Commentary about important trends that will have an impact on the future of education, training and career development in Ontario

by Robert Kirwan, O.C.T., B.A.(Math), M.A.(Education)
Professional Learning Coach & Director of
The Learning Clinic Education Centre

"PERSPECTIVES ON DEVELOPING TRENDS IN EDUCATION" is one of a series of online publications that are being made available through The Learning Clinic Education Centre. Some of the publications on the site will have been developed by experts from a variety of education, training and career development fields. Others have been designed and developed by Robert Kirwan, who owns and operates The Learning Clinic Education Centre, his private practice as a Professional Learning Coach.

Many of the publications will be supplemented with a variety of other forms of media. Some will include a video component. Some will include an audio component. Most will be available in print online so that you can take time to read the information that is most pertinent to your own situation. The nice thing about an online publication is that you can always share it with your family and friends who may also benefit from the contents.


The Learning Clinic  Presents...
Perspectives On Developing Trends In Education Today 

Fraser Institute Report On Schools Demonstrates The Realities of the Business of Education
The Fraser Institute, one of Canada's leading public policy think-tanks, released its Annual Report Card on Ontario's Elementary Schools 2010 on March 7, 2010. “The report card is the only easily accessible, objective tool that helps parents assess the performance of their child’s school,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

The Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2010 rates 2,742 English and French, public, and Catholic elementary schools from across Ontario based on nine key indicators derived from province wide tests of reading, writing, and mathematics skills administered by the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). A number of private schools are also included.

For more on this story, click here >>>>>

Instant Access To Marks Over The Internet May Lead to A Whole New Way of Reporting Student Evaluation
All parents of high school students with the Rainbow District School Board will be able to get instant access to their child's mid-term and final marks as well as their attendance record over the internet. While this may seem at first like an interesting and innovative use of technology, it may very well be a sign of things to come with respect to reporting student evaluation.

For more on this story, click here>>>>> 

Could A Continuous Online Progress Report Card Be Coming Soon?
The introduction of a "Fall Progress Report Card" which simply reports the progress of a student in all subject areas instead of assigning marks or grades may be the next step in the evolution of teacher - parent communications that will result in the creation of a "Continuous Online Progress Report Card" in the near future.

For more on this story, click here>>>>>

Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Research Reports

As an independent publicly-funded agency, the Council has a mission to work with higher education institutions, the government, and other stakeholders to make Ontario an international leader in higher education.  The Council does so by undertaking research on accessibility, accountability, quality and system design, interpreting that research, disseminating it to the public, and providing evidence-based policy advice to the government.

For Access To Research Publications, click here>>>>



Fraser Institute Report On Schools Demonstrates The Realities of the Business of Education
The Fraser Institute , one of Canada's leading public policy think-tanks, released its Annual Report Card on Ontario's Elementary Schools 2010 on March 7, 2010. “The report card is the only easily accessible, objective tool that helps parents assess the performance of their child’s school,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

The Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2010 rates 2,742 English and French, public, and Catholic elementary schools from across Ontario based on nine key indicators derived from province wide tests of reading, writing, and mathematics skills administered by the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). A number of private schools are also included.

Along with the new Report Card, the Institute also launched a new website  which features easy-to-use interactive tools for comparing the performance of schools included in the report card.

The Report Card applies a special formula to the grade 3 and grade 6 EQAO test results to calculate each school's overall ranking out of 10, which is designed to compare each school in accordance with how much above or below the provincial average of 6 that the school has achieved.

To see how all of the elementary schools in the Greater Sudbury Area school boards, CLICK HERE

The secondary schools report card uses grade 9 and grade 10 EQAO test results to calculate the school's overall rating out of 10

To see how the individual secondary schools fared out CLICK HERE

If you would like the complete Ontario Elementary Schools Report Card in PDF format, CLICK HERE


The popularity of the Fraser Institute Report Card rankings is a clear indication that the general public wants some way of objectively comparing how the schools in their community are performing compared to the rest of the province. As will be quickly pointed out by School Boards which have a large number of schools rated below average, ranking schools effectively is next to impossible considering all of the factors that go into building a school community and providing meaningful learning experiences for the students attending the facility.

