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EDITORIAL: Fresh start for new school year

Just a few short months ago parents and students were preparing for graduation. Now as summer begins its retreat thoughts turn to a new academic year.

Back to school time means thinking about several things: school supplies, transportation and maybe resetting the sleep clock to get students back on that earlier wake-time schedule.

Motorists should also be preparing for the increase in pedestrian traffic around town, most especially in school zones and crosswalk areas. Let’s stay aware for everyone’s sake in and out of those school zones.

Some students will feel a rising excitement at the start of a new school year and some will mourn the end of summer holidays. But let’s remember to acknowledge those teachers who will be preparing over the next few weeks to welcome children back into the hallways and classrooms.

Let’s also not forget the parents of these children, too. There are some pressures at the start of the school year for parents, from ensuring their children are ready for the return to learning to making sure returning students have the right tools once they do get back into the classroom. Transportation and school supplies top the list of costs for parents with school-age children.

As Education Minister Caroline Cochrane recently said in the legislative assembly, “Our children are our future. If we really believe that as a society, we have to put our energy, we have to put resources behind that, and the next government has to focus more on that.”

So, if you think you can afford to, why not be an education ally. Consider buying some extra supplies to put into the classroom pot such as pencils, crayons, erasers, etc. Or ask your child’s teacher at the end of the first month (and throughout the school year) if there are any areas where community school supplies might need to be topped up.

This not only helps those families who may struggle financially throughout the year, but also lifts some of the financial burden that most teachers expend to ensure their students have the supplies necessary and are ready to work once the bell rings.

The community can do so much to support its students and when children are supported, they will be successful along their journey up the education ladder.

These are just a few things you can do as an education ally. But, with 42.1 per cent of children in the territory reported as vulnerable on the early development index and an attendance rate that has been on the decline for the past 10 years, people should be pressing the next territorial government to work harder at addressing the underlying issues behind these numbers. Cochrane stated back in May, “Everybody has been blaming everybody else.”

However, it doesn’t pay to blame one another, especially when a child’s education is on the line. Supports need to be put in place for families who might be struggling to meet simple daily needs such as breakfast and lunch for school-aged children and costs for transportation. These barriers to students who live in middle-to low-income households shouldn’t stop a child from getting an education and should be among the top priorities in the coming year following the election. Whether that’s removing the cost of busing a child to school or ensuring there’s breakfast and lunch available to all students, these fixes need to begin immediately.

Let’s make sure we fully support the leaders of tomorrow.