Sunday, November 11, 2007

The never-ending school story

There is a commendably civil debate still going on several posts back - School controversy not over yet.

This was the post that featured an elaborate comment from an even earlier post by Education Equality president Leonard Baak. Since then, Mr. Baak and others have been carrying on a spirited debate regarding public education, and specifically Education Equality's push for a single school system.

Advocates of other points of view have been joining in.

More issues have come up tangentially, including the current TDSB's contemplation of a school for blacks only.

Lorrie Goldstein's column in today's Sun, Black School a phony fix, suggests that a one-off pilot project like this is not going to address the underlying problems facing public education today.

I personally don't think that getting rid of public funding for Catholic schools will "fix" it either, although it would be one way of addressing the religious discrimination issue that concerns Mr. Baak and others. Another way of course would be to follow John Tory's prescription, but Ontario has already rendered its verdict on that subject.

Goldstein's common sense suggestions of merit pay, proper discipline, vouchers and charter schools (among others) are worth considering.

Just like health care, there are some serious issues in Ontario. Will the McGuinty government one day have the intestinal fortitude to look for real answers rather than pandering to the unions?

I'm not holding my breath.


* * * *

Update
: For more information concerning points of view that differ from Education Equality, please check out Society for Quality Education, which offers lots of information on alternative school systems that are working well across the country, and more.


Here's what I'd like to know - how many of these types of 'anomalies' exist right now in Ontario?


Monday Update: School board's odd dance - Moira Macdonald (Sun).


21 comments:

Anonymous said...

according to an OPSBA source both Mr. Baak and the personfromthebruce are correct in saying that at their June AGM a motion was raised asking OPSBA to lobby the gov't on moving to one publicly funded system in two languages.

That motion was defeated. End of story.

It was added that moving to one-system would require two constitutional changes and involve both federal and provincial governments. All three parties sitting in Queen's Park have come out publicly as saying there is no political will to move to one system.

In my opinion, before we ever even come close to moving more into the public system we better be darn sure that the public system is as efficient as it can be with no waste of money and effort.

Do we know that now? Nope. Not by a long shot.

When declining enrolment forces more choices for parents in small communities to make a choice for their child, it's going to be between english public or Catholic
(most rural Catholic boards accept non-Catholic children).

Parents will go to the system that is best suited to educate their kids.

Nothing else matters.

And, as the Society for Quality Education undertook to prove, the reasons for parents choosing outside the public system are varied. Some surprises in that study for sure.

Lee said...

I think the model is right in front of us, Joanne.
From what I read, Alberta schools consistently outperform the rest of Canada in terms of academic excellence.
Here in B.C. private schools consistently outperform public schools.
Perhaps we need more enphasis on the three Rs and less on social issues.

liberal supporter said...

Perhaps we need more enphasis on the three Rs and less on social issues.

[cheap shot response]
Perhaps wherever "lee" went to school needs more emphasis on critical thinking and formulating an argument and less on cheerleading.
[end of cheap shot response]

Private schools tend to do better since the parents are likely very engaged in their child's education. Look no further than your local minor hockey game to see parents who are highly engaged and will insist on the highest grades for their child.

In university, I knew students who would tell me that by contesting each and every grade received, they believed they could boost their average by a few percent. Many parents believe the same and will be very insistent with their child's teachers. In a private school situation, of course, the teacher is more likely to cave, since the parent could noisily withdraw their financial support and try to organize a boycott for as long as a recalcitrant teacher remains.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from the folks from out west who've lived through this discussion before, many times I'm sure.

For once maybe Ontario should pick up a few pointers from places where school choice has worked and worked well.

One thing's for sure, when parents have more choice the teacher unions become less of a concern..especially when there are strikes or work-to-rules.

Anonymous said...

lib. supporter says a very interesting thing in that when parents select a private school they have the ability to walk away if they don't receive the services they pay for.

Oh that we in Ontario ever get to the point where parents can freely walk away from the school that doesn't serve them and their children in the way they wish, and be supported by their government in that decision rather than the myopic gov't we have now.

Anonymous said...

something you are all forgetting is that public education isn't free. We all pay for it to the tune of wronghly $9,000 per student per year
on a percapita average. Add to that any special needs funding or additional grants and there are plenty affordable private alternatives available in Ontario that cost that and less. With over 900 new private and alternate schools popping up in Ontario, it's not just the rich or highly motivated that are walking with their feet.

