East-side students going to west-side schools?

A public school system going private: Choice of venue leads to decreasing enrolment east of Main Street.

Pete McMartin has echoed what I have thought for a long time.

So, if you are an east-side parent and your perception, for whatever reason, is that west-side schools have better teachers, or provide environments more conducive to excellence, or are less encumbered by ESL classes, or are safer, or offer more in the way of French immersion and Montessori classes, you will do what you can to get your child enrolled in one.

The problem is, if that is indeed what is happening, it will only have a cascading effect on east-side schools. The fewer students going to an east-side school, the harder it is for that school to provide the services a parent expects. The more that perception grows, the more a parent will look to alternatives.

And if that is indeed what is happening, you have a city divided, and a school system where one half of the educational system is emerging as a de facto private-school alternative to a public school system being left behind.

I noticed this change when I look at student travel patterns.  Whenever I take any of the east-west buses during rush hour.  Kids are mostly commuting from the east side of Vancouver to the west side of Vancouver for school.  It seems like no one goes to school in their neighbourhood anymore.  I regularly saw a few kids from my alma mater area busing to a Kerrisdale area school for classes.

I certainly hope the Vancouver School Board will look closer at possibly reinstating school boundaries.  I really don’t think the lack of boundaries has been good for east side schools. This boundary issue could definitely be “the elephant in the room” that Pete McMartin mentions.  Is the lack of school boundaries and the advent of school choice contributing to the lower enrollment in these east-side schools that are on the chopping block?

Living on the east side, I think it would be a shame to lose more schools here.  Schools are the centre of activity for many neighbourhoods.  I couldn’t imagine my old east side school elementary disappearing.  There would be a gaping hole in the community.

East side parents, please consider keeping your kids in an east side school.  I would admit that there are better networking opportunities in west side schools.  But if the best of the east side students go to the west side, then the east side schools will continue to deteriorate academically.  This could become a vicious cycle and feed into the Fraser Institute’s silly little school ranking that continually puts west side schools above east side schools. This is vicious cycle that I would hate to see.

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