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Caswell School

Why not Caroline Robins School?

Excellent article by The StarPhoenix’s Janet French

Why do so many parents spurn Caroline Robins for the stuffed halls of Dundonald?

One Hampton Village resident said some of her neighbours can’t get over the outdated “community school” label.

Justine McCaffrey, the president of the Hampton Village community association, has two sons, four and two years old. Although they had strongly considered Caroline Robins, her older child attends Dundonald preschool because it’s closer to their house and a teenage neighbour can walk him to and from school.

“Had we lived any further away from the schools, I would be taking my kids to Caroline Robins.”

She’s heard parents say they won’t consider sending their kids to Caroline Robins because it was a “community school.” That used to be a designation that gave schools extra provincial funding for nutrition programs and other extras to help lower-income students.

A third of Caroline Robins’ students are First Nations and Metis.

It’s up to the school division to dispel stereotypes about Caroline Robins and tell parents what the school has to offer, she said.

“People sit there and they look at the label ‘community school,’ and they think (Caroline Robins is an) inner-city school, where there’s less fortunate kids, that the teachers aren’t the same — which they are,” McCaffrey said. “It’s no different of a school than Dundonald is, or St. Peter, or any of the schools in the area.”

The answer is that Caroline Robins school is a community school because the public school system has decided that the kids that go there need additional supports.  Sadly they need the supports (like feeding programs and other supports) because they are not all getting them at home.  Often it means disengaged parents which lead to lower classroom performance.  So as a parent in Hampton Village, do you want to send your kid to an overcrowded school with more engaged parents and students or a community school with less engaged parents and lower performing students?  The numbers answer that question.

From Mayfair to Caswell

As Wendy wrote, Mark has been transferred from Mayfair School to Caswell School.  The experience has been a really good one for Mark so far which kind of frustrates me.  There are more computers, a better paint job, more extra curricular activities, and resources for kids at Caswell despite the schools only being five blocks away from each other.  There were a lot of factors involving our move but both of these schools are publically funded schools and yet one has far superior resources thrown at it. 

I know school population is part of it.  While Caswell has almost no split classes, all of the classes that Mark would be in until he graduated out of there were split classes but shouldn’t all schools have access to the same quality of library, the same access to computers and the same access to educational resources?  Especially when they are all of five blocks apart.  A good education should not be geographically based.

Of course I would love to be proven wrong.  Too bad the Star Phoenix or Planet S Magazine didn’t have the inclination to compare and rate public schools and compare student – teacher, student – computer, student – teacher assistant ratios, extra curricular activities, and look at what grade students could start entering into a run of split classrooms.  It would be interesting to see.

What to do…

Wendy and I chronicled some of the struggles that Mark has had at Mayfair School.  The school faces declining enrollment and he has had split classes since grade 2.  As he enters into grade 4, he has another split class.  Apparently there are enough grade four kids for a class but not enough grade 3 and 4 students.  It looks like split classes from here until high school for Mark.

Mayfair Community School BulldogsLast year Mark and most of his friends suffered from a horrible bully.  It came to a head when in December I got a call that Mark had punched this kid in the face in the hallway.  While I kind of freaked out about it, I don’t like hearing that Mark punched a kid in the face, in the end, everyone felt he was justified which gave me an indication how bad things had become.  While the bully was later moved to a different school, he was replaced by another one a week later.  Like most parents in the school, we decided to walk Mark to and from the 1/2 block we live away from the school.  While Mark was okay, one of his friends was badly beaten up, to the point where it crossed the line from bullying to assault.

Like a lot of parents in his class, we debated all summer over whether or not to put Mark back into that school or transfer him to Caswell School or St. Michael’s School.  Partly because of his friends transferring to Caswell, they are full in his grade.  St. Michael’s School has space and we are debating moving him later this week.

The reason we didn’t do it today is that I just felt sick abandoning the neighborhood and the school.   I may be in the wrong but I want to give the school a chance.  By pulling Mark out of Mayfair School, it means that there will be less funding, less involved parents, and despite the occasional punch to the face, Mark is a good kid who loves his school.

Tomorrow Wendy is setting up a meeting with his prospective teacher.  We will be meeting with her and seeing how she plans to handle his split classroom while at the same time keeping Mark engaged.  Last year his teacher did a good job of keeping us engaged by e-mailing us a couple times a week.  This year I would like to see him challenged a lot more and we will see if that is going to be possible at Mayfair, if not we will make a quick change to other options.