Anonymous said...

For God's sake can you not give it a rest for one day? It's Rememberance Day - don't you care?

You've got the rest of the year to bash, trash, bitch and moan.

You should be ashamed - that's if you have the decency to know you should be.

Anonymous said...

Give it up, just because you dictate for us to do so?

Where do you think you are anon.?

Cuba?

I did my duty. I honour my country every day and don't depend on Nov. 11 coming around to be given permission by you or anyone else to do so.

Last I checked those honoured today made it possible for freedom of speech, on this day as well as on any other.

really good blogs like Joanne's let the discussion continue.

If you're looking for a break from the action, you sure are spending alot of time trolling blogs telling people to shut-up.

Perhaps it's YOU who has nothing better to do?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

You've got the rest of the year to bash, trash, bitch and moan.

It's because of Remembrance Day that we have the freedom to do so.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I did my duty. I honour my country every day and don't depend on Nov. 11 coming around to be given permission by you or anyone else to do so.

Actually, we sang "Oh Canada" at the end of Mass, which was quite nice. A young Asian-looking woman a few rows ahead & over followed along in sign language, which was quite touching. It made me proud to be a Canadian.

Anonymous said...

a request for Joanne - could you please provide a link in your post to the Society for Quality Education.

Seems only fitting to balance out the Education Equity group with another view on school choice.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

could you please provide a link in your post to the Society for Quality Education.

It's actually embedded in the word 'other', but you're right. That's not a level playing field.

I'll fix that.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Done.

Any more?

Lee said...

I think the most interesting stat is that even though Alberta has the most choice, it has the lowest percentage of students in schools other that the public schools.
What that says to me is that since there is choice, the public school system has had to pull up its socks.
Competition is a wonderful thing

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Competition is a wonderful thing

I agree.

Does anyone know if teachers in the non-public school system are unionized?

Anonymous said...

Commies are not interested in fixing anything but always changing things to suit their end agenda - your enslavement. (real conservative)

Anonymous said...

Merit pay is an intersting idea, but how does one determine who merits better pay? Is it the teacher whose students perform at Level 3 and 4 (B's and A's) on standardized tests? How about the teacher who has students with autism? Perhaps a teacher who works in a lower class neighbourhood where the students struggle to focus in class is deserving of merit pay.

Now for black focused schools:

Here's my theory why the Toronto District School Board may experiment with a black focused school: It's to keep the students in the public system in anticipation of a future provinicial government introducing chartered schools. If chartered schools are permitted, then the first type of school that may be set up is (you guessed it) a black focused school. For the public school system, I don't think black focused schools will be the last specialized school or class implemented. We already have French Immersion schools, arts schools, and gifted classes. Maybe someday there will be public schools specializing in "Roman Cathocentric studies."

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's anything wrong in defining a good teacher by the outcome of students whatsoever.

Good teachers deserve to be recognized and encouraged to continue.

Even teachers know who the weak teachers are amongst themselves.

We've never ranked our teachers according to merit, that's the problem. Where do we start?

Especially given the one for all mentality of the teacher unions.

What makes a good teacher must include imparting measurable knowledge I think.

Lee said...

gpexLS, I forgot to add to my previuos post:
Hows that for critical thinking?
Please allow me to think even more critically.
I have found that there is nothing that beats facts and data.
I have also found that because of my advanced age and my life experiences, and in spite of my lack of a formal education, i am more often right than wrong.
Nevertheless, i enjoy participating in discussions and have abolutely no problem with ideas that dont agree with mine. I learn a lot that way.
Ta Ta everyone, happy hour is upon me, and i do have priorities.

Anonymous said...

Dolton McGuinty has already sold out to the unions, so we'll have to wait for the next government to improve education. Students don't matter.

Anonymous said...

re: Moira MacD's article. Let me see if I have this straight. She's telling us that the TDSB has 60,000 unused pupil space, and 72 schools under 50% capacity and they're OPENNING new alternative schools?

What's wrong with this picture. More aptly why are school boards across this province busting their butts to conform to an accommodation review process when the largest and most expensive board can get away with such nonsense??

Isn't this the same board that was forgiven its debt by the government?

What's equitable here exactly?