Perhaps not coincidentally, the president of the Chicago teachers' union (she of video fame) was re-elected (easily) and now Chicago teachers are rattling their sabres again - this time marching to protest plans to close dozens of city schools. I dunno, is it possible that the city's reduced school enrollment (leading to a need to close some schools) could have anything to do with parents pulling their kids from public schools? Why ever would they do that?
SCHOOL FOR THOUGHT
This MACLEANS article highlights some of the problems with Ontario's full-day kindergarten program. They are:
- The impact on the older children at the school, forcing them into larger classes and, in some cases, portable classrooms;
- The effect on three-year-olds of being in a classroom with 18 other three-year-olds;
- Capital costs of an estimated $2.5 billion and annual costs of $1.5 billion;
- Young children's exhaustion at the end of such a long day;
- Questions, based on the experience in other jurisdictions, regarding how long any gains can be expected to last;
- The Drummond Report, which recommended a halt to the roll-out of full-day kindergarten; and
- Concerns about children's behavioural problems that may result from full-day institutional care.
Certainly, the initiative is experimental, as no other jurisdiction has implemented a full-time univeral junior kindergarten program. The Ontario government might have been wiser to start with a pilot program - possibly targeting low-income students - and then compare the children's progress to similar children who weren't offered full-day kindergarten. At present, we know the cost, more or less, but we have no idea of the benefit - meaning we can't do a cost-benefit analysis.
It has been brought to my attention that in Ontario FDK class sizes are not capped, that they can and do reach enrolments of 34-39 children, and that adequate toilets are not being supplied because of cost. In the past every kindergarten room had one or two toilets; now it is only one per every second classroom.
This very watchable video puts a burr under your saddle about all the kids who are being failed by their schools. Here's a short bio of Geoffrey Canada - it's worth reading before you watch the video. YouTube link
In a stunning demonstration of the potential of computer learning, Georgia Tech and Udacity have announced that they will be offering a $7,000 masters degree in computer science to 10,000 students. more. And, lest you think that this will be just another mail-order diploma, in fact Georgia Tech has a very good reputation, especially in computer science, and its graduates tend to get very good jobs and prosper in their careers.
Here is the key paragraph: "Georgia Tech expects to hire only eight or so new instructors even as it takes its master’s program from 300 students to as many as 10,000 within three years".
There is no reason why this kind of course can't be offered to high school students, and possibly even middle school students. The teachers' unions will fight it fiercely, but it's just a matter of time.
I'm surprised Nancy hasn't commented on this story from Newfoundland, whereby trustees in the province's biggest school district are under fire for lavish spending on food and wine. Of course, the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on fancy dinners are just a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the school board bureaucracy.
The more fundamental question is - does the school board do anything individual schools couldn't do for themselves if all that money was carved up and distributed to the board's 119 schools instead? It would mean about $65,000 extra for each school, according to the board's financial statements. I wonder what would happen if the schools were given this choice.... H/T TA
Perhaps you didn't realize that SQE is a force to be reckoned with! This Huffington Post blog (tenth paragraph) lists the most important components of a Canadian conservative infrastructure that holds politicians accountable to right-wing causes. We're not exactly sure why championing the rights of low-income families to get decent schooling for their kids qualifies us as right-wing, but whatever. It's nice to be powerful.
Homeschooling continues to surge, as per this article. Note the first comment, which ends "good ridance (sic) see ya" by our very own Doug/Dean/Joe, followed by great outrage on the part of many many commenters. Doug/Dean/Joe tries to defend himself near the bottom, but only digs himeself in deeper.
This article in the Windsor Star nicely sums up the deafness of education leaders to parents' and students' (read the comments) concerns. Over and over, the users of the education system are complaining that the basics are not being taught properly, and over and over education leaders pooh-pooh their comments (managing to patronize them in the process).
For a glimpse of the way out of this impasse, I suggest you imagine how such a dialogue might go with the principal of a private school.
PARENT: My son isn't learning how to do long division.
PRINCIPAL: Oh, silly you, that's old-fashioned. Everybody uses calculators these days. It's much more important to have higher-order thinking skills.
PARENT: I'd like my money back, please.
PRINCIPAL: Oh, say, would you like me to transfer your son into Mr. Crackerjack's class? He makes sure all his students know how to do long division.
You know how the proponents of expensive initiatives like all-day kindergarten and small class sizes are always going on about these things being an investment that pays off much later in terms of reduced prison and welfare costs? Well, it seems that a much less expensive initiative - school vouchers - have the same effect. The Washington, DC school voucher program yields a benefit of about $2.62 for every dollar spent on the vouchers.
So I guess the proponents of all-day kindergarten and small class sizes will drop their opposition to school vouchers now. Yes?
Michael Coren interviews Bob Bowden about the Toronto teacher who had gay porn in his classroom for seven months, concluding that parents' only recourse is to be able to remove their children from such situations and giving SQE a plug in the process. link