Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Awareness of rural community stake in Bill 72

Online First Opinion

To the Editor:

My name is Danielle Duggan, I am a resident of Antigonish, a parent, and a concerned citizen.

I am urgently concerned that not enough media attention has been given to what Bill 72 means for rural communities.

I don’t think people realize that teachers/parents/students/principals/NSTU are not the only stakeholders in this. It’s a centralization issue. It’s not about educational reform. Educational reform has been promised to follow this, but what will that look like? This Bill will affect ALL OF US. And I am particularly concerned about its impact on regional/rural areas, as the dissolution of the school boards removes the sole vehicle for local communities to participate in Education decisions and reforms.

The Bill provides NOTHING AT ALL to replace our democratically elected representation. This is particularly concerning when you consider what it means for things like local school closure decisions, which in turn affect things like attraction and retention in our communities.

People may not realize what they are giving up. Here in Antigonish, we value our elected board tremendously because we were faced with ill-advised school closure decisions last year, and the elected school board was instrumental in helping the right decisions get made based on what makes sense for our community – not decision makers from Halifax.

The timeline for passing this legislation is helping to ensure that the public does not have enough opportunity to get informed, and I find that enormously concerning. With the Bill about to get passed, I want to see our local/provincial media on this aspect of the story.

Public Call to action:

Write or email your MLA now, copy Zach Churchill, the premier, and every MLA in the province. It doesn’t have to be a long note. Just make your concerns known and on the record. If you don’t have computer access, bring a hand-written letter to your MLA’s office.

If you can get out and make some noise in the streets, so much the better. Band together. Gather at your local community spaces (we used our library). Invite speakers and the media. Make some signs. Be visible. Although, time for such things has perhaps sadly run out.

Any parents who want to engage on this can also join the Facebook Page ‘I Support Public Education’. You will perhaps be encouraged to see the groundswell of activism and advocacy on display there.

Danielle Duggan

Antigonish

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