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Board Vows Discipline for Protesting Students


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#1 Jen.Uh.Fur

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 07:36 PM

Hundreds of Catholic high school students will be disciplined for walking out of class Monday to protest budget cuts that will effectively close libraries, school officials say.

Jill Braido, communications co-ordinator for the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, said principals at Assumption, Brennan, Villanova and St. Anne determined there would likely be some form of action taken against many of the protesters.

“I know some of the kids had notes from their parents,” said Braido. “But for those without permission to be out, there have to be consequences, or some form of discipline for being out of class.”

She said she spoke to the principals or vice-principals of some of the schools involved and was told those who walked out will be marked truant, if they do not have a letter of permission from a parent or guardian.

Of those without permission, the students who have a record of being chronically absent could receive a suspension. Those who are rarely absent, will likely be marked truant and serve a detention.

But the students say they have given school officials a lesson in civil disobedience by staging the walkout to protest the decision which was made behind closed doors.

“Our main goal is to show them we are upset,” said Erica Martini, a Grade 11 student at St. Anne, where hundreds of kids walked out. “If they don’t know we’re upset they’re not going to do anything about it. So hopefully if they see us out here they will say maybe we can make some changes.”

The trustees met behind closed doors April 12 to discuss an expected enrolment drop of between 800 and 1,000 students. Such a drop would mean the loss of $8 - $10 million in Ministry of Education funding, creating a deficit that school boards aren’t allowed to run.

The lay offs, recommended by administration, was the proposed solution.

The decision was made with no public consultation or debate.

“We want people to fight for the cause and we want people to be aware that this is going to take a serious toll on secondary schools and primary schools around the nation,” said Drake Teves, a Grade 11 student at Villanvoa.

More than 220 students walked out at St. Anne. Between a dozen and 20 students formed a picket line in front of Assumption at different points during the morning, vowing to remain on the street throughout the day. About 40 more cut classes at Villanova and 118 were reported out at Brennan.

“There’s a lot of opposition but some students aren’t coming out because they’re afraid to get suspended,” said Assumption Grade 10 student Adam Reaume. “But this is what we’re standing up for and repercussions mean nothing.”

Michael Lajoie, the 15-year-old Assumption student who has spearheaded the student response to the board decision said he was “kind of upset” with the turnout at the rallies.

He noted about 700 students attend Assumption but, just after 10 a.m., only 12 were on the sidewalk in front of the building. “We just got up and left,” he said. “There was no warning (given by the school administration) about consequences but that doesn’t bother me.”

He said the protest received a lot of student support on Facebook but he has learned that does not necessarily translate to large numbers on the street. Nevertheless, Lajoie said the students had an important message to send the board and administration about the effect the layoffs might have on their education.

Reaume added the effects of the layoffs are already being felt at the school. He said students using the libraries have reported that the computers are not as well maintained, are slow to log on and, on some, there is no Internet access.

The St. Anne walkout was likely the largest. Hundreds of students skipped class and clogged the street outside their school with vehicles. They chanted and cheered through megaphones and blew Vuvuzelas.

Some students huddled under umbrellas while others gathered in a large tent. Many students seemed unphased by the rain and stood on the roofs of cars. One group, in for the long haul, arrived in a pickup truck with a barbecue.

Even the threat of punishment wasn’t enough to keep the kids off the street.

“They warned us that if we don’t have a sign out sheet we can get in trouble,” said Martini. “We’ll probably get detention or something. But I don’t really care. I’m supporting what I want.”

A few teachers and librarians briefly joined students as they protested.

“The libraries are a key part of our school community,” said literacy success teacher Bonnie Jefford, whose job is not on the chopping block. “To see them cut, to lose our secretaries, it’s a crying shame. I think the more the parents get involved and the students get involved, the more the board will understand how much we need them in our schools.”

School librarian Michelle Rau, who will be laid off June 10, said the student support was heart warming. She said it was confirmation of her belief that libraries are “a place to inspire.”

“It means a lot that the kids are willing to stand out in the rain in this freezing cold May weather to promote what matters to them,” she said.



#2 Jill

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 08:01 PM

Bull crap. This pisses me off.

#3 Jen.Uh.Fur

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 08:11 PM

My sister goes to Villanova, and apparently they had the police there to give out tickets if they didn't go back inside the school.

They ended up with 3 detentions.

#4 mysticmom

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 08:18 PM

I told my son not to participate as he may lose his New York trip I paid for next week. He wanted to go out, but was told they would lose the trip. SO he stayed in and was told later they would have only got a detention. THey should not close the libraries, that is BS.

#5 justsamma

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 08:19 PM

Bullshit.
they should have the right to protest if they believe what is going on is unfair.

#6 Jen K

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 08:46 PM

I wondered what they were protesting when I drove by today.

#7 Jill

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 09:54 PM

They are protesting something very important, too.. you'd think they'd show some support for that.

#8 Sam

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 02:11 AM

Couldn't they have protested during non-school hours? Seems like those who were serious about the protest may be overshadowed by students who just wanted to cut class. I mean seriously, showing up with a BBQ? If they want to protest during school hours without parents permission to cut class, then get the detention. Otherwise rally on your own time.

I didn't really think the libraries were of much use anymore with internet access so readily available. If they have to make a cut somewhere, I like that it came from there, and not teachers.

#9 sherri

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 06:37 AM

I didn't really think the libraries were of much use anymore with internet access so readily available. If they have to make a cut somewhere, I like that it came from there, and not teachers.



i dont think they are used as much for things they used to be used for however they are still used on a daily basis
and if the teachers are going to require homework projects ect to be done by only using the internet and typed out then they should have libraries access for the kids to go to

there are still families that dont have internet access
i know several times my daughter has had to print stuff and my printer was acting up and she couldnt print it
we live in the county and have limited access at the public library so she had to go to the school library to print the stuff she needed

#10 turtle'smom

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 07:22 AM

I think it is ridiculous for them to close the library's in the first place considering it is not helping to keep the teachers safe. They are still going to be doing layoffs in the coming years for teachers.