Most people understand that merely taking the results of provincial testing and using those numbers to rank a school could be misleading. Many claim that the Fraser Institute Report Card provides what may be a distorted overview of a school's effectiveness. Nevertheless, the rankings do provide something that can compare schools with each other that makes mathematical sense based on what they have to work with. If the EQAO results can be accepted as dependable and accurate reflections of a school's performance, then the Fraser Institute concludes that its rankings merely applies a formula to that data in order to all partners in education to compare.

The competitive nature of society today pretty well demands such a comparison. We all want standings. We want to see who is in first place. We want to see how our school compares to the others.

For example, when ranking the four school boards, the order from top to bottom is:

6.0 / 10
5.5 / 10
4.8 / 10
4.6 / 10


While no one wants to compare our education system to a sporting event, the reality is that there is fierce competition for students among all school boards. Each board is trying to offer programs that will not only meet or exceed the needs of today's children, but they are spending a great deal of money advertising in mass media to draw potential enrolment for programs such as full day kindergarten, day care and French Immersion. New schools are being built while others are being consolidated to accommodate the fluctuating enrolment patterns.

It is clear that when parents are choosing a school for their children, they will take into consideration all of the information they can get their hands on, and the Fraser Institute provides something that is very easy for them to understand.

Unfortunately, no matter how well your schools perform, 50% of them will end up in the "bottom half" of the standings. Therefore, it may be necessary to come up with a better way of comparing schools, if we want to compare them at all. Perhaps it is time to review the whole notion of comparing schools and refocus our attention back onto the students. Some form of testing is necessary in order to evaluate the effectiveness of programming and instruction, but should the test results be used to "label" students? That is a whole other issue.

Instant Access To Marks Over The Internet May Lead to A Whole New Way of Reporting Student Evaluation
The Rainbow District School Board made a significant announcement in February 2010 which on the surface appeared to be a unique experiment in communication, but I would suggest that this is a sign that we are on the verge of a whole new way of reporting student progress. Furthermore, I would respectfully suggest that this new reporting process will lead to an end to the traditional report card system that is now in place and which is better suited to a society that existed long ago.

By September 2010, all secondary schools in the Rainbow District School Board will have in place a system that will allow parents of high school students internet access to their children's mid-term and final marks as well as their attendance record. It is called the Parent Assist Program.

Parents will receive letters containing instructions and passwords that will allow them to access their children's academic information through the Rainbow Board's website. Students over the age of 18 will be given passwords to access this information instead of their parents.

Most students are responsible enough to be counted on to bring their mid-term and final marks home for parents to look at and if any of the parents wish to discuss the results they can always arrange to meet with teachers. Perhaps the most revealing information to be accessed through the Parent Assist Program at this point is the attendance record, which for some students is not very flattering and can explain a lot about the overall results being achieved by students. The key here is that if teachers and administrators are going to be able to post this information on the internet for access by parents, then it must not involve much more technology for other information to be added.

I would hope that the next step in this process is the posting of all "unit test marks" in each subject area so that a "running" tabulation can be kept on each student which will allow one to identify problem areas at any time during the school semester and not just in the middle and at the end. This would allow teachers to provide anecdotal notes and suggestions on strategies for improvement on the site as well. Parents would then be able to communicate with their child's teacher over the internet or by phone so that they are working cooperatively to ensure the success of the student. This seems to be a natural evolution of the system and would provide more than just parents with valuable information. For example, teachers would be able to monitor the progress of their students in other classes and see if some of the comments being made by other teachers were consistent with what they are seeing. It would allow for teachers to discuss ways in which they could work together for the benefit of the student, much in the same manner as two doctors collaborating on the treatment of a common patient.

There are some obvious challenges that must be addressed before professionals feel comfortable about being so openly transparent when it comes to evaluation, but it would seem that there are some real possibilities here as a result of this technology. Think how nice it would be for a child to sit down with his/her parents and review the marks and on-going comments of all teachers. Imagine how much more meaningful education would be to a child if he/she could actually see the "whole picture" as it is developing right from the beginning to the end. And imagine how nice it would be for parents to be able to ask questions and make comments that would be added to the "profile" so that at the end of the year the report contains a summary of everything that has gone on with the child and not just a few grades and averages.

