Virtually all children can learn, taught properly, and the same high standards and bright future should be held out to all. H/T TB
SCHOOL FOR THOUGHT
We have just been through a period of teacher strife in Ontario, and a lot of people got the impression that the teachers were using the children as hostages so they could fatten their own pocketbooks. Against this, the teachers' unions argued that it wasn't about money but rather they were standing up for better classroom conditions that would benefit the children.
An interesting new study in the US looked at what impact collective bargaining had on cohorts in the 1970s and 1980s. The study looked at the employment status of students before and after each state's teachers' unions were strengthened by legislation. Although stronger legislation had no effect on the average length of time students stayed in school, it led students to earn $795 less per year and work half an hour less per week at lower-skilled occupations. They were also not-quite-one-percent less likely to be employed.
There are some caveats - it's possible that current bargaining conditions are different in some way from they were a generation ago and there is no explanation of why strengthened bargaining legislation harmed student outcomes. It's possible that it became more difficult for school boards to get rid of bad teachers or perhaps the increased political influence of the teachers' unions interfered with the government's' reform efforts. As usual, more research is indicated.
The study concludes: "In the meantime, however, our evidence points to the conclusion that collective bargaining in public education has been a bad deal for American students".
The attached grammar assignment was sent in by the parent of a Halton Catholic grade 6 child, with the comment that "it’s simply beyond words that the teacher feels this message is OK to give to children".
Dear Aunt Malkin,
Just when I thought we were through the labour strife and disruption at my local school, it has reared its ugly head again. Now the custodians are withdrawing services such as regular bathroom cleaning and garbage pail emptying. The administrative support staff are also joining in the fun, meaning report cards will be delayed and my daughter's Brownie troup can't meet at the school. more What can I do about this?
Signed, Frustrated and Angry
Dear Frustrated and Angry,
If you have the financial means, you can transfer your daughter to a private school. The staff in private schools don't tend to go on strike, since they know what side their bread is buttered on. In the private sector, dissatisfied customers can walk away, and as a result the private school teachers and support staff are well aware that their jobs depend on providing a service that is sufficiently better than the service provided by the public schools to induce parents to pay several thousand dollars every year. Their self-interest prevents them from striking, whereas in the public sector teachers' self-interest induces them to strike.
Your only other option, realistically, is to home-school. I apologize for not offering additional alternatives, but I am not aware of any.
Regards, Aunt Malkin
I stumbled on this newish US blog about education reform, and found many of the postings of interest. The latest one provides a snapshot of the education stances of the top six Republican candidates for president. I was quite impressed by the position of one of them who I hadn't really heard of ere now, namely Marco Rubio.
Click here for a new report on the growth of the charter school movement in the US. Clearly, the movement is getting stronger and better all the time, with the end nowhere yet in sight, and there is no telling what its ultimate effect will be. There can be no doubt that charter schools are a no-cost option that we should have available here in Ontario.
Even though Alberta's minister of education promised to work with a group of Alberta parents to rectify the province's discovery math curriculum, Alberta's education leaders have secretly hired a discovery math proponent to give lectures to Calgary educators. more
It's worth reading the linked-to blog because it clearly shows how powerless parents, teachers, and politicians are against the education leaders' juggernaut.
Here's an update on Toronto's Afri-centric school that was in the news several years ago. It sounds as though the tedious board didn't take Howard Fuller's advice to focus on academics (he said that if the school weren't "mission driven, with quality principal and teachers, clear curriculum, high academic standards, and effective teaching", it would fail. H/T CG
Many people are suspicious of private schools because people think those schools foster religious intolerance and bigotry - preferring public schools where children of all backgrounds rub shoulders together and presumably come to respect each others' viewpoints.
A new study examined the degree of anti-Semitism in adults depending on which type of schooling they had received. The study found, perhaps counter-intuitively, that "private, particularly religious, schools actually appear to encourage more positive attitudes toward Jews".
This reminds me of a story from the days when my own children attended a private religious (Mennonite) school. During one car-pooling gig I happened to mention how wonderful I found the very accepting atmosphere at the school, and one of the kids in the car said it was very easy to be tolerant since there were virtually no students from other religions or ethnicities at the school. As it happens, though, there were all kinds of differences at the school, including oodles of visible minority children and kids from other countries and religions. But I guess they were mostly invisible to the students. Fantastic!
Two weeks ago, Cardus (a Canadian think tank based in Hamilton) convened a group of senior level stakeholders in education from across Canada, representing the public and independent school sectors, to consider this question: Could a warmer climate for school sector diversity improve education in Ontario?
Building on the insights gained at the conference, Cardus has now published a very scholarly and thoughtful paper entitled "Toward a Warmer Climate for Ontario's Private Schools". The paper is only 20 pages long and very well written and insightful, but somehow I suspect that few of our readers will take the time to read the whole thing. For you, here is the Reader's Digest version.
Ontario's stance regarding private schools is the result of the application and addition of ad hoc rules and regulations over many years that have been applied with no thought as to a coherent overall policy, and therefore the need for a serious policy review is urgent. Neither the massive changes that have taken place in Canadian society during the last 30 years or so, nor the education policy changes that have been brought in in the other major Canadian provinces, nor the emergence of "school choice as a burgeoning human rights issue in the US" have been taken into consideration in Ontario.
In fact, Ontario has been heading in precisely the opposite direction from much of the rest of the world when it comes to education - especially when it comes to its policies towards the province's private schools. At present, the climate for the province's private schools is extremely chilly and getting colder all the time - with a large number of handicapping fees and rules having been added over the last 10 or 15 years.
The paper demonstrates that the development of a mutually-respectful partnership between public and private schools would benefit everyone concerned. There are many examples of such a symbiosis in other sectors - for example, non-profit and for-profit bridge clubs that work together towards their mutual goal of promoting the game of bridge - and there is no reason why public and private schools should not be working together towards their mutual goal of providing an excellent education to children.
It is time for Ontario's private schools to be brought in from the cold.