Editorial: A tale of two school systems

We look forward to a day 30 years down the road when The Morinville Catholic High School Rams are taking on the rival Morinville High School Raiders on the football field. Morinville has a population of 25,000 residents, a new recreation complex with a swimming pool, and next to no memory of the harsh words exchanged between the parents who fought for public education and those who fought to preserve things the way they were. Those folks, by 2042, have also forgotten all the strife they caused themselves and each other and are more concerned with whether or not the feds are going to extend senior pension eligibility to 75 now that they are approaching the age their parents could have retired back in 2012 when the school issue so divided a community.

It’s a nearly utopian concept; this idea of two school systems peacefully coexisting in the same community, their only battles being on the football field, basketball court or in arguing about which school’s theatrical production drew the biggest crowd. But we hope for it nonetheless because it is a potential reality in keeping with all the lip service being paid to diversity and inclusion in schools of all stripes today.

Last Wednesday’s introduction of Bill 4 – The St. Albert and Sturgeon Valley School Districts establishments act was the result of a lot of hard work and probably harder decisions and compromises between the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional Division, St. Albert Protestant Separate Division and Sturgeon School Division. One school division will cease to exist and two others will gain additional territory and strength.

As a public board in Morinville and Legal, Sturgeon School Division will now be able to offer a full public education option (as it exists throughout the rest of Canada) for those who wish it for their children. The new Greater St. Albert Roman Catholic Separate School District will be able to provide a full Catholic education experience for those who desire it, just as thousands of students enjoy throughout the country. Parents will have choice. Parents will have a voice in the electoral process regardless of the system their children attend. And students will have space as the community continues to grow and as the respective educational options continue to grow along with the community.

But as news, rumour and myth about the proposed bill spread over the coming days and weeks, fear and loathing could grow in Morinville as it has from time to time throughout the past 16 months since a public education free or religion was first requested for Morinville.

That would be unfortunate.

We have an opportunity in this community to move past the prejudices of religion or lack thereof. We have the opportunity to move past the fear of the 26.5 per cent increase in new residents Morinville has gained over the past five years, people who may not share the cultural heritage and traditions of Morinville’s founders but who thought enough of what Morinville had to offer to call the town home. And we have the opportunity to move past the notion that there should only be one type of educational system for Morinville as it has been since time immemorial.

Change is afoot and whenever there is change, there is blame. So who do we blame? Do we blame a small group of parents who wanted what the rest of the country had? Do we blame the real estate agents who sold all the new homes built in the community over the past five years, an act of capitalism that allowed people with different notions of education to move in? Do we blame the developers who sought to profit from land they bought on the open market? Do we blame the farmers for selling the land the developers built house on for real estate agents to sell to outsiders who have different ideas about the type of education they want for their children?

Or do we simply blame no one and accept that change is a part of life, even life in Morinville.

With increased choice comes increased competition. It is our belief that competition will make both the proposed public and Catholic school systems strive to make their schools in Morinville the best they can be. And that search for academic excellence will pay dividends for the students fortunate enough to attend school in this community over the coming years, just as it does now. Just as we hope it shall always be.

-SD

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The Morinville News is an online daily and bi-weekly print publication serving Morinville and surrounding area. Our print publication is distributed on the first, third and fifth Wednesday. You can also follow us online on Twitter @MorinvilleNews and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MorinvilleNews

2 Comments

  1. Stephen,

    I am happy to hear that public education in Morinville is finally being brought (dragged kicking and screaming may be a better analogy) to the same standard as the rest of Canada. But once the complaints, accusations and postering from all sides dies down and the dust settles, we all have to work together to make it work. There should be no cries of “sweat equity” and holding back should one of the schools be transferred in whole or part to the public board. Public money and parent fundraising paid for what the schools have for the kids, so let the kids of either system have what is there and go forward.

    Public and Separate boards and their schools have co-existed peacefully and as close as across the street from one another in my hometown of Brampton, Ontario for many years. We also saw the same in the other three provinces we have lived in. Thus, when I first moved here in 2000, I was quite surprised to find out that Morinville was different with no real reason, other than complacency, why.

    Like you, I hope that the people of our small, soon to be big, town can put their politcal and religious differences aside and welcome people from all over Canada and the world to a great standard of public and separate education. I’m sure that there was just as much resistance to motor cars and opening your store on Sunday, but since the rest of the country has moved on to other issues, it is time we did so. Public education is here to stay and will only get bigger. Let’s embrace what it offers and move forward.

    I appreciate your covering all sides of the issue, as contentious as they were. As a person who doesn’t spend a lot of time during the day in town, I used your website to get most of my info and updates and learn what people were talking about. Thanks for filling that void.

    Keep up the good work.

    Brent

  2. Although it’s great that Morinville is getting the Public School, there is more that ‘sweat equity’ to think about when you are talking about taking over one of the GSACRD schools. I do realize that this may not happen but I will hopefully give MPES parents something to think about.

    I understand that the MPES parents are thinking about their children and advocating for what they think is best for them. They want a brick and mortar school with gymnasium, library, and playground that their children can spend years getting educated. And I want that for them.

    But for my children, I want them to continue to be educated in the school they have been for the past 3 years. I want them to be able to continue to get the specialized help they need from the people who know them. The staff and students at my children’s current school know them very well because they are both special needs. They know how to react to and deal with my children when needed. They know what they want/need even though they can’t always communicate it. They know the school inside and out and feel safe there. My fiancee and I know the staff very well and for the past 3 years we have all been working together to better the educational experience that my children get. They know and work together with the professional that come into our home in the afternoons to help our children learn how to communicate and function in daily life. My children are very schedule orientated the slightest variation in their schedule causes great distress for them. They are used to their current school and it would take a lot for us all the deal with the change. I realize that my situation is not typical for the average family of the GSACRD school but I am sure a lot of the other parents feel similarily toward the school their children attend.

    One of the other posters on another article stated that MPES has something no other school has. Heart. I disagree. Even though I personally did not fight for the school I choose to send my children to, and it is not the first of its kind in Morinville, I believe that my school still has heart. Otherwise, myself, my fiancee, and my children would not be getting the excellent education and help that we need.

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