. Schools have increasingly abdicated their obligation to teach, instead settling for the lowered bar that is comprehension. Text and on-line messaging have also conspired to diminish the language as the next generation’s current form of communication is actively impeding their ability to express themselves.

So we could blame the kids – after all, that’s the easy way to do. Continue reading

Pageant Cancellation Means My Hollies Are a Little Less Jolly

By Jason Menard

My hollies are a little less jolly today. Earlier we found out that, as a result of multiple school closures caused by Snowmageddon, Son of Snowmageddon, and Hey?-Isn’t-This Just-a-Normal-Canadian-Winter-But-We’ve-Been-Spoiled-By-Higher-Than-Average-Temperatures-Lately-And-Why-Are-You-Still-Not-Driving-On-Snow-Tires-Ageddon, the highlight of my holiday season has been postponed into the New Year.

Yes, it’s true. The annual Christmas pageant has been cancelled. So where else am I going to find that wonderfully festive combination of shock and awe? This is the most wonderful time of the year – especially for those of us with school-aged children. We approach this day with equal parts anticipation and dread! Continue reading

School’s Out Forever

By Jason Menard

If I had to change career course mid-stream, you know what I wouldn’t want to be? A teacher.

Well, to be honest, I’m thinking being a postcard salesman would be number-one on my list – really, does anyone send postcards anymore? Even if you’re on vacation most people simply send an e-mail with digital photos that they’ve taken themselves – beats the bejeezus out of those cheesy “Wish You Were Here” photos.

But besides that and a few other jobs involving sewage treatment and other similar tasks, I think being a teacher would tax my sensibilities. That said, I already have a solid grasp of one of the fundamental philosophies of modern teaching techniques.

The lowest common denominator. Continue reading

Tory Puts Faith in Wrong School Plan

By Jason Menard

When it comes to faith-based education, Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory has the right idea – just the totally wrong way to implement it. To meet the needs of an increasingly multicultural Canada, we have to embrace the thought that less is more.

It’s time to bring religion back to schools – but not in the traditional way. To meet the needs of its students, the public school system should offer a mandatory faith component that exposes children to all the world’s belief systems. We can easily make do with what we have, we don’t need to add more – especially when through addition of schools we’re actually subtracting the exposure our children have to each other’s cultures.

Already we’re facing a funding crunch for our two existing school systems. Both public and Catholic school boards are forced with dealing with changing demographics, dwindling attendance, and outdated buildings. The addition of public funding for more faith-based institutions won’t help either financially or socially.

Tory’s argument is that by validating faith-based education through the auspices of public funding, we’ll be creating an environment where all religions are blessed by the approving scepter of government finance. And while that’s fine for us adults, how exactly does that filter down to the kids?

In essence, this plan would stop kids of different religions from interacting. Children will be placed in their own corners and prevented from mixing with others. And, more importantly, they’ll be prevented from learning.

The way to fix this problem isn’t with more public funding of faith-based education – it’s with less. And that starts with the elimination of the Catholic school board. By consolidating the resources currently duplicated across two school boards, our educational system would be able to better manage resources, combine efforts, and use existing facilities to cope with shifting demographics.

We live in a secular society that’s growing increasingly multicultural. To offer taxpayer-funded services for one religion and not the other isn’t right. However, that doesn’t mean you just eliminate the one religion. Rather, you create a system that embraces the teachings of religion – all religions.

Religion should have a place in schools – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t believe in any one religion. But despite my lack of belief, I fully understand and support the idea of exposing our children to all the world’s religions. Not only will this open their minds to new ideas and experiences, but it will help them understand the people around them.

A public school system with a faith component would have a greater impact on global acceptance of religion than Tory’s validating-by-separating agenda. When students learn why their friends mother wears a hijab, or why their friend can’t mix meat and dairy, that makes it seem less strange. Our religious and societal differences no longer become fodder for mockery, but they become aspects of intrigue and respect.

In addition, students will see that despite the various differences and belief structures found in religion, the underlying message of all is basically the same – and that’s about being good to each other and being the best person we can be. By experiencing a faith class where that message is reinforced by exposure to the world’s religion, our children will be able to grow up in a world where our religious differences don’t matter as much.

Unfortunately, ignorance breeds mistrust and fear. Unless one is exposed to a religion, some of the practices, clothing, and imagery can seem odd. And kids deal with things they don’t understand by shunning them. However, imagine the benefits of having one public school system, where children of all faiths come to learn together and share their personal experiences. Then there would be no need to fear the unknown, because we’d have a better understanding of each other.

