Vancouver parents, students protest school closures at Gordon Campbell’s office
Mallika Granby’s school isn’t facing closure, so unlike other kids in Vancouver, she doesn’t have to worry about this prospect.
But for the Grade 5 student at Lord Tennyson elementary school, it is important that every child in the city should be able to enjoy the benefits of public education.
That’s the message the 10-year-old girl delivered in a speech at a rally today (November 12) outside the constituency office of outgoing B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, wherein participants urged the province to fully fund the cost of education so that no schools will be closed.
“At my school we are able to fundraise for smart boards, sports stuff, school trips,” Granby declared. “It’s totally awesome that our school is able to do it. But what about the other schools in Vancouver? Every kid in Vancouver should have a joyful education. And this is why public education is important.”
The Vancouver school board is set to decide in December whether or not to close five schools. These are Carleton, Queen Alexandra, and Macdonald elementary schools, and the McBride and Champlain Heights annexes.
The rally was attended by well over 200 people, many of whom were students and parents from the schools facing closure.
At the rally, Vision Vancouver school trustee Mike Lombardi told the Straight that except for one individual, the school board has consistently heard from community members during the course of the public consultations on the fate of the schools that learning institutions should be preserved.
Scott Macdonald, a Grade 5 teacher at Carleton, was at the rally, and emphasized the importance of solidarity in the fight to keep schools open.
“It’s important that we stick together,” Macdonald told the Straight in a short interview.
In an emotional speech at the rally, Tracy Johnson pointed out that public schools have been helpful to single mothers like herself. The First Nations mom pledged that she will continue fighting against school closures.
Public-education advocate Helesia Luke also spoke at the rally. In her speech, Luke noted that the share of public education in the province’s budget has eroded from 25 percent to 15 percent over the course of the last 10 years.
Vancouver-Mount Pleasant NDP MLA Jenny Kwan was among the elected municipal and provincial politicians who attended the rally.
Speaking with reporters, Kwan challenged recently appointed Education Minister George Abbott to talk to parents, and listen to their concerns about school closures.