Taking Fred Ryan to task on WQSB criticism
Having read through Fred Ryan’s January 9, “The passing of James Shea and the future of school boards” editorial, I feel obliged to clarify some inaccuracies. I don’t think Mr Ryan is aware of all the good things the commissioners are doing. There seems to be no credit given to the commissioners for what they have achieved. It is easy to find negatives, but with the hard work to make positive change, these changes deserve attention.
He shouldn’t use the name Jim Shea, it isn’t fair when the man just passed away so recently. Mr Ryan made strong comments towards a person that wasn’t able to defend himself, at a time when his family was mourning. The timing of the editorial seems inappropriate.
Why not write a plain article about the situation at the school boards? If Mr Ryan is going to be critical, come up with strong ideas that are achievable.
I doubt he is very involved with the commissioners and the proceedings of the meetings of the council of commissioners. Voter turnout at the elections for English school boards is more than four times higher compared to the French system. He mentioned in the editorial that attendance is very low at these school board elections, but the turnout was 17% for the English school boards, more than the four per cent for the French boards.
For example, on special education, there was a meeting at which a mother spoke most vehemently against the commission. The commissioners assured her they would look into the concerns that she raised, and I know they did, with several follow-ups, but it was at a time that the Ministry of Education cut funding to the programs. This is an example of commissioners working towards improving the school system but coming up against funding cutbacks.
The overall intent I took away from reading this was honesty on the part of the editorialist, and I see the benefit of getting people riled up - and it sure worked.
Aylmer / Bristol
REPLY: I welcome Mr Mackevic’s concern for inaccuracies in my editorial but they remain unclear in his letter. I covered school commission meetings for 8-9 years as a reporter, and, yes, that was not the present board. If I am giving the commissioners short shift for their “good things”, what are some of those good things?
Jim Shea was a long-time acquaintance of mine. We were not terribly close, but had an amicable (sometimes contentious) relationship which stretched over years and covered Canadian Parents for French and Quebec Community Groups Network, as well as the school board. The fact that Mr Shea did not raise certain issues in public (my point) is not a criticism of his accomplishments but more my own belief that there are important issues which remain unaddressed to this day.
I am sure Mr Mackevic will agree that we all must help protect and enhance minority-language education for our communities. This means following Mr Shea’s lead and doesn’t mean we shut down these discussions of means to improve our system. - FR