I have walked into the School District 52 (SD 52) schools here in Prince Rupert only a handful of times. But each time I did I have witnessed something great.
There were kids lining up at the office during recess to grab free apples, oranges, and other healthy foods for snacks. I have heard the sound of drumming filling the hallway and seen kids with a deep respect for a culture that most of them do not call their own. I have tried to grab interviews with different staff who were too busy volunteering their time on extracurricular initiatives.
These are the programs and initiatives that make a school great instead of good. So why do we still give attention to the Fraser Institute’s report card which merely judges a school based on numbers?
SD52 superintendent Irene LaPierre said it best: “It’s about resiliency not a number.”
Students are not items on an assembly line waiting to be packaged, stamped and sent out into the world as efficiently as possible. The Fraser Institute’s report card only helps parents answer two questions: “How likely are the students at XYZ schools to score a high grade in XYZ subjects” and “what percentage of their students are likely to graduate on time?”
The institute’s ranking system does not take into account how the schools deal with the socioeconomic needs of the community and their kids. It does not take into account programs like the breakfast club, which provides students with the nourishment they need to begin a healthy day.
It does not take into account how they are revitalizing Indigenous culture and teaching their students how to respect one another despite their ethnic differences.
Students cannot succeed academically if their basic needs are not met, or they are forced to learn in a colonial institution that has erased their history from the books.
Schools that are working to address these problems deserve to be recognized. And while SD52 has been mentioned in the report as quickly “growing” up the ranks, it does not examine the mechanism put in place to help students succeed.
In my opinion SD52 schools deserve a higher ranking — than the average 5-6 out of 10 that they got — for all the work they put into making sure their students are thriving.
The Fraser Institute should find new ways to judge their academic institutions — starting with seperating the private from public schools and taking into account more than just grades — if not then we should stop paying attention.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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