The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
In the Niagara region, it almost became an income thing.
The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) recently announced plans to open an "academy" to help lower-income families throughout Niagara.
The academy would be established to help children who normally would not be able to afford the chance to move toward a post-secondary education.
What the DSBN doesn’t realize is that the idea doesn’t work on so many levels.
Not only is this academy a bad idea because it’s going to cost taxpayers $1 million to $3 million yearly, but it’s also going to generate a lot of negativity.
The stigma attached to this school is going to damage the reputation of the children enrolled at it. Does anyone want to be known as the poor kid?
Case in point: When I was a young, impressionable lad, there was a vocational school in Welland called Westbrook.
The school had a reputation among my peers as one for "lesser intelligent" persons.
Was this true? I have no idea.
I can’t say I’ve ever met someone who has graduated from Westbrook, but the stigma of the Westbrook student is one that remained a joke for a long time.
I would feel bad for any child having to go through that.
Welland MPP Peter Kormos put it best when he said the DSBN Academy would create "an educational apartheid."
I agree with where the DSBN’s heart is. The intent is to ensure a post-secondary education is available to everyone. The way it’s trying to get to that goal isn’t the right way.
Having an academy for lower- income families is not going to ensure anything.
Fortunately, the DSBN has changed its mind about making this academy exclusive to the poor. The academy will have students whose parents have not been able to attend post-secondary schooling.
The reason: It would be too intrusive to ask parents to reveal their incomes.
Does this fix the problem? Maybe a little, but it’s not going to completely resolve the issue.
The best way to resolve children not being able to attend college or university is to have the best teachers possible, doing the best job possible in every school. Inspire the youth of today to be the leaders of tomorrow, not by sending them to Westbrook reincarnated.