Learning from the MHS debacle

One of the largest high school populations in New Brunswick is about to be severed and sent off to finish the rest of this year squatting in two k-8 schools – and are displacing that space needed by other students.

It will add conservatively 5-6 hours a week to our schedule and is disruptive to all three of our children.  My two kids in k-8 are being moved to another school in another neighbourhood.

My wife was saying I should blog on this but initially I didn’t see much relevance to the It’s the economy, stupid theme – but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to as they say.

There is a point here.  In the past two years, the government has resurfaced and/or expanded virtually every road in New Brunswick.  There has been unprecedented spending on potholes and pavement while one of the largest schools in New Brunswick is languishing with water damage, visible decay and other various and sundry problems (like a structural concern which forced a week long shutdown).

It’s an almost basic function of government to provide proper infrastructure for k-12 education. 

When the government decided to pump – what $2 billion? – into highway work over the past two years to prop up the economy – did they even consider the fate of thousands of families in Greater Moncton?  That’s the number of families impacted by this Moncton High School event – families of MHS students, Edith Cavell students, Queen Elizabeth school students, Magnetic Hill school and Evergreen Park school.

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13 Responses to Learning from the MHS debacle

  1. Insider says:

    For the answer to why this happens, sneak into one of the many NB Roadbuilders meetings that are held throughout the year. It is disgusting the closeness of the contractors and both the elected and unelected officials of the Department of Transportation.

  2. richard says:

    Highway paving is a more visible way of spending tax dollars than refitting a school, so the temptation is obvious. We live in a province where expectations of services are high, but where the appreciation of the cost of those services is low. A basic literacy and comprehension problem, I guess.

    Where will NB find dollars to pump into schools in an era of cost-cutting and restraint? I’d say, look at the universities. They clearly do not know how to spend funds in a manner that benefits NB; move part of their budget into the budgets for our schools.

  3. mikel says:

    You may have missed, but add Campbellton to that list of schools that are so bad they had to be closed. I’ve been in bad schools before, but its got to be pretty bad that they would close it down (or did they want to do that anyway and this is the best way?)

    It has a HUGE bearing on the economy, the OECD has said dozens of times that Canada is falling behind on innovation. That means education, and that doesn’t seem to be a priority anywhere in Canada. Over at Charles blog there is a post from a father of a boy with autism who talks about Gordon Porter and the ‘inclusivity program’ within the school system. I know of three other parents of autistic children who have lately talked about the same thing. There really NEEDS to be a real public focus on education, right from Richard’s complaint about the failure of post secondary institutions, to universal daycare. The media pretty much ignores this, and as the autism activist says, even at public forums teachers are pretty much sidelined by department of education administrators, and a certain special interest group.

    So if YOU don’t ever talk about it, who will?

  4. John Doe says:

    Monctonians aren’t really in a position to cry over a lack of gub’ment spending in their city; perhaps the funding has been grossly misdirected to highway projects, but the fact remains that Moncton is treated very well by the provincial and federal government. Come to Miramichi for a visit… we have great schools but no jobs, industry, and a lower per capita government job rate than anywhere else in the province. Pair that with the ineffective government spending that we do receive and you’ll see why many would trade an inconvenient year of schooling for greater job prospects.

    Based on the portrayal of “Metro” in the T&T you’re very likely to find any sympathy from Northern NB when it comes to the ails of New Brunswick’s self-proclaimed Gotham City.

  5. John Doe says:

    @John Doe
    That las post should read that “you’re not very likely to find any sympathy”.

  6. richard says:

    “Come to Miramichi for a visit… we have great schools but no jobs, industry, and a lower per capita government job rate than anywhere else in the province.”

    Lower per capita job rate??? How about the total federal and provincial spending per capita? That might show a slightly different result. Moncton has been growing; that attracts investment, both private and public.

    You can argue that tax dollars spent in the Chi have been mis-spent, but I am not sure you can argue that large amounts of taxpayer dollars have not been spent there.

  7. John Doe says:

    Are you trying to say that Moncton just pulled themselves out of the 80’s with their own initiative and no government funding. Moncton has been growing because of the boatloads of money that the government sent their way after the fallout of CN.

  8. John Doe says:

    Sorry, from the momentum which came from the boatloads of government money.

  9. Well, for one thing, the neglect of the school’s maintenance needs isn’t owned by the Graham government. The file has sat dormant for at least a decade. The structural damage that required closure results from a roof what wasn’t repaired in 2000, not 2008.

