RBE runs with an axe

The Racist Regina Public School Board of Education (RBE) let the axe fly and proceeded with school and program closures outlined in their foolhardy plan of renewal.

It seems that the regina mom’s last post on the racist and classist tones of the 10-year plan for renewal upset a few of the board members.

Garry Schenher saw fit to blather on and on about the great policies the RBE has developed around aboriginal education. What a yawner he is to listen to! You’ll get no argument from me that the policies are good. They are, and that’s great! But policies are entirely useless when they’re implemented in ways that do not serve the best interests of the students for whom they are intended. Herchmer School, for example, offers one of the most “instructionally innovative” – if not the most instructionally innovative – array of programming and delivery in the entire school division, but Mr. Schenher voted to close the school. He entirely misses the point, that the RBE contravenes its own policy by implementing the closure of schools in catchment areas which contain neighbourhoods where the aboriginal population is higher than average. But he surely loved clinging to that policy to to as he spoke. Too bad for the kids at Herchmer that he does not see his own hypocrisy.

Dale West practically shouted his anger that Bernadette Wagner (that’s me, hahaha) had publicly stated that the RBE’s plan was racist and classist. Well, duh. If the shoe fits, Mr. West, it’s yours. I can only surmise that he doesn’t understand the meanings of the words. He used to be a school teacher, but he clearly doesn’t get the gist of my commentary. It is really too bad he doesn’t have a better grasp of those concepts, because it would certainly have benefitted the kids whose schools he voted to close tonight. It’s sad that the kids he taught likely learned nothing about racism and classism from him. It’s worse than sad. It’s shameful. So, I suggest he and any of the students he taught visit dictionary.com and look at the definitions for racism and classism. And then he may want to do a google search for institutional racism in education. One of the documents he will find there contains this nugget:

Institutional racism or systemic racism describes forms of racism which are structured into political and social institutions. It occurs when organisations, institutions or governments discriminate, either deliberately or indirectly, against certain groups of people to limit their rights.

This form of racism reflects the cultural assumptions of the dominant group, so that the practices of that group are seen as the norm to which other cultural practices should conform. It regularly and systematically advantages some ethnic and cultural groups and disadvantages and marginalises others.

Institutional racism is often the most difficult to recognise and counter, particularly when it is perpetrated by institutions and governments who do not view themselves as racist. When present in a range of social contexts, this form of racism reinforces the disadvantage already experienced by some members of the community.

Dr. Barbara Young, for all her fancy education, also knows nothing about institutional racism. But she sure knows how to use false logic. I had to leave the meeting room so that I wouldn’t get kicked out for disrupting it. Oh, she had absolutely nothing but her calm, white privilege to add to the discussion.

Mr. Marchuk, however, appeared to be entirely riled up! Wow! He let out a lot of hot air, most particularly to defend himself as a former teacher and as a former principal of Herchmer School, which makes his vote to close it all the more shameful. His show of righteous indignation was almost convincing! And he was so full of arrogance I again had to leave the room. Apparently, just because he can’t see the classist and racist overtones in the 10-year plan for renewal, they simply aren’t there. It seems poor Mr. Marchuk needs also to study up on a few things, too. (Perhaps he and Mr. West could be study-buddies.) It was clear that he’s all about “sound processes” and keeping the “house in order” and his fear that local school boards may lose their authority if they don’t toe some kind of imaginary line that no one will publicly define. Anyway, it’s entirely too clear that he is not about what is best for the children and the communities in which they live.

And furthermore, why does he think that just because folks oppose this foolish, old-school and backwards plan that folks are all right with the status quo? His black-and-white, dualistic thinking makes me wonder where these privileged white folks find the blinders they wear.

Rhonda Parisian, on the other hand, stole my heart. She was absolutely sick about her decisions to support those closures she did support. And she knew she voted incorrectly on them; her body language gave her away. But the Chamber of Commerce and the Taxpayers Federation must have got to her enough that she sided with their Friedmanesque logic instead of her heart. I hope she finds the courage to stand up for her heart. She has the potential to be an excellent member of the board.

I have to say that Barb Saylor almost impressed me. But she still buys into that ridiculous Friedman mind-set, too, believing that money matters more than kids (or libraries, for that matter) and can cure social ills. She has a long way to go to fully impress me after her escapades on the Library Board a few years ago (when they tried to close inner city libraries). Saskboy reports on the chat he had with her after the meeting.

I introduced myself to Mr. West after the meeting, and assured him that he ensured he would fail the test at the school board elections in the fall of 2009. Those who would like to assist in ensuring the defeat of West, Marchuk, Young and Schenher, please email me. We have work to do!

Oh, and just before I left that room full of very sad people, I thanked Dr. John Conway for his steadfast belief in doing what is best for our kids. We are very fortunate to have a voice for the children serving on our public school board.

Now, before I sign off, can someone please explain to me why the RBE website has a link to the Regina Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Economic Development Authority? Do they provide some kind of guiding principles for the RBE? Are they the culprits drawing that imaginary line that the Chair of the Board believes he must toe? I mean, what on earth do they have to do with the education of our children, except to express support for school closures? Good grief! They’re the types who would probably like to privatize schools so they can make more money!