McGuinty gov’t full-day kindergarten to cost $3 billion plus

Readers will recall that I have been questioning how much the Ontario McGuinty government’s full-day kindergarten “Early Learning Program” (ELP) is going to cost after full implementation. Well, we already knew the initial costs were $1.5 billion. Now, thanks to Moira MacDonald and the Toronto Sun, we are finding out that full-implementation will cost another $1.5 billion and counting — money that apparently has not been budgeted!!!!

Here is a link to the MacDonald article which was dated April 26th, 2011 and missed because of the federal election campaign.

While I am in favour of the ELP in principle, because we know many young children can benefit from a head start, I am not in favour of it being implemented without the money to pay for it or without planning the roll out process properly. For example, initially there was much fanfare about the fact that school boards would also provide before and after school day care programs. Well, as it turned out, school boards didn’t have the facilities or budget to do that, so McGuinty cancelled it in favour of existing community providers — which actually made better economic sense.

Now, in my opinion, it is not reasonable to suggest the program should be cancelled. Parents now love it and depend on it. But, it is not necessary to implement the program in every single public school in Ontario. I mean, school boards provide busing for special education and other programs, so why not the ELP. Sure, that would cost money as well but not nearly what it would cost to put more teachers and early childhood educators in hundreds of additional classrooms.

Definitely something to talk about.

15 thoughts on “McGuinty gov’t full-day kindergarten to cost $3 billion plus

  1. I think most people agree that if students went to school more hours we would be better off. KIPP owes its success to screening but also to very long hours. Korean success has been built on long hours. Just think of the ELP as the first step in the eventual downward extension of the school system, as Maria Montessori want, to 2 year olds. Any child that is toilet trained ought to be in organized education full time. It is so good for the nation.


  2. Doug — I have a two and a half year old great-grandson. He is just getting toilet trained now. He’s very bright but a little slow in that department. Anyway, he is with children several times a week in a home day care and in Sunday school. So his socialization is top notch.

    However, in September when he is three, he will be in a co-operative daycare two days a week. I think for most kids that young, that’s enough.

    In another year he will be ready for full-day JK and yes, it is offered in his community school. However, that is a very long day for a four year old. I assume they schedule a nap in the afternoons for the JK youngest.

    That said, I am still not in favour of the ELP being in every single school, Catholic or secular, simply because I know of many parents who would prefer the half day arrangement.

    Initially, McGuinty promised parents a choice — full-day or half-day — but that went by the wayside. Now, the only choice is for parents to be totally in or totally out until their child is six.

    Then there is the cost of salaries. Teachers with B.Eds were not supposed to do the play and nap parts of the day (afternoons). Having qualified teachers (other than those with dual qualifications) instead of qualified ECE has only doubled the cost.

    Challenge: Why don’t the teachers’ unions recognize that money is a problem and suggest having ECEs do the afternoons. In that way, the program could be implemented in every single school. You know that and I know that. Why can’t the right thing be done if the ELP is as important as you and I know it to be.


  3. Old White Guy — “What’s a billion eh?” Well, when it becomes three billion and counting? Remember, one billion is just a bit more than 999 million. So, triple that and it’s unbelievable what the ELP is costing.


  4. The beauty of education iis that the more you spend the more you get back X at least 4. We all know how a degree pays back. Our attitude must be, what I want for my child, I want for all children. If not how can you look at yourself in the mirror?

    Spend an extra billion and the value added to the economy will be $4billion. That is how education works. You CAN misspend but it is almost impossible to spend too much. The more we spend, the richer we all are and the standard of living goes through the roof.


  5. Well, yes a good preschool program would have benefits for everybody.

    Personally I wouldn’t measure the effectiveness of a program by how many hours a day it takes.

    KIPP works not simply because it has long hours but because of the type of learning that takes place during those hours. I haven’t read anything specific, no targets, no standards no way of measuring the effectiveness of the Ontario all day kindergarden.

    To say that a program is good just because it is long is pure demagogy.

    Free or subsidized daycare may be good ideea in many ways from a social policy point of view.
    Let’s just not asume that free automatically means good quality and long hours mean learning and better preparing children for school!


