Queen's Park, November 20, 2018 - "Recently, I received an email from Dan Howard, principal of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in London West. He told me that this September, St. Thomas Aquinas and its six elementary feeder schools partnered on a parent engagement event to build resiliency in children—a high priority for all of the schools. Well-known psychologist Dr. Alex Russell was invited to speak at two evening sessions, with child care provided by the secondary students and a pasta dinner held beforehand.
The event was an unprecedented success. Some 400 parents attended. They learned new strategies and strengthened their connections with each other and with their children’s schools.
To fund the event, the seven schools planned to pool their $1,000 Parents Reaching Out Grants, and St. Thomas Aquinas covered the costs up front. Then came the announcement that the PRO grants were being paused, blindsiding the schools and creating an almost insurmountable $7,000 hole in the St. Thomas Aquinas school budget.
In his email to me, Principal Howard expressed concern about the impact of this reckless decision, asking, “Does this government care about all of the people of Ontario and not just about saving a few bucks? Do they value education?” Speaker, I wish I could say yes.
With the crisis in children’s mental health and rising violence in our schools, isn’t supporting parents to develop resilient children exactly what our education system should be doing? It defies explanation to understand why this government is cancelling a program that does exactly that."