Re-posted from a Google cached document on April 1st because original was lost. Unfortunately, however, the comments were not available.
Start of article: In my opinion, it’s all about semantics. Whether you are talking about specialty schools, alternative schools, charter schools or publicly funded independent schools, it is about parent choice. It is about parent choice because decisions are not based on a ”system” need but on the needs of each child as understood by the parents. Such decisions are however, NOT about privatizing public education. They are about expanding public education and diversifying a monopoly by providing alternatives and choice in public education.
So, when I read in today’s Globe and Mail that the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) Education Director, Chris Spence, wants to expand the number of alternative schools the board has from 41 to 45 — I was delighted.
We had already heard that he wanted an all-boys elementary school – the “Boys Leadership Academy” — which would be marketed to boys in JK to Grade 3. Now, however, we hear that he also wants an all-girls elementary school, called the “Girls Leadership Academy,” for girls in Grades 4 through 8, as well as a sports school and a choir school.
So, what does all this mean? It means that the TDSB and Mr. Spence, wants to be competitive and, not only retain students, but recruit others. As such, I highly commend them for that. How will they do that? By providing parents with enough choice that they consider moving their children from private schools or the Toronto Catholic Board to the TDSB.
Yet, interestingly, I have heard no criticism from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) about the proposal. And, the reason seems obvious. ETFO members will be teaching in these alternative schools. Which is fine. I am all for choice and I am all for qualified teachers doing what they were trained to do.
However, I am not in favour of the kind of hypocrisy we hear when anyone outside a public school board suggests such alternative schools as charter schools or funding vouchers that would follow a student — because they are, functionally, the exact same thing. They are about parents and students choosing to attend an alternative school which is publicly funded — not about destroying the public education system as we know it.
A case in point is how the Chair of the Society for Quality Education (SQE), Malkin Dare, was recently condemned online as a hard right privatizing zealot because her privately funded advocacy organization feels pretty much the same as the TDSB”s Chris Spence.
I mean, given my reading of what is on the SQE website, they simply want the provincial government or school boards to provide parents with school choice based on the needs of children — such as a school that might specialize in phonics, numeracy and competency-based curricula as opposed to the more typical child-centered discovery approaches used in most schools. In other words, Ms. Dare just seems to be stating the obvious — that the public school system as it is now constituted all too often doesn’t offer enough options.
As such, it is my opinion that the verbal hypocrisy on websites like “The Little Education Report“ reflect nothing more than semantics, differences of opinion and politics because what Education Director Chris Spence is proposing is a variety of specialty schools under the TDSB public umbrella.
So, let’s stop the war of words. Whether you call a school an “alternative” or a “charter,” they are similar in intent. And, if the Ontario government went in that direction, they would both be publicly funded and within the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Therefore, if the TDSB is not seen as attempting to destroy or privatize the Ontario public school system as we know it, neither is the SQE or anyone else who sees choice as the future of education, not only in Ontario but across Canada.
c/p at Jack’s Newswatch.