  6. FromEurope — Of course a subsidized program like the ELP is hardly free. And, like you say, we don’t have any measurement to say that it does what some claim it does.


  7. No need to reinvent the wheel here. The value of ELP is clear from all of the Fraser Mustard Margret McCain stuff + the OECD, look at the Perry study. There simply is no better ROI in anything government can do than spend on ECE, ELP style.

    W understand that when the government builds roads, airports, harbours etc that government expendidture is not “wasted” it is highly efficient use of money so that others can more easily make even more money and in the process provide good jobs. ECE/ELP is an even more efficient use of gov’t money than those above because it is the creation of our human capital, without which we are dead economically.


  8. At this point Doug, it is disengenuous of you to claim that the Ontario ELP has the same benefits as the Perry study, etc. Academics in Ontario’s Faculties of Education are going to have to undertake short and longitudinal studies to prove your points. I know of some children who are home schooled who can already read by age five.

    In other words, “more efficient use of gov’t money” should not be your immediate assumption about ECE. It is perhaps true for underprivileged children but not for all children. I get really tired when progressives throw buzz words around like “human capital.” Spare me.

    The bottom line is that children who receive love and care at home are just as well off, if not more well off, than kids who are neglected at home and dumped in an ELP.

    I would like my site to be a site of debate, not one where people like you put us all in our place with your assumptions. Research can be used to prove just about everything. Yes, we know programs like KIPP and heads start work for economically disadvantaged kids, but they are not needed for all kids. Put another way — why have children if it has to be the state who brings them up?

    So, if you continue to shut down debate with your definitive positions that suggest everyone else is a dummy if they don’t see things your way, I simply will not approve your comments. I have done that numerous times and then you get reasonable for a while — but in the end, your arrogance just comes through.


  9. You could make exactly the same argument about kindergarten.

    Home schooling is an interesting option for those who can afford to have one parent not working but is pretty naive in my book given the fact that most 2 parent families have 2 parents working as soon as the child is toilet trained. For whatever reason, economics, fullfillment, career, call it what you want today, most parents want/need every income earner earning money ASAP after children are born in our world today. People can be nostalgic for another time, sure but it just doesn’t meet today’s needs. Take a look at the polling. I’m sure Mr Hudak has very good information on this that shows that it is very popular. He knows for sure that he even slows it down at his own peril.

    Most are in some form of non-parental situation now. The point is to make it cost efficient, through economies of scale.


  10. My point of view is that universal programs are generally a good thing if, and that’s a biiig if they are of good quality and if they don’t penalize financially the people that opt out.

    If they are good they level the playing field by raising everybody up. If they are poor then they level the playing field by dumbing everybody down.

    I am against the leveling of the playing field by dumbing everybody down the way the Ontario public system is doing. Yes, we do have a good measure of equality but it is equality achieved not by recognizing and encouraging achievement, but by dumbing everybody down in the name of a flawed ideea of equality.
    If it doesn’t matter whether of not you learn something this year because it comes back next year in our wonderful spiral curriculum, why bother doing the work?
    If whether you have mastered the knowledge or not you pass on to the next grade, why bother?
    If whether or not you do your homework, why bother?

    So .. we have students coming into grade 9 with math with grade of 90% and over who cannot do arithmetic and we congratulate ourselves on the quality of our public education!


  11. Those who are critical of our education system (count me in that, but from the left) have some obligation to point out who is doing better. I don’t mean some one-off experimental school somewhere but an entire school system in a nation or at least a very large province or state.

    OECD says 1) Finland 2) Korea, 3) Canada 19) USA.


  12. China? Singapore? France?

    Depends what one means by better.

    Does better mean relatively good results on low level grade 7-8 tests (PISA)?

    Or does better mean that any Ontario high school graduate knows how to read, understand, write and do basis math?

    If you feel so strongly about Ontario performance you should propose a serious high school exit exam like the Baccalaureate to enable us to showcase the high level of knowledge of all our high school graduates!

    Actually I would be curious to see how our elementary teachers would fare on such exam especially in math, geography and science!


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