BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Trustees need to ease up

The only way students can learn about the world — the good and the bad — is to explore it.

Columnist Richard Rolke

Columnist Richard Rolke

Holy over-reaction, Batman.

Much of last week’s Vernon School District board meeting was focused on field trips and the shocking realization that the world isn’t always safe.

“I know we can’t be totally responsible for all the kids all the time, but we are sending children to a country where there has been terrorist activity,” said trustee Robert Lee of a Grade 11 and 12 trip to France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

“Germany has had a few issues as well, so I just bring that forward as a concern.”

Trustee Lisa de Boer also got in on the act.

“I think we need to step back and look at what is happening this year that wasn’t happening two or three years ago — and top of mind is what has happened in Paris,” she said.

Yes there have been horrible tragedies in France and Germany recently, but terrorism is nothing new in Europe. Bombs were going off in the ‘70s and ‘80s and hijacked jetliners regularly made the headlines.

One of my kids went on a school trip to New York City a couple of years ago and we all remember what happened there Sept. 11, 2001. And if it isn’t terrorists, many major U.S. cities could serve up a police shootout or a commuter train off the rails.

Kalamalka Secondary bands have traditionally performed in Disneyland, but maybe the risk of the big one rattling Space Mountain to the ground should bring that to a halt.

As a side note, I was in a Seattle mall just a couple of days before a gunman  killed five people north of the city in a department store. Could a similar thing have occurred while I was shopping?

But ringing alarm bells wasn’t just left to Lee and de Boer.

Trustee Doris Squair was hesitant about students going to Panama because of the zika virus. Yes, zika is a concern but so is eating unwashed lettuce. How many news stories are there are about bugs making the rounds on cruise ships?

I don’t mean to make light of Lee, de Boer or Squair, as they have the best interest of students at heart, and as a parent, I want to try and minimize any threats — real or perceived — my kids may face.

However, the sad truth is the world can be a dangerous place.

Violence exists, whether it is a detailed plot by organized radicals or the random act of an individual wrestling with personal issues. On top of this, airplanes fall out of the sky for mechanical reasons and towers disappearing into the clouds catch on fire. And if that isn’t enough, motor vehicle accidents around the globe claim the lives of tourists.

But beyond the risks, we can’t keep our kids in bubble wrap.

The only way they can learn about the world — the good and the bad — is to explore it. Their experiences can shape their outlook on life and perhaps encourage them to make a difference either at home or abroad, such as the students who build orphanages in Mexico despite that country’s poor track record for safety.

By travelling, they can learn about new cultures, and perhaps that will lead to more tolerance and understanding.

Ultimately, we need to remember that the North Okanagan isn’t immune from the problems of the world. Everything that happens somewhere else could also happen right here, including in the hallways of our schools.