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By Domenic Marinelli - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Park-Extension News

Drop-outs are actually becoming a bit more common and yeah … in these modern times—a trend of the past making a return, much like pandemics, essentially an obvious pandemic all its own

And it is at a time when our minds are elsewhere that a familiar problem makes its untimely return (if it ever left at all) … the destruction of education in all its forms. Many say that keeping the children safe is what is at the forefront for many, but it seems like those responsible aren’t looking too closely at what the real problems are.

The numbers

According to Reseau Reussite Montreal, only 82.8 % of students obtain a diploma. Looked at closely enough, that’s a staggering number. What’s even more staggering is that 21% of those drop-outs are in Montreal. The graduation rate for the province this year of 2020 is actually only at 77%, which in these circumstances is a terrible drop. In Park Ex, the drop-out rate as of 2018 … 31.4 %.

Not enough teachers

This is a statement that has come up many times, even at recent press conferences; the question has been brought up to Premiere Legault. Many feel that there are too many children per class and not enough attention is given to those students struggling … those students that have nowhere else to turn, where the only option is getting a minimum wage job, cutting your losses and moving out of a less than stable home. More teachers would mean fewer students per class and more attention to aforementioned students such as these. But of course all of this looks good on paper. Applying it seems to be the issue. “It takes four years to train a teacher,” Legault said at a press conference recently, the meaning clearly taken by one and all to mean … there’s nothing we can do at the moment.

Shortening teacher training programs

There are also those in favor of shortening programs for teachers, those even suggesting that education be considered a trade as opposed to a profession, students wishing to be teachers put through an 1800 hour program at local professional training centers in the province as opposed to the 4 year university degree. This is a possibility many feel, but still, the government hasn’t even entertained the motion as of yet.

The words of a former leader

It was ex-Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney who once wrote: “It comes as no surprise that only 6 per cent of Westmount students drop out, in comparison to students in neighborhoods like Point St-Charles or Park Extension, where the dropout rate exceeds 40 per cent. The Léger poll found that 47 per cent of Quebecers would like to see the financial resources that are available to improve student retention and academic success be directed toward the economically underprivileged. We also need to emphasize the importance of students’ domestic situations. Many high school students struggle with a negative social environment that impedes their success in school. We must seek ways to address problems like poor parental guidance/involvement or a lack of mentorship. We will see tangible results if we provide more moral and social support to students who are frustrated academically and are considering dropping out. We are blessed to live in Quebec, with its natural beauty, bountiful resources and bountiful resources and rich cultural fabric. But on a very basic level, Quebec’s education system must put new emphasis on the time-tested value that hard work pays off and will be rewarded.”

“When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat

Now the neighborhood's cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

Chances thrown
Nothing's free
Longing for what used to be
Still it's hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams…”

-Bryan Keith Holland

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