Then, just maybe, those kids can teach their parents a thing or two about tolerance.

Of course, there will be those who want their children educated in an environment that’s solely focused on their own belief system – and that’s their right. It’s also their obligation to pay for that privilege. Again, we live in a secular society – our obligation to our children is to teach tolerance, not make equal educational services available to all.

It’s a new world with an ever-changing demographic. The days of the Protestant/Catholic school board split are long gone – today’s Canadian mosaic is richly woven with threads from many different races, cultures, and religions. What better way to foster understanding and respect for each other than by learning about the very things we hold dear – our beliefs and our culture.

Sometimes less is more. We don’t need more publicly funded religious-based schools – we just need to reallocate the resources we have now in a way that makes sense for today’s children.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

School Boards Have to Stop Focusing on History

By Jason Menard

As a parent, you’d be pretty upset if the only class your child’s school taught was history. So why are we any less upset when the respective school boards are living in the past and refusing to accept a modern reality?

Faced with budget shortfalls, shifting demographics, and challenges in putting appropriate programs together, it’s no longer enough to look to what’s been done in the past. We must learn from those successes and redefine how our education system works in the future.

The Thames Valley District School Board is currently struggling to deal with a projected $7.6-million deficit, while the London District Catholic School Board may be forced to pry open the coffers and dip into a reserve fund to make ends meet. We’re presented with heart-wrenching stories of how counselors – a position that’s currently on the chopping block – are saved students from challenging pasts.

We’re presented with a lot of vivid imagery, but nowhere are we seeing a true vision. It’s time to bite the bullet and revamp our education system to meet the needs of today’s London – not try to push the round peg of today’s needs into the square holes that are left by yesterday’s infrastructure.

I have a vested interest in this with two children in the education system. My son is finishing Grade 7 in the TVDSB system, while my daughter is finishing her year in jardin, at Académie de la Tamise – a school for children of French-speaking parents, which is part of a separate school board. Personally, I’d like to ensure my children have access to the best possible education, but our desire to keep everything everywhere, regardless of modern demographics, is hampering the ability to do so.

One undeniable fact is that there are fewer students today, rendering some schools almost obsolete due to declining attendance. In addition, where people live today is far different to where they were even 20 years ago. Times have changed and it’s time for the school boards to change with them.

The first change that should be made is the amalgamation of the Thames Valley and Catholic School Boards. It’s time to fully embrace the secular nature of our country and – more importantly – recognize that this duplication of infrastructure is a cost that could be eliminated fairly easily. After all, would you rather cut administrative costs or cut teachers and counselors on the front lines?

This isn’t to say that there’s no place for religious education. However, if you choose to want your child educated in a faith-based environment, then you should have to pay for that right. Throughout Canada we see parents sending their children to alternative schools focusing on religion or culture: Arabic, Jewish, Armenian, Muslim, and many others. Why, then, do we assume that free Catholic education is a – pun fully intended – divine right?

In fact, this rationalization of resources could bring forth a return to religion in schools. After all, a course on faith – one that teaches an appreciation for all the religions of the world – would go a long way towards fostering an environment of understanding amongst our children.

With two separate school boards pooling their resources, you may be able to stave off cuts in both the short and long term. That may also require looking at the existing school buildings and making the tough choices of closing some schools and selling the property.

Just because an area was populated with students years ago, doesn’t mean that a school that was viable in 1970 meets today’s needs. And sentimentality can’t play a role in this. Already many of our schools are environmentally non-efficient buildings that are bordering on out-of-date, so why compound the problem by operating many of them at less-than-peak capabilities?

My former schools in Montreal have been made into a health care centre and a community centre, respectively. The same can be done here, or the land can be allocated to other needs, such as residential or commercial requirements. And any money raised through the sale or lease of properties can be rolled back into updating the remaining facilities to ensure our children are getting the best education in the best possible environments.

We go to school to learn how to learn. The education we receive is more than just memorization of facts – it’s an education designed to help us take what the world throws at us and make the most out of it. We learn how to adapt, change, and take the lessons from our past and apply them to creating a better future.

Isn’t it time for our school boards to learn those same lessons? It’s time to close the books on living in our history and turn the page to a more creative and successful future – one that meets the needs of today’s students and, hopefully, their children.

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved