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Bathurst Heights Secondary School in Toronto is being closed. A closing ceremony and final reunion is taking place at the school on Saturday June 23, 2001. A prominent figure in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, Paul Godfrey, has been invited to be the keynote speaker at the school's closing ceremony. There is a feeling among some of the school's alumni, students and staff that the invitation to Mr. Godfrey is highly inappropriate in view of the fact that he is a key behind-the-scenes figure in the Harris government whose cutbacks in education funding are forcing the school to shut down. We are therefore asking that the invitation to Mr. Godfrey be withdrawn. The text of the petition appears below:
We are writing as current and former students and staff* of Bathurst Heights Secondary School to protest the decision to invite a prominent Progressive Conservative, Paul Godfrey, to be the keynote speaker at the school's closing ceremony.
Bathurst Heights, which has played a vital role in recent years as an important adult education centre, as well as a high school, is being closed because Ontario's Progressive Conservative government has ruthlessly cut education funding in general, and funding for adult education in particular. Paul Godfrey is one of the most influential behind-the-scenes power brokers in the Harris government. As such, he is deeply complicit in this government's destructive policies, of which the closing of Bathurst Heights is one deplorable example.
The Harris government stated early in its tenure that it intended to throw the public education system into crisis, and it has followed through on that threat. Its ill-conceived restructuring and funding cuts have resulted in chaos and have undercut the basic principles of public education. Schools which serve less affluent communities and programs which offer adult education are being callously cut in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies for private schools. The Bathurst Heights community is one of those being forced to pay the price of these policies.
Inviting a prominent member of the Progressive Conservative party like Paul Godfrey to commemorate the history of a school being shut down by his party's policies is not merely inappropriate, but offensive to the community which is being harmed by these damaging cutbacks. Through its actions, Mr. Godfrey's party has shown itself to be hostile to the public education system as a whole, and to adult education in particular, and indifferent to those for whom educational opportunity means the possibility of a better future.
We therefore ask that the invitation to Paul Godfrey be withdrawn.
This list will be updated as more signatures are added to the petition.
Background Information about Current Education Issues and about the Harris Government.