Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Letter to the Editor

I wrote a letter to the Editor yesterday. 

I used to write a lot of letters to the Editor.

But then I stopped because a local politician got personal through trading letters with me in the newspaper. The message got lost in the personal attacks.

And then I ran in local politics and found myself self-censoring what I wanted to say lest the electorate be irritated.

And then I became the Executive Director of a community organisation and again I felt limited in what I could or should say given that people would associate my name / opinion with that of my organisation.

I really have missed writing to the Editor.

It's not as if I stopped having an opinion...... ha ha..... so I wrote the letters in my head....at 2am....they were so eloquent and cogent and witty......and then I fell asleep.

I wrote a couple of letters for other people (just like I used to write book reports for my friends in High School) but it's just not the same.

So yesterday when I read this letter in the local paper I just had to respond. Who knows if they will print it but it felt good to write it...... and (shockingly) it was not about politics or child care.....but about assumptions and arrogance...two of my favourite bugbears....So here you are..... her letter first then my response
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The Editor,

Re: "Two-week break passed," News, May 18.

I heartily agree with school trustee Linda McPhail when she said we need to look at the school calendar on the whole, and make it more balanced.

In order to help avoid a deficit, the Vancouver Board of Education increased its school day by  16 minutes and school closures by 10 days.

As a teacher, I quite like the extra days off. However, my students learn little to nothing in  the added time, and they learn nothing during the 10 days.  I know what they are doing; gaming/social media until all hours and sleeping in to avoid boredom. They are eating junk food and soft drinks that will harm them. How can we justify dumbing down our kids this way?

After reading an article by Murray Dobbin about a book entitled The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the future looks bleak indeed for my students. The article referenced that: "A 2005 Statscan study revealed that median earnings of full-time employees  in Canada were completely flat from 1980 to 2005. In that 25-year period, the income of the  richest fifth grew 16.4 per cent, while the poorest fifth saw their real earnings decline by  20.6 per cent." Not only will my students likely be poor, they won't understand why.

Patti Outram

Richmond
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Dear Editor

With reference to the letter from Patti Outram May 27, 2011 regarding the 2 week Spring Break:  I found Ms Outram's statement "As a teacher, I quite like the extra days off. However, my students learn little to nothing in the added time, and they learn nothing during the 10 days.  I know what they are doing; gaming/social media until all hours and sleeping in to avoid  boredom. They are eating junk food and soft drinks that will harm them. How can we justify dumbing down our kids this way?" to be be offensive.  As a parent of school age children for the past 10 years and the spouse of a teacher for 20 years, it is my experience that the most needed break, in terms of rest, in the school year is Spring Break.   We, and many many of our friends, who are average families, take Spring Break for family time.  Ms. Outram does NOT know what families are choosing to do with their break time and her negative assumptions about children and families make her commitment to her profession questionable.

My children did the following during their Spring Break: visited a new City, tried new cuisine , spent hours and hours in bookstores, ran up and down sand dunes, bonded with cousins, fished  off docks, built driftwood houses on the beach, paddled kayaks and canoes, caught salamanders , designed and planted a veggie garden and made memories with their family that will last their life time.  My children and husband returned to their classrooms rested and rejuvenated (and more knowledgeable) and ready for the crazy rush that the last 3 months of the school year are.  As we come to these final few weeks they are faring better than in years before, in part, due to their Spring Break.

Yours

Nicky Byres
Richmond

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