Separated schools 0
A province-wide study was in Strathmore last week to find out how connected to the community students are after completing school.
"The issue is fragmentation of education and the ensuring fragmentation of community," said David King, with the study that has been sponsored by the Sheldon Chumir Foundation.
"We're looking for what kind of fragmentation communities are experiencing and if this is happening at all in schools."
He explained that although the impacts of this fragmentation are different in urban and rural areas, locally it would explain why smaller communities are seeing a decline in population. Although students have to leave the area for post-secondary education, they don't have the connection with the community they grew up in to return later in life.
This is the first phase of the study, when King and Janet Keeping with the foundation are going around Alberta doing interviews and research. Next, they will return to as many of the communities as possible to show what they have learned.
"This looks to be what is going on, but you have to tell us if we have it right," said King of what the next phase will ask of communities. "Then we would look to write something and make it available to the public."
King said the reason for the study was when people started asking for more separate and segregated schools within the public system. He started to ask the question of how equipped a young lady would be if she had never been in a classroom with a man or boy before?
"As adults, what is their sense of community or working with men?" asked King.
Although that particular scenario hasn't played out in this area, there is still evidence that students aren't feeling the sense of community they could, said King. Locally, it is more likely a matter of schools having little connection with the outside community.
Keeping said the second focus of the study is to ask what process is there to approve these alternate programs, and is anyone asking the right questions?
"Typically the only question is if there are enough families to support the program," said Keeping. "They should be asking if there will be an impact on the community. We want those questions explicit."
King said right now they are headed to Lethbridge to complete the research aspect of the study, and then they will plan for the public meetings to take place in the fall. After about six months of putting that information together they expect to have the study itself completed. The final document will be made available to all school divisions in Alberta, ideally to help guide them towards a different way of connecting with their local communities.