Action for Neighbourhood Change works to change education system

Concerned parents and teaching staff voiced their frustrations and displeasure with a hard-to-navigate and outdated education system at  Malvern’s Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) meeting.

Notice of the meeting was sent out to most schools in the neighbourhood and posted at libraries, but only nine women, five men and two Grade 9 students showed up to Newcomer Services for Youth on Nov. 3, at 31 Tapscott Rd.

“We’re quick to assume if things are going good or bad with our kids’ education without knowing first,” said Dionne Lewis, parent and member of ANC. “We don’t go out to the schools to talk to the teachers. We need to make contact before we start to assume.”

But parents are busy with their jobs, they’re often intimidated by the school system or they think schools should do all the work when it comes to educating their kids. These were some of the insights revealed at the meeting.

Lloyd McKell, a representative from TDSB, is well aware of this problem and says the board has set up pilot parent academy committees in select neighbourhoods. This concept was borrowed from the United States, but is tailored to suit Canadian needs.

If it’s successful, more of them will show up in other neighbourhoods.
The Parent Advisory Committees work with community agencies and are meant to help build connections and break down barriers between parents, teachers and students.

During crucial transitioning periods, such as from Grade 8 to high school, high school to university, and newcomers who need to be integrated into a new style of education, there exists quite a lack of information and resources for parents to help their kids succeed, concerned parents said.
Even when parents get involved, a rigid education system filled with bureaucratic red tape makes it nearly impossible for any change to happen.

After immigrating to Canada from Sri Lanka, a mother is still having difficulties changing her daughter’s ESL status. Though her daughter was taught English in Sri Lanka, speaks perfect English and has the highest marks in all her subjects, her report card status still lists her as ESL.

After talking to school administration several times, she’s been told she must follow a specific process. So far, nothing has been done. It’s been three years.

The information from the meeting will be shared with other groups from the ANC and other stakeholders, they said.

“It’s very irresponsible for us to have these kind of meetings and have nothing come from them. We’re going to make sure that we can offer solutions to the issues that were shared today,” said Alex Dow, co-ordinator for ANC and who ran the meeting.