CORNWALL, Ontario – The United Counties of SD&G received their much anticipated report on rural education at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 15.
The report is 155 pages including appendicies and was written by Monika Ferenczy, an Education Consultant.
Some of the criticisms of rural education identified in the report include: a lack of available information for the public from school boards, lack of diversity in school board leadership, lack of adequate internet, low birthrate and declining enrollment, a lack of student voices, parent advocacy being the only way to promote change, limited housing stock in the region and more.
The last item listed in the report as a threat to rural education is particularly critical of school board managers. The report criticizes board managers for perceiving education as a business rather than a public service.
The report did praise rural education as well, for having high quality of life, lower turnover in teaching staff and lower taxes.
The report also cited the influx of people moving to the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of lower housing costs and the opportunity to work from home and away from big cities.
The report does offer some solutions. For example, Ferenczy suggests that to solve the problem of four school boards competing for one pool of students that the province legislate only two school systems, one for each official language, and to restrict school board advertising.
Ferenczy also proposes that the government draft and adopt a Student Bill of Rights, guaranteeing students the right to access equitable education opportunities in their own community.
In a statement to the media, United Counties of SD&G Warden Allen Armstrong called on the province to address the concerns raised in the report.
“The current education model has created an uneven playing field for our students,” said Warden Allan Armstrong. “The province must start addressing these concerns to ensure rural students receive the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. In addition to the urban/rural divide, the report also highlights the inequities among the area’s 4 school boards, particularly in the area of funding.”
The full report can be found at sdgcounties.ca/rural-education-report