Volume 93, Issue 91

Wednesday, March 22, 2000


U of T students sit for sweatshops

Cultural Caravan stops in atrium

Kissel in race for CASA director

Parents oppose Harris' new code of conduct

Jane Jacobs talks city business

New study to explain rising gas prices

Cab company makes switch to natural gas


Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Parents oppose Harris' new code of conduct

By Tola Afolabi
Gazette Staff

Parents and students alike are questioning a recent decision by Ontario premier Mike Harris to increase the severity of the consequences of misbehaviour in school.

Harris announced a new code of conduct for Ontario schools on Monday, said Rob Savage, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education. He added the Ministry expected the code to be in effect by the upcoming school year. "The goal is to have a formal announcement by the spring session," he said.

The new code would clearly outline actions which should be taken for certain school offences, such as bringing weapons to school, committing criminal assault or providing drugs or alcohol to others. Committing these acts would be met with instant expulsion.

Helen Jones, a spokesperson for the Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario, said she doubted the effectiveness of the code. "I think we're going at it [from the] wrong angle," she said. "Zero tolerance hasn't changed anything one iota."

Jones, a parent of three children, said instead of tightening rules at school, officials should make the institutions more enjoyable for trouble-prone kids. "Schools are meant to be places of learning and not places of discipline," she said.

Stephanie Wagman, a North Toronto parent, said she too questioned several aspects of the code. "I think expelling a kid is not a solution – it just moves the problem from one school to another," she said.

She added Harris' plan to suspend students who swear at teachers would be counterproductive. "I think any kid who doesn't want to go to school for a day will turn to a teacher and tell him to fuck off," she said.

An alternative to Harris' rule to make parents pay for the damage caused by their children is needed, Wagman said. "By making parents responsible, [we] don't teach kids to be responsible for their actions."

She added parents could not force their children to pay, as children often have their own jobs and do not receive allowance. "I'm not sure how to force my daughter to pay," she said.

Wagman suggested the government intervene by tying a child's financial obligations to a driver's license – the teen would then not be permitted to obtain a drivers licence until restitution was paid. "I think it's a matter of society setting up some way that children would be accountable for their own behaviour," she said.

Amberly Rolson, a Grade 11 student at Pauline Johnson Collegiate Vocational School in Brantford, said the current school code was not very well enforced. "[School officials] should be a little more strict – follow through with what you say you're going to do," she said.

Fellow Grade 11 student Jessica Lomas said students would probably not report any conflicts. "[The problem gets] 10 times worse if you tell the principal. Nothing's done about it." she said.

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