LTE: Premier, stop passing the buck on school closure plan

The following is an open letter from Michelle Taylor to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Mitzie Hunter following the school closure protest at Queen’s Park on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016:

Despite being unable to attend Monday’s Queen’s Park rally against your Pupil Accommodation Review process in person, I was closely watching for any useful reaction from the decision makers. I am very disappointed at the complete lack of respect you showed for those attempting to express their genuine and critical concerns to you on behalf of their communities. That combined with your arrogant and dismissive attitude when responding to the same from your fellow MPPs in Question Period is a huge disservice to every concerned parent and tax-payer across Ontario.

As Premier of this great province, you and your ministers are short-changing your electors at every turn. You show no visible consideration for what matters most to those who pay your salaries, not even having the decency to reply with thoughtful answers instead of text-book form responses, if at all. For someone who pretends to be such a believer in “government for good”, you are shaming the democratic process time and time again.

STOP passing the buck back to school boards for a process that YOU CREATED.

STOP pretending that communities across Ontario are positively engaged in the very process that threatens to DESTROY them and their schools. Any participation has been at gun-point, out of fear for their future.

STOP dispensing platitudes for this rigged PAR process, pretending that it will provide the best results for Ontario students- “Every student deserves the best education possible. School consolidation is a tough decision for boards, but gives access to better programs”(Direct quote from your Twitter account, Nov. 21). NOBODY is buying it.

STOP assuming that you are the fountain of knowledge when it comes to education in this province. LISTEN to those representing and living in the communities you are threatening.

STOP the slow death you are inflicting on rural Ontario. THINK about the permanent and far-reaching implications of shutting down the agricultural back-bone of this province.

As a concerned parent, I started the SOS Pineview movement against the illogical closure of my village school. I also joined the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures, a hard-working group whose members took time out of their lives to protest at your doorstep yesterday. Along with a rapidly-growing list of others, I will continue to encourage all Ontarians to raise their voices against your government. You will hear our strong objection a thousand times over. We are not going away. We will only get louder. We will not stop until you give us back what is rightfully ours- a deciding say in the future of our communities. Don’t forget- we are all vocal campaigners and unrelenting voters in EVERY election.

You have a small window of opportunity before rising for the holidays on December 8th to show clear consideration and respect for the value of rural Ontario communities. I’m calling on you and your government to put a halt to the Pupil Accommodation Review process immediately, in favour of a new process that honours true public engagement and community value.

Please give this your attention TODAY!

The future of our children and our rural way of life depends on it!

Michelle Taylor
Athens, Ontario

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