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Reading the Newspaper Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Saturday, December 02, 2006
Okay, I wasn't actually able to find a study proving that reading the newspaper can be harmful to your health, but it must be. I mean, I'm having to resort to blogging therapy to work off the emotions triggered by these two news stories from this morning's local newspaper.

This is the first story I read, the story of Joshua Dummer, a four-year-old autistic boy who was asked to withdraw from junior kindergarten after spending just four days in the classroom. His shocked parents are continuing to fight to have his needs met within the publicly-funded separate school system. Having fought some similar battles myself over the years in the other local school system -- at one point, the principal at the public school our children used to attend suggested that we put one of our kids on "a modified schedule" (which meant that our son would be "allowed" to attend school from 9:00 am to 9:30 am each day because the school didn't have the resources to deal with his learning disability/ADHD) -- I know how exhausting and demoralizing it is to have to fight these battles.

I once had the opportunity to raise these issues with then Education Minister (and now Liberal Leadership Candidate) Gerard Kennedy. I found him to be extremely receptive to my concerns, but, alas, the system moves painfully slowly when it comes to changing in meaningful ways. It infuriates me that so many parents and so many kids end up fighting these battles alone. I congratulate the Dummer family for going public with their story so that other families will feel a little less alone and maybe, just maybe, after decades of talking the talk about inclusion the system (and, by that, I mean every school system, everywhere) will finally start walking the walk. I know it's not as a result of lack of will from the many dedicated educators I've met and talked to over the years. It's not having the right funding and supports in place at the right time for a child who needs it -- and having a system so mired in red tape that it can take a child and a family years to figure out how to navigate it (if, in fact, they ever figure out how to navigate it at all). And the time that is lost is time that cannot be regained: time that a child could be acquiring valuable academic or friendship skills -- all the great things that school has to offer and should be offering to every child.

The second story that made me see red was a news report indicating that local MP -- Conservative Dean Del Mastro -- has decided not to present a petition in the House of Commons which calls for the restoration of funding to Status of Women Canada and the resignation of Status of Women Canada Minister Bev Oda -- this despite the fact that the petition has been presented to him on two occasions by the Trent Women's Centre and the Older Women's Network and the fact that the petition in question contains over 300 signatures. "We do not necessarily expect Mr. Del Mastro to agree with our position," Alissa Paxton of the Trent Women's Centre told The Peterborough Examiner. "We just want him to do his job, to represent the concerns of his constituents, even those he disagrees with, to the federal government." Del Mastro responded by saying that he doesn't have to agree with petitions to present them in the House of Commons -- but then added that he wouldn't present the petition because in addition to calling for funding, it calls for the removal of Minister Bev Oda -- a decision that he doesn't agree with. Del Mastro also addes that those who signed the petition "should quite frankly rejoice in the position of Bev Oda. She's a visible minority and she's also had an incredible successful career in the corporate world." (Yes, that's the original quote, verbatim.) The Trent Women's Centre and the Older Women's Network told The Peterborough Examiner that they will be forwarding the petition to the Liberal and New Democratic parties' Status of Women critics. Find out more: General Info; Opposition Responses to Cuts; Oda finally confirms termination of HALF of SWC workforce; The Arthur: Conservatives "Gag" Women's Groups: Local protestors visit MP Del Mastro's office to voice criticism; The Scoop on REAL Women.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:50 PM