Providing Bussing for Early Transition Students to Walter E Harris sign now

February 11, 2012

Re: Oshawa French Immersion Re-alignment Decision and Lack of Bussing/Accommodation

To Whom It May Concern,

The Oshawa Community, specifically the parents of children attending French Immersion schools in Oshawa have learned that on Monday, January 23, 2012 the Durham District School Board has approved the new French Immersion Boundary proposal. Peculiarly, it seems a bit contradicting that the Trustees - although advocating French Immersion programs and their growth by approving the construction of additional schools - are unfortunately forgetting about the students of those educational institutions and neglecting their well-being.

Since T.R. McEwen P.S. will undergo demolition, the children currently attending T.R. McEwen and living within the “Early Transition” area have been ‘graciously’ given an option of applying to attend Walter E. Harris P.S. in September 2012 as out-of-area students WITHOUT bussing or attend the Gertrude Colpus P.S. school for the 2012/13 school year. These children will fall under Walter E. Harris’ boundaries for the 2013/14 school year.

What does it mean in reality? In simple terms, the children who solely rely on bussing as their only way of commuting to school and back (ie. majority of the children) will be forced to change schools TWICE within the 2-year period.

The president of each university or college understands that RETENTION is a number 1 factor in any growth or development. In order to cultivate a program such as French Immersion, it would be crucial to nurture it and fight for each and every student. It is very unfortunate that the Trustees of the Durham District School Board have forgotten about this basic principle. Although the creation of the new schools should strengthen the French Immersion program long-term, the lack of accommodations, proper communication and care that the Board is exhibiting towards the children and their parents are causing many families to re-think the French Immersion route. At this point, a number of parents are considering transferring their youngsters to the English-track schools.

Do the members of the Board sincerely and completely understand the chaos and disruption caused by their decisions? It is noone else but the children who will face anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, fear of the unknown and panic. And it is the parents of those children who will spend hours explaining the situation, wiping tears and insuring that it will be O.K. to leave their best friend behind in a different school, that it is no big deal to learn new teachers, new administration, new building and new classrooms... and do it all again in just 12 months... Seriously? Is it truly no big deal?!?

Surely, the individuals who are making decisions regarding the future of our children do have a background in child psychology and development. They must be aware of impact the change has on the developing brain of the children, especially the more sensitive and more vulnerable ones.
A move to a new school stirs up a variety of strong feelings. If you reflect on a stressful move you may have had in your life, you will probably remember the feelings associated with it. Now, imagine you are a child, who has to move due to no fault of your own and get separated from best friends, well-known teachers, administrators and a familiar comfort zone. Research done by William Steele and Caroline H. Sheppard supports that moving has negative consequences on learning. Furthermore, it greatly affects children socially, emotionally and academically. Likewise, many child development experts see changing schools as one of the most disruptive events in a child’s life. Children can experience fear, pain of separation and other anxieties. Often, children will resent it and lack the social and coping skills to adapt and fit it. The “new kid” syndrome can lead to bullying, ridicule, outcasting as well as physical abuse from other kids.
Surely, awareness, sensitivity, insight and knowledge, along with programs, teacher training, counselling interventions, supportive tools for schools and families may be the preventive key in helping children. However, I am not exactly sure how the T.R. McEwen’s teachers shall act as supporters to our children when they themselves are left in a limbo without proper instructions and communication about their future. They themselves are facing fear of the unknown and that is exactly what our children are sensing from them. Furthermore, we as parents have not received any supportive tools from the Board to assist our children in copying with the apprehension and angst. It appears that the Board thinks that children are resilient and will “get over it”. It takes a long time for children to fully adapt and assimilate and once they finally adjust to Gertrude Colpus P.S. the time will come to undergo another change and move once more to Walter E. Harris.

Also please consider other factors that would surely negatively impact our community in case parents themselves would somehow arrange for alternate means of transportation to Walter E. Harris to avoid the second move - such as unhappy employers who will have employees running late, sneaking out to pick their children up from school, resulting congestion of traffic surrounding Walter E. Harris school, not to mention the safety, environmental factors and a major inconvenience - all as a result of a poor and unfortunate decision by the Board.

As an Oshawa resident, whose very high taxes support the educational system, I demand the necessary transportation to be provided in order for our children not to go through two unnecessary moves. You are only able to build the new schools because of people like ourselves - the true and loyal supporters of Oshawa's French Immersion program. It is our money and we have a right to influence that it gets utilized properly and thoughtfully, without undo harm done to our children.


Thank you for your attention and I do hope that an immediate action will be taken in this matter.

Kind Regards,

Gosia Klimek

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Shannon StephensBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Parents in French Immersion in Oshawa and those in the Walter E Harris Community

Petition community:
Parents in French Immersion in Oshawa and those in the Walter E Harris Community

Tags

busing, bussing, early transition, french immersion, walter e harris, weh

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