Harris: Stop Trying to Fix It!!?
by Caitlin M., Oakwood High, Toronto, ON

Have you ever heard the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’? It’s been around for a while, right? So how is it that Mike Harris has never heard this expression before?

As a student attending a school in the Ontario Education System, I am constantly asking myself these questions. Mike Harris is not only toying with education for the year 2000, but he’s also responsible for other disasters we’ve all had to put up with in ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, and ’99.

Last year, I was elected to be the year 2000-2001 student council president of my high school, Oakwood Collegiate Institute, in Toronto. As happy as this made me, I was informed very early on, before my term even started, that I was getting myself into something horrendous. At the time, I didn’t think much about it – I mean, how many problems can one government create that would really affect me? It just didn’t seem to be something I needed to worry too much about.

And then September rolled around.

I came back to school, pleased with my summer and ready for a great year and, without knowing it, set myself up for a huge disappointment.

The first few days of school were normal, all the usual forms to fill out, and nothing much to do in class. Then, our council had to start selling our activity cards. Now, the purpose of buying these cards is to have access to the library, sports teams, and clubs that would normally be held throughout the year – things that our principal told us we wouldn’t be having at the present time. So, our council decided that we’d take as much as we could into our own hands and run clubs within our organization. This, however, didn’t work either. We were soon informed that we had to have some form of adult or staff advisor if we wanted to run any type of club or sports team. This made us upset, angry, and, most of all, we felt bad for all of the students who depended a lot on extra curricular activities.

Imagine the students who dreamed of pursuing a career in basketball but couldn’t because there was no school-based team. Or what about the others who wanted to start training for the Olympics but couldn’t because the synchronized swimming team was cut in their second last year? There are many other reasons for having clubs and teams in school as well. They provide great leadership and teamwork skills to kids of all ages and they’re a great way to open up and meet people with the same interests as you.

So, you see, the government is definitely NOT making things easier on students. They have passed Bill 74 and are forcing teachers to work an extra half class, which takes away from their ‘homework’ time. They no longer have time to sponsor clubs and sports, as they are too busy planning and marking homework and tests from an extra class of students.

We are all very upset, and restless about this issue and want it to be finished with as soon as possible, but in the back of our heads, we’re wondering if things are going to change at all and if we’ll have any sort of extra curricular at any point during the year.

In the long run, Mike Harris has done it again. Everyone is unhappy, and there isn’t much we can do without causing a big scene. If that’s what it’s going to take, well, it might come sooner than everyone expects, but it’s certainly a shame that this is the extent in which we have to go to in order to get back everything that makes our schools so great. Our school year should not be so stressful just because of a bill that doesn’t help to fix anything and we should not have to fight to make our schools a fun place to be. We should be able to stay one full year without having any difficulties with the education system, but Harris keeps trying to fix the things that just aren’t broke. He just doesn’t get it.

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