IN WHICH MM CLIMBS ON HER SOAP BOX . . .
I’m thinking it isn’t just the kids and the teachers who lose out when a school is closed–the entire community takes a king-hit. The children will go elsewhere to school; the teachers will find new jobs. But there will be a gaping hole in the fabric of the community which nothing else will fill. Schools are like glue, binding neighbourhoods together in so many ways. Of course schools bring people together to share the responsibility for their children’s education, but a school is so much more. It’s the scene of a whole range of other activities: community bake sales, sporting events, carnivals, dances, polling places, immunisation and other health drives; public meetings, and no doubt a host of other activities in various communities.
It’s not just about the kids; the whole family loses the sense of community that attaches to a local school when a child is transferred to another location. Nowadays it’s not unusual for parents to work and shop outside of their community, and when the kids have to attend school outside that community as well, there really isn’t much left there to identify with.
It seems to me that, given that the school is paid for by the people in the community– indeed, it’s likely to be the biggest single resource shared by the people there–when a school closes, shouldn’t the people whose taxes have paid for it, and run it, decide how they want to use it? Community consultation should be transparently inclusive, but all too often what is touted as community consultation is merely solicited input from a handful of residents, who may or may not be representative of the wider community views. When that happens the opportunity for genuine public debate, and consideration of a variety of ideas, is replaced by a rubber stamp.
There are so many exciting and enriching ways to use the vacant buildings and land–Why in the world are we letting them sit idle??? I’m not through with this; stay tuned! MM