P4E “Conference” Nov.13th & SQE “AGM” on Dec.4th

Two events will be happening within the next few weeks. First, there is the People for Education (P4E) conference on Saturday November 13th and Sunday, November 14th, 2010. Being held at York University, north of Toronto, in the Schulich School of Business, it has lots of seminars and speakers. Click here to check out the P4E website and where parents can register.

A quick look at the seminar leaders and speakers and it becomes very clear the conference includes everyone who is anyone in the current Ontario education system, be they practising teachers, union representatives, officials from area boards of education, academics doing important work on the brain, staff from the Ontario LD Association and the relatively new Ontario Minister of Education, Leona Dombrowsky.

However, as in all Western democracies, not everyone is happy with the current public education system, whether secular or Catholic. So, for all those parents who want to hear what’s wrong with our schools, the Society for Quality Education (SQE) is presenting Michael Zwaagstra at their Annual General Meeting on Saturday, December 4th, 2010 at Metro Hall in Toronto. It too sounds interesting.

However, don’t be fooled that Zwaagstra is some down-on-schools outsider. He isn’t. He is currently a Manitoba high school teacher who just happened to write a book about: (a) what is wrong with our public schools, and (b) possible solutions to what is wrong.

In my opinion, the (b) is even more important than the (a). Anyone can complain about the education system. In fact, they have been doing so since public education began. However, we are likely talking about tweaking the system, not completely reforming it? Why? Because change in education is always about ten years behind the latest research. So, by the time any kind of reform is fully implemented, it is then time to look at what’s wrong with it.

The crux of the matter is, however, that while P4E and SQE seem to be at opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum, I can’t help hoping that sometime in the not so distant future, there can be some type of partnering arrangement between the organizations. Perhaps some joint research on areas where they agree, like literacy, reading in particular.

Endnote: I will be taking a bit of a blogging break in the next little while.

Is McGuinty gov’t “inclusive” with parent advocacy stakeholders?

On the main Government of Ontario web page for the full-day kindergarten, now referred to as the Early Learning Program (ELP for short), you will find the following “principles” listed.

  1. Early development launches children’s trajectories for learning
  2. Partnerships with parents and communities are essential
  3. Respect for diversity, equity and inclusion are prerequisites
  4. A planned program supports early learning
  5. Play is the means to early learning
  6. Knowledgeable and responsive educators are essential

Regarding Item (2) “partnerships with parents and communities are essential,” I would like feedback from Ontario parents and parent advocacy groups to find out if Ontario’s governing Liberal Party practices what it preaches when it comes to “inclusiveness.” Or, is it only inclusive about parents on paper or with those organizations who agree with everything their Cabinet and Minister of Education suggests?  

For example, which parent groups are considered stakeholder groups and asked for advice and which are not? If there is supposed to be respect for communities regarding the ELP, shouldn’t that include all parent advocacy groups? 

Specifically, I frequently read that Annie Kidder of People for Education (P4E) is invited to participate in just about every manner of Ontario education-oriented consultation there is even though P4E clearly is a private, not-for-profit advocacy/lobby type of organization. Moreover, P4E seems to hold a special status, given that they are listed at the bottom of this Ontario government page, in the same category as the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education and the Ontario Federation of Home and Home and School Association.

Yet, apparently, from what I understand, neither Doretta Wilson, the Executive Director of the Society for Quality Education (SQE), also a parent advocacy not-for-profit organization, or its Board Chair, Malkin Dare, have ever been invited to any sort of meaningful consultation regarding Ontario Ministry of Education issues — which seems to me is hardly fair or inclusive.

Perhaps Ms. Kidder from P4E and Ms. Wilson from SQE could start a dialogue here, or members of their respective boards and supporters. I can assure those who do decide to participate here will be treated with respect by me and other commenters, although we may agree to disagree sometimes. However,  I honestly want to know how the current Ontario government makes the decision as to which parent advocacy group can be considered a stakeholder and which can’t — and why they can’t. (H/T Catherine)

While I plan to send an e-mail invitation with this URL via both P4E and SQE’s websites, visitors could also leave a comment on their respective blogs as well.