I am confident that this system can be done in a very professional manner which would greatly enhance the communication between home and school. Moreover, I see this as a great way for parents, teachers and students to work together in a very positive manner to help maximize the learning potential of each student.

Could A Continuous Online Progress Report Card Be Coming Soon?
The Ministry of Education will be introducing a new "Fall Progress Report Card" for the 2010 - 2011 school year that is intended to alleviate concerns among educators that two months into the school year was too early to give a formal report card grade to students in the elementary grades. Teachers have always maintained that they have sufficient information to report to parents whether or not their child is making progress in most areas, but there is usually not enough evidence to accurately assign a mark or grade to the student in each of the specific subject areas. Hence, the first term report card marks were often not a very good indication of the progress of a child.

The new report card will still indicate the progress of a student in the same subject areas as found on the current report card, but instead of assigning a grade or mark, it will indicate how a student is progressing with the following terms:

(1) Progressing With Difficulty, 
(2) Progressing Well, or 
(3) Progressing Very Well.

The Fall Progress Report Card is mandatory and will still count towards the student's overall assessment. This means that it will become part of the OSR file for the student just as with other report cards. In addition, it will still be the essential guide when it comes to the fall parent-teacher interview.

The Fall Progress Report Card is the result from testing that was done in pilot projects in 60 schools and nine school boards.

One of the most positive features of the fall progress report card is that it will place a strong emphasis on the development of learning skills and work habits. Students' achievement of six learning skills and habits will be shown on the front page of the progress report card. These are: 

(1) Responsibility, 
(2) Organization, 
(3) Independent Work, 
(4) Collaboration, 
(5) Initiative, and 
(6) Self-Regulation. 

The development of these skills and habits will be reported as "excellent", "good", "satisfactory" or "needs improvement". In addition, sufficient space will be provided for teacher comments about the particular strengths of the student in each of those six areas and in areas for improvement. This part of the report card will turn out to be a very meaningful section and will allow teachers to provide some very specific suggestions for the parent. It is clear to see that the Fall Progress Report Card will be a significant element of the fall interviews. Much of the interview will be conducted from the report card comments.


There are three formal reporting periods at the elementary school level. Nevertheless, it is Ministry and Board policy that communication with parents and students about student achievement should be continuous from the beginning to the end of school. We have three "report cards", but interviews, phone calls, notes home and special meetings are all part of the process. There are even some schools that send out interim progress report cards. 

I would suggest that that the implementation of the "Fall Progress Report Card" is simply the "interim" step to adopting the use of the internet to provide parents with instant access to an on-going, continuous progress report which would allow for two-way communication between the parent and the teacher. For example, it wouldn't take much to find a software program which would allow a teacher to continuously input a student's "online report" to reflect changes in progress. It could even include a running record of tests and assignments along with their marks so that parents could monitor the progress from home on their own computer. Teachers would be able to constantly add comments that would identify strengths and weaknesses in all areas throughout the school year. 

The beauty of a "Continuous Progress Report Card" is that it would simply be a place which would demonstrate the existing assessment of students that is already being done throughout the course of the year. However, instead of going through the mad scramble of making sure there are enough marks to prepare formal report cards in order to meet deadlines, teachers will be able to conduct their classes in accordance with the needs of their students. As evaluations are done during the year they will be posted on the student profiles and a running average will be available for viewing at any time. Teachers will be able to review the "report" of each child during the month to update the records and add necessary comments to explain the progress or lack thereof. Emails will be able to keep parents up-to-date with the progress report so that they are kept informed and can become more involved in the education of their children.

This "Continuous Progress Report Card" won't involve any more work for teachers, but it will certainly alleviate the stress that occurs three times a year to get report cards out to parents. Each time you look at the "Continuous" report you will be seeing what your child's report card would look like if it were printed at that time. You would also be able to review the "historical" development of your child and have access to previous marks and comments.

The secondary schools are already moving in this direction ( Instant Access To Marks Over The Internet May Lead to A Whole New Way of Reporting Student Evaluation ). It is only a matter of time before we see the internet used to improve the reporting process at the elementary school level.