#11 JavaBean

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 07:37 AM

I commend the students for standing up for a decision that they feel is wrong. This decision directly affects THEM, not their parents so much. And if you're going to protest something and have an effect, doing it during a time that is going to disrupt things a bit is the best way to be heard. After hours wouldn't have been as effective for what they were trying to do.

#12 Lasergirl

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 07:42 AM

Hmm- If that had been my child I would have been right out there with him. And I would gladly take the detention- even though it is BS they got one in the 1st place. They have every right to protest

#13 DivineMrsM

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 07:45 AM

I commend the students for standing up for a decision that they feel is wrong. This decision directly affects THEM, not their parents so much. And if you're going to protest something and have an effect, doing it during a time that is going to disrupt things a bit is the best way to be heard. After hours wouldn't have been as effective for what they were trying to do.



ITA

#14 Lasergirl

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 07:57 AM

Couldn't they have protested during non-school hours? Seems like those who were serious about the protest may be overshadowed by students who just wanted to cut class. I mean seriously, showing up with a BBQ? If they want to protest during school hours without parents permission to cut class, then get the detention. Otherwise rally on your own time.

I didn't really think the libraries were of much use anymore with internet access so readily available. If they have to make a cut somewhere, I like that it came from there, and not teachers.


1st off- what kind of reaction from the board is protesting after hours going to get? During school hours is the most effective time. 2ndly- in grade school the library is used daily by the classes. In highschool kids go to do projects if they have spares. Lastly- here are a whack of teachers set to be cut as well

#15 terbear

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:07 AM

As a parent of kids in that age group...

This scenario has two things in it that I try to teach my kids. They are not mutually exclusive..

1- Rules/laws/actions have consequences
2- Stand up for what you believe in

In this case, I would encourage my kids to protest if they felt strongly about it BUT in doing so there may be consequences to their actions that they have to realize and weigh in their decision.

In this case, all the parents that agreed with the protest could have easily written a excuse my kid note and all the power of the situation by the school board could have been taken away and place back into the kids hands. All the silly power trip games and fear would have been gone.

For those kids that didn't have a note...they gamble knowning their would likely be consequences. No one should be upset there were consequences.

Standing up for what you believe in is a good thing but at the same time there are consequences to your actions.

The exact same thing can be said about the school board's choice about the cutbacks. They have to live with the consequences of those choices (there are many). I have no doubt they, as I teach my kids, weighed all the postive and negative aspects of the decision against the risk/benifit of the outcome to come to a decision. The school board too has to realize that their actions have consequences too.

#16 Lasergirl

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:46 AM

I fail to see how a detention is 'punishment' anyways. Just gives them another day off

#17 Jen.Uh.Fur

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:47 AM

I fail to see how a detention is 'punishment' anyways. Just gives them another day off


Detention isn't a day off. It's usually about an hour, sometimes more where they sit in a desk and do nothing.

#18 Lasergirl

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:50 AM

jOh yeah-- I was thinking suspension. Either way it is a waste of time IMO

#19 Kris

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 09:13 AM

Good for the students! I know if I was still in HS I would have been out there. The threat of detentions and suspensions is stupid but easily avoid with a note form parents. I agree it needed to be done during school hours, after school would have had no effect since there would be no one there!

#20 Jill

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 10:00 AM

I agree.. what good would it do to protest after hours?? You want to protest when the most people are listening.

This is actually something worthwhile to protest, and I agree with whoever said it.. I'd be right there with them! I wouldn't give a crap about a detention or a suspension. I've had both, it never held me back from a thing. lol

#21 Sam

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 02:51 PM

After school hours -2:30pm would still be an effective time to hold a rally. Perhaps even in front of the school board if that is who you are protesting against. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the teachers are also against these cuts, and that on their personal time some were also out with the children protesting? If the message is for the school board they should rally there. They can also write petitions etc. Standing on a line with a BBQ and disrupting traffic is not the only way to make a point.

I didn't realize how much the library was still used. I guess it all depends on the individual. My DD (grade 11) hasn't used a library since grade 2.

#22 rwf05

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 08:46 PM

If my daughter went to those schools, she would not be recieving detention, as she would not only recieve my support and permission to not be in class, but also my encouragement.

#23 Jessica H

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:29 AM

If they had a letter from their parents saying they could leave, then no detention. My dd goes to Villanova, and the school warned them ahead of time about the discipline. Also the school made a petition for them to all sign to give to the Board. I think having something in writing is far more effect then having 40 students of out 1500 standing around outside. I told my dd not to protest because truthfully she does not use the library, she typically uses the internet and this is not something she feels strongly about, so I felt her receiving a detention for a cause she really does not feel for is just silly! IMO

I do think closing the libraries is ludicris! Especially in Grade school, my boys love going to the library every week and getting a new book out and they will miss that alot now! High school it does suck, but lets face it majority of kids use the internet for their research typically.

#24 Jill

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:36 PM

My kids love going too!!

#25 mom2nico

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 08:39 PM

Some of the Catholic schools don't even have libraries anymore. They have travelling book carts. I think that takes all of the experience out of it and I imagine that the librarians that travelled with the carts will now be gone too. The books will probably be distributed out into the classrooms by age/interest/curriculum. I prefer how the public board has teacher-librarians. The teachers actually organize educational lessons for the students to do while in the library. It's promoting literacy much better IMO.

#26 Jill

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:47 PM

I hope our librarian is safe.. I don't even know, to be honest!! The library is definitely still open at this point, though.