The public school system in British Columbia has been squeezed for funding for many years. Outdated textbooks, lack of money for field trips, librarian lay-offs and more have become the norm in the system. When I left the teaching profession ten years ago things were bad, but they have become exponentially worse since.
Yesterday I was taking a look at the outside of North Cedar Intermediate School. You could tell that when it was built, it was done in a most basic way. The siding is sheets of metal, now oxidized, dented and the paint is peeling off. Tennis courts installed many years ago lack nets, fences and plants are growing up through the cracked asphalt.
The bike racks for students are flanking the front entrance. They are a motley collection, cobbled together from various bike racks. They and the pipe railings at the school entrance are in a variety of paint colours or no colour at all, just bare pipe.
Landscaping is almost non-existent. Rocks stuck in concrete surrounding scabrous plantings seem to be the best on offer.
You might say that it is not the building that is important, it is the staff and their inspiring ways that help lead the children to higher education. You would be partly right but not wholly. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a co-ordinated effort to do the best job possible. A school building that students can take pride in is one of those important factors.
Cedar is a community of residential, agricultural and small industry. While there are some well-heeled residents, many live below the poverty line and their children do as well. For financially deprived children the carrot of something to have pride in is doubly important. I know this on a personal as well as a professional basis. When our elementary school got flush toilets, we were just about delirious with excitement. Many of our homes at the time still had the old shack out back.
I very much doubt that this dilapidated school would be allowed to fall into such disrepair if it were situated in West Point Grey or the British Properties. Is it because the needs of rural and rural poor people and their children can be ignored? I think so.