Woman stages peaceful protest at P.E.I. legislature over education concerns

Maureen Coulter
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Wendy Budgeon of Charlottetown protests peacefully outside of Province House Thursday, voicing her concerns about the education system on P.E.I. She says it needs to be revamped. This is her third political season standing outside of Province House.

A Charlottetown woman is continuing her peaceful protest outside the P.E.I. legislature against what she feels are harmful policies being enacted by government.

Wendy Budgeon holds a sign saying “Do no harm”. She wants politicians to stand back before enacting legislation again to see that people on P.E.I. are truly struggling to make rent and buy food.

A well-to-do person with a good job doesn’t have the same worries as people who are under-educated part-time workers on this Island, said Budgeon.

“I just want them to think about it, give their heads a shake and think about the harm they are doing. It doesn’t harm them. They have big jobs, big pensions and big expense accounts. We don’t have a living wage in this province, we truly don’t.”

Budgeon has been standing outside Province House for three political seasons. One of the concerns she raised last Thursday is the education system on P.E.I.

She feels there are many students on P.E.I. graduating who can’t read or write and she would like to see the education system revamped.

Alan McIsaac, minister of education and early childhood development, said there are certainly students graduating not at the proficiency level the province would like to see.

“There are still some coming out, about 20 to 25 per cent, not of the academic stream,” he said.

However, that is why the government is making changes, he said.

The P.E.I. education system has placed assessments on grades 3, 6 and 9 to find out if the curriculum is having the needed effect. It has also enacted the early years system and the kindergarten program.

Those two initiatives alone cost $20 million, McIsaac said.

“We feel our PISA scores will be a lot better in a few years time when we do them again as the improvements work their way through the system.”

Conservative MLA James Aylward feels the education system has been topical of late considering the PISA scores released revealing P.E.I. once again in last place.

“We need to actually work with the teachers here in P.E.I. and look at the curriculum. It’s the teachers in the classroom that know what’s working and what’s not working.”

Aylward also feels the education system on P.E.I. needs to meet with officials in those provinces that have high PISA scores to see what they are doing right.

The current government’s solution to the problem is to add more PD days, he said.

“Pretty much every teacher I speak to doesn’t want another PD day, they want to be in the classroom.”

Aylward spoke with Budgeon Thursday and feels she is a strong proponent for all the issues she brings forward.

“She speaks on many different issues. She is truly an inspiration to take on causes as a single individual and stand out there.”

Budgeon said she has no illusions that anything she does is ever going to make a difference.

“It makes a difference to me. My kids will know that I stood here and did what I could.”

Organizations: Province House

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • J
    April 14, 2014 - 12:19

    I understand that everyone deserves a living wage; however, that wage is something that must be earned. We all have the opportunity to do our best to obtain an education in order to better ourselves, but many students do not take the opportunity to do this and end up in the work world earning minimum wage. If a person drops out of school, doesn't have training etc he/she can't expect top wages, that's reserved for those people who work for it. As far as Minister MacIsaac and the education system, the issues are far deeper than the education system. Children spend the first five or six years at home where their parents are their primary educators, if they are not trained basic manners, respect and responsibility there and in conjunction with school, teachers can't do it all. Teachers are not trained nor have the expertise to deal with the mental/emotional issues many students suffer from. The issues are far bigger than the educational system.

    • Islander
      April 14, 2014 - 16:01

      Absolutely, 100%! Teachers cannot be expected to be effective when students arrive at school late and/or without homework done. It starts early, and parents need to be their children's primary teacher. Without proper parental involvement and accountability, no amount of $ the province spends on education will be worthwhile until parents step up to the plate.

  • Caughtup
    April 14, 2014 - 12:06

    Survival of the fittest.. works in all species but humans.