Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The voice of the people

After five days of ruminating on last Thursday's public meeting about French Immersion, I finally decided the best course of action was to email my thoughts to the parent representatives who have been actively seeking an FI program in our town.

(Other options I considered: writing to the newspaper; attending an "information session" by the opposing delegates, to which I was invited; writing to the Board member and risk getting lost in the land of email; let the issue fester in me and keep me up at night.)

So this morning I zipped off an email of composed (but not too carefully) thoughts. I expressed my concerns and some things I hoped might be brought to the Board's attention. I spoke for a number of parents who had discussed their views with me, and which might not otherwise be made known. When I returned at lunch time, the phone rang. The parent delegate asked if she could forward the email to the Board committee. I readily agreed.

Within 10 minutes I had a call from the head of the committee. Most notably he wanted to clarify his views (which, I noted in the email, seemed already resigned against our position). But he expressed his thanks in taking the time to express some clearly thought out ideas. We laughed (with a little regret) over the tone of the last meeting, and the hot tempers that filled the room. I was surprised but delighted that he had taken the time to call me.

Within the hour, I had another call from another prominent member of the committee. He, too, expressed his thanks for the email (I had no idea it was circulating so much!). As in the previous phone call, my fears were much allayed. Both people spoke about finally acting in the best interest of the program, which would ultimately be in the best interest of the students. Both seemed very much onside with my previously expressed opinions that although this step may prove hard for some (parents, more likely than students), it is probably necessary to really get the FI program up and running.

Having never before been party to such political community events, I was pleasantly surprised and a little taken aback at the entire process. I'm not sure why my email (and comments from the meeting) elicited such response and phone calls, but I'm sure glad they did. Perhaps it is not altogether out of reach to participate in intelligent discussion regarding my town, and to have calm debate over the issues, leading to conclusions and actions that are positive and constructive. In the end, I don't think I have been totally discouraged from standing up and speaking on further topics of concern. But I have learned a valuable lesson about communication. Although those few parents last week were the most vocal, their obtrusive manner of speaking and obvious lack of decorum held little sway, in the end. They may have rattled those of us unused to such abuse, but to those appointed to wade through the murky waters, the much of the loudness fell on deaf ears. A quiet, well-thought out comment holds much more importance and influence.


Emily Tayman said...

Wow, look at you, powerhouse.

mommy's thoughts! said...

Good for you Terri-Ann!