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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Editorial: Happy ending to learning pod saga
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It’s a nice thing when stories have happy endings.

So we were happy to learn that the Niagara Alternative Learning Alliance has taken steps to become a legal, viable school by working with the Ministry of Education, instead of against it.

As a Lake Report investigation documented in several stories over the past two months, the school was shuttered for operating outside the province’s standards for educational institutions.

Now, after what appears to be a change of heart, operator Monica McCourt said she accepts that the ministry is there to protect children and isn’t just slapping schools with bureaucratic make-work regulations.

We sincerely hope the school’s reopening plan, outlined in a news story last week, comes to fruition, that the quality of education will be top of mind and that pandemic safety will be respected at the school.

Arguably, this is the best outcome one could ask for.

We’re aware of public perception from a small but vocal group of people who didn’t understand why it was important to report about the school’s illegal activities.

It’s simple: today’s children are the next generation, the ones who will inherit the responsibility of caring for this planet and the people on it.

So anything less than the highest standard of education we can offer is a risk to those children – and that future.

And while we were recipients of vitriol from the school’s defenders (largely courtesy one of its former directors, Lori Davidson), we are happy to hear of McCourt’s changed perspective.

Last week she said she understands the poor original choices by the school’s operators brought on the reaction from the ministry, as well as a negative public perception.

And while our reporting certainly did open a can of worms — sparking independent investigations by three levels of government and swiftly landing the school in court — we were doing our duty to our community.

That’s how genuine, enterprise journalism works. There’s nothing wrong with positive community-boosting – we happily do that regularly. But we feel it is important to bring our readers more than just fluffy feel-good stories that comfort the community.

The saga of the former “learning pod” should be a lesson to all who feel they can skirt the rules and flout the law, no matter how well-meaning their cause is.

We trust that McCourt’s change of heart is sincere and encourage our community to give the school the chance to prove it can be a valuable addition to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Everyone makes mistakes. Owning up to them and learning from them is a good first step.

It would bring us nothing but joy to see these children flourish and grow in our town.