Letter to Ira Basen, Producer at CBC Radio

November 8, 1997

Ira Basen
Producer This Morning
C.B.C. Radio

As members of the Huron Street School community, we take exception to the tone and content of the piece presented by Karen Wells on your Oct. 29th [1997] program. We are very proud of our school — teachers, administrators, non-teaching staff, parents and especially students and how we work as a community. Respect for others, high academic standards and creative and collaborative approaches to challenges have been the hallmarks of Huron Street School. What a shock then, to hear us represented on your show as a divided and bitter community unable to tolerate, much less respect, divergent opinions.

What in fact happened at Huron was not a ‘coup’ as described by your reporter, but an example of a process called democracy. When one group of supposedly ‘apolitical’ parents tried to impose their viewpoint and deemed to represent the parents of the school, it backfired and in fact served to politicize a larger group of parents, those who wanted to discuss educational cutbacks, the possible loss of programs such as music, library, and kindergarten and increasing class sizes. Interestingly, your reporter spent the main part of her program interviewing 2 parents from the minority parent body group. We do not agree at all with the perception of the one parent who describes an intolerant atmosphere in the schoolyard — perhaps hers is more projection than reality.

We do however agree that we are headed for an untenable situation when the present Ontario government’s policies are implemented. We have seen this played out already in Alberta — an underfunded system where parents, already stretched, are forced to undertake the jobs of major fundraising for the basics, and substitute for school boards. The school community as we know it will indeed disappear, burn-out will be epidemic and the scene at Huron may indeed foreshadow the bitter squabbling already happening in Alberta schools.

Thankfully we’re not there, yet.

Miriam Garfinkle (parent)
Rosemary Kelly (teacher)
Howard Engel (parent)
Vittorio Frigerio (parent)
Simin Kalhori (parent)
Peter Rosenthal (parent)
Carol Kitai (parent)
Fred Freedman (parent)