Context vs. the Fraser Institute
Plus more restaurant news and predicting the end of movie theatres in the city
In response to Ron Brent Elementary being ranked the worst in B.C. by the Fraser Institute, Darcie writes:
I am pleased to announce that I am That Guy™ who took offense to the report. One of the taglines for it is "the Report Card helps parents choose." There are a lot of factors influencing and preventing the ability to choose where to live or send your kids to school and you don't have to dig very deep to see the problems with the authors metrics (as the Tyee article notes). Let's be real here. When student performance is your primary focus and standard, aren't you basically insulting the intelligence of the students, disparaging the skills of their teachers, and low-key blaming parents for choosing a poorly ranked school? As experienced researchers, I expect the authors to produce a more nuanced report, otherwise they're just doing a disservice to those students, teachers, and parents. I'm also surprised to see the language used to categorize/divide certain students: "special needs" and "gifted." Hmmm. I wonder if there's an assessment of the lowest-performing school boards in the province and how that potentially impacts performance, attendance, and wellness of students and teachers.
I live near Ron Brent and I hope the school community doesn't take this ranking to heart. It has excellent programs and staff. It's on a bus route and in close proximity to great parks and facilities in our downtown - Connaught Hill, Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park, the public library, the new pool, the art gallery, and community gardens.
Darcie is not alone. In the Citizen, Prince George District Teacher’s Association president Daryl Beauregard takes exception to that paper’s coverage of the report, which didn’t provide any context for its shortcomings, simply quoting it and moving on. Beauregard writes, in part:
This story only serves to further segregate the most vulnerable families in our community and vilifies the hard-working educators that choose to work in those schools.
Before shaming a school and their neighbourhood, do some homework and ask yourself why those families are marginalized and vulnerable. Challenge yourself to reflect on the segregation of communities that need more support, instead of shaming them.
In contrast, I saw plenty of praise for the Prince George Post’s report on the same, published a day later but with more of that context:
A city report in 2019, using data from the 2016 census, found the neighbourhoods surrounding the Ron Brent Elementary School house people with the lowest incomes in the city.
The report stated that in downtown Prince George, almost 30 or 40 per cent of the youth up to age five live in households whose earnings are at least 50 per cent below the median income in the city.
I haven’t looked recently but about a decade ago, the VLA neighbourhood was the poorest in B.C. right alongside Vancouver’s much more famous Downtown Eastside.
I think the big issue here is the framing of these schools as “best” or “worst.” There’s nothing inherently wrong about knowing which schools are underperforming — arguably, it’s helpful so you know where to target resources to help those who need it most. But instead the Fraser Institute contributes to the idea that Ron Brent is a “bad” school rather than, perhaps, a good school that is doing what it can in some of the most challenging circumstances in the province.
Now we get to find out if this council will build more subdivisions
An interesting thing happens in this city when it comes time to pay taxes or complain about potholes or snow piled on the road — we get a bunch of graphics reminding us that we live in a sprawling, low-density city:
Heck, there’s even a whole section on the city website about it:
Compared to other cities like Thunder Bay, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Nanaimo, and Kamloops, Prince George is:
Largest in land area.
Has the smallest population.
Has the lowest population density.
Has among the oldest infrastructure.
In 1981, Prince George had a larger population than Kelowna, Kamloops, and Nanaimo. Today, all of those cities have more people.
The number of people per square kilometre is only a quarter of what it was in the 60s.
Our infrastructure must also serve a small and spread-out population.
And yet at the same time we keep seeing new subdivisions get approved. Each of those subdivisions represents more roads to clear, more bus routes to service, more underground sewers that we’ll have to pay to repair in a few decades. Yes, they also represent more property taxes but I’ve personally not seen the cost/benefit analysis of the cost of maintaining infrastructure for a new set of single family homes versus the additional tax dollars they will contribute.
Anyways, the new mayor and council will get a chance to decide whether to move forward with a new subdivision in the Hart on Monday, consiting of single-family homes and duplexes.
I’m guessing the future of Prince George doesn’t include a movie theatre
One of the most surefire ways to get likes, retweets or upvotes on local social media channels is to make a complaint about the state of our movie theatre. And — look — I don’t think they’re wrong. But I also am not holding my breath it’s going to be fixed up or replaced anytime soon. In fact, I’ve long given it about equal odds that the future of Prince George is there is no movie theatre as opposed to a better one. My hunch is that as home entertainment systems (and on-demand services) become more common, movie theatres will be more like professional sports teams or top-level musical acts — that is, things you have to go to a major metro area to experience. Here is the latest data point supporting that belief — there are fewer people left with the skills to make the films that play at movie theatres actually look good.
I also went by and while there wasn’t a traffic jam it was pretty darn full:
In other restaurant news that you might know by now but I did not, Daddy-O’s, one of the more underrated spots in the city IMO, is moving into the old Shooter’s location across from the CN Centre.
It’s not classified as a homicide (yet) but there’s another suspicious death in the city — the 3rd in just over a month.
The province has announced the Alberta Serious Incident Response team will be responsible for investigating historic allegations against Prince George RCMP.
A letter to the editor says UNBC, “Canada’s Green University,” should maybe do something about its food waste.
The city of Prince George says it’s fine to not use building inspectors to approve or inspect large buildings anymore.
“How bad is the wait for child care in Prince George?”, My PG Now asks. (Spoiler: Pretty bad!)
Longtime coach Keith Sullivan being honoured by local ringette community.
Pioneering wrestler “Delta” Dawn Murphy being honoured by local wrestling community (check out this CBC documentary about her career here).
Magazine feature: “How Highway 16 has turned into an unlikely mountain biking mecca in British Columbia’s north.”
A new book about chuckwagon racing from CN Centre manager Glen Mikkelsen.
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