EDITORIAL: System failing aboriginal kids

There’s something disquieting about the way we deal with the state of aboriginal education.

We don’t talk about it.

Aboriginal kids are just as bright, just as curious as all the other kids in our schools. But they aren’t doing as well in class, or graduating at the same time.

And when you try to talk about why, the response, invariably, is that people get defensive.

Too often educators believe this is a criticism of them personally.

But questioning the state of aboriginal education is not the same thing as criticizing teachers. And it’s not the same thing as criticizing aboriginal kids.

It’s criticizing our school system.

As uncomfortable as it makes us – and even if you completely discredit the Fraser Institute report – you can’t deny we’re failing our aboriginal students.

You might not like us for bringing up the topic, but it’s a conversation we have to have. Because try as we might, despite all the worthwhile, innovative programs that help aboriginal kids in classrooms, we’re not making huge strides.

So let’s ignore our deeply conditioned fears of offending anyone, dig down as deep as we have to, and root out every single factor we have to face.

Keep in mind this is the very first year our district gave the native community a meaningful say in how aboriginal education dollars are spent.

We’ve thrown niceties at this problem long enough.

Let’s invest some real money, long hours and heavy debate – with emphasis on the native community – and give our kids the education they deserve.

The effort in Nanaimo school district to raise awareness among staff of First Nations culture is a good start.