    As for the roads, if you actually looked at them in 2006, you would have seen that they had suffered from the same neglect. They hadn’t been touched for seven years. The shoulders showed years of erosion, while the surfaces were pitted and rutted. Almost immediately on being elected, the Graham government was pressured to repair the roads – go back and look at the Times & Transcript coverage from those days.

    As for the so-called government spending in Moncton, well, I live here and can say it has been pretty limited. We got a new courthouse, so now the provincial court can move to a building of its own. About time, in NB’s largest city. We got a new bridge to Riverview after the old one literally rusted away. And there has been some paving on Mountain road and widening of Mapleton and Millenium Drive. That’s about it.

    We built our new concert facility out of the side of a hill, literally. Our stadium was financed with Track and Field money, and the expansion to support Atlantic Canada’s first CFL game built literally on s shoestring. We have longer term needs for a new arena – the old one is, what, 40 or more years old and too small for the city – and a conference facility. We’re still waiting for provincial or federal support for any of that.

    BTW, just to be clear, I do not begrudge at all the money spent in Mirimichi (and like them, I’m sure, support the twinning of the highway between here and there). Thinks like the highways to Freddie and Saint John, along with the bridge to PEI, have made a world of difference to Moncton, though it did take 10-15 years to reap the benefits. You hardly ever go wrong with infrastructure investment – but it’s really hard sometimes to get economic development experts to see that.

  10. mikel says:

    This stuff always makes me laugh. The argument is the same as when we talk about equalization. Ontario gets ‘investment’ and the maritimes gets ‘equalization’. Within New Brunswick its not much different. The arguments here from Monctonians sound exactly the same as the arguments that come from Ottawa.
    People still think that businesses just simply ‘happen’ to locate in certain areas, and thats not true. Molson got tons of provincial money, and the province certainly had SOME say in where they located (if they didn’t they should have).
    So Moncton gets ‘investment’ while Miramichi gets ‘welfare’. If you disagree, then you can’t belly ache when you hear the feds say the same thing.

  11. richard says:

    “Are you trying to say that Moncton just pulled themselves out of the 80’s with their own initiative and no government funding”

    No, I am saying that per capita taxpayer spending in the Chi has been high; the Chi has not been neglected in that regard.

    The problem for the Chi is that the economic base there has been different and much harder to reconstruct. But not much more money is going to be spent there; little or no political will to do so, given the lower population. If you are waiting for massive infusions of funds from tax dollars – it ain’t going to happen. Governments spend where the people are.

  12. John Doe says:

    richard :
    “Are you trying to say that Moncton just pulled themselves out of the 80’s with their own initiative and no government funding”
    No, I am saying that per capita taxpayer spending in the Chi has been high; the Chi has not been neglected in that regard.
    The problem for the Chi is that the economic base there has been different and much harder to reconstruct. But not much more money is going to be spent there; little or no political will to do so, given the lower population. If you are waiting for massive infusions of funds from tax dollars – it ain’t going to happen. Governments spend where the people are.

    But I’ve never said that the per capita spending in Miramichi hasn’t been high; I said that it has been ineffective. I have no idea how you’ve gotten onto the point of per capita spending, as the only comment I made about government spending in MIramichi is that is has been “ineffective”.

    You’ve also gone from complaining about the amount of money spent in “the Chi”, to making an about face by stating that the government only spends in areas where the people are. I don’t really see how you can reconcile the contradictory statements.

    Back to my point…. the lower per capita government jobs has an enormous impact in a small economy like Miramichi. Government employees are grossly overpaid and have far too much job security, which is something that would greatly benefit an economy with a foundation in a very volatile market like forestry. Since Miramichi is the second fattest community in Canada, a national obesity research centre (if the feds ever establish one) would be an example of a government agency that would be ideally situated for Miramichi.

  13. richard says:

    “. I have no idea how you’ve gotten onto the point of per capita spending”

    From ‘lower per capita government jobs’. Govt jobs = govt spending, although the reverse isn’t true. So you brought it up not me.

    “You’ve also gone from complaining about the amount of money spent in “the Chi”, to ….”

    Nope, I am not complaining about those tax dollars being spent. I am saying that you can’t expect too much more of that spending, simply because the populations there are declining. You are right that the spending has been ineffective; but much of that spending was applauded by those in the Chi when it was done.

    It seems to me you are asking for relocation/establishment of govt jobs just to help keep your business alive. Sorry, but I can’t see the rationale for that. We can only afford so many ‘govt towns’.

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