Many Baby Boomers Looking To Golden Years For Personal Fulfillment In New Careers
Many people who are entering their "retirement years" are finding that you can only play so many rounds of golf and fix so many things around the house before you are left wondering, "Is this what I really wanted?"

As a result, we are seeing a huge number of "older people" entering the workforce in a wide variety of careers where they are now finding tremendous personal fulfillment. This is especially true of people who may have worked for many years in a stress filled occupation simply because of the fact that it provided an excellent salary, good benefits and was stable. Now that the children have all left home, it is time to spend some time in a career that focuses on passions that they may have had all of their life, but for which it was just too irresponsible to give up the security of their "real job".

You find people who were extremely powerful in the business world taking on executive director roles in volunteer organizations and "loving every minute". Further, since most of the retirees have some sort of pension income to provide financial support, they find that the money isn't the most important part of their new job. It is a way of achieving tremendous personal satisfaction. It is like starting all over again with the energy and passion of a 25 year-old in a 60 year-old body.

As the baby boomers continue to age into retirement, don't be surprised if the anticipated "job market" remains fairly tight. You may also be surprised to find some corporate executives working as retail clerks on the floor of department stores or home building companies simply because for all of the years they remained on top of the corporate ladder they were denied the opportunity to "get down to street level" and work directly with the customer. They would gladly work for nothing, but will take minimum wages which when placed on top of their pension income create a better standard of living for them and their families.

What's even more important is that most businesses and retail owners are happy to hire a person in their 50's or 60's. As one business owner stated, "When you hire an older worker you don't need to worry about whether or not she is going to be here on time, or if she knows how to treat customers with respect, or if she is going to quit without warning to find another job that pays 10 cents an hour more. With older workers you have very stable, happy employees who appreciate their chance to work with the public.

You can expect to see this trend continue in the future.


    The Shift From Success To Significance By Baby Boomers Will Have A Huge Impact On Career Scene

   I receive a number of online newsletters through email every week. One I always take time to read comes from a man named Michael Josephson who operates a web site called “Character Counts”. He recently sent out a commentary about something that was written by Peter Drucker, a management consultant from the United States .
   Drucker pointed out that as highly accomplished people get older, they often feel a need to measure their lives more in terms of the impact they have rather than by what they have.  Let me repeat that last sentence. “As highly accomplished people get older, they often feel a need to measure their lives more in terms of the impact they have rather than by what they have.”
  Drucker calls this the shift from “success to significance” and explains that. “Success is achieving your goals; significance is having a lasting positive impact on the lives of others.”
   Drucker stated that for some, particularly those people who have accumulated enormous amounts of money and worldly possessions, “This desire to be significant is just another form of vanity or yearning to achieve a kind of immortality through good deeds long remembered. For others, it’s simply a desire to live a worthy life.”
   “Whatever the reason, when people begin to think more deeply about significance, they tend to place greater emphasis on enjoying what they already have and enriching their lives through service to others,” he went on. “The irony is that living a life focused on the pursuit of significance is much more personally gratifying than one devoted to climbing the ladder of success. As author Stephen Covey warns, it’s no good climbing to the top of a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong wall.”
   Many people, especially baby boomers, are approaching the age of retirement and they are asking themselves some very serious questions about life. In fact, in one recent survey, 80% of baby boomers indicated that they expect to continue working past the age of 65. Some are going to do so because they are afraid of running out of money now that they are living longer and the cost of living continues to rise, but many say that they do not want to spend the rest of their life laying around waiting to die. They are feeling the shift from success to significance and want to remain engaged in life. They want to do something meaningful with their life and many of them are finding that the skills they developed during their working years are very much in demand now.
   I personally know an awful lot of people living in the City of
Greater Sudbury who have achieved a huge amount of success during their lifetime. Many of these people are now reaching the age when they will feel the call to shift from “success to significance”. The opportunities for these people to do positive things for the community will be tremendous during the next decade.
   I see many examples of this shift from “success to significance” occurring every day. I see people who have worked in a career their entire life and who are now volunteering for a number of service organizations and giving of their time and money to help others. I see successful business people going out of their way to help the less fortunate, demonstrating that it is important to give back to the community. I see struggling families who still have time to help out others who are struggling even more than they are. I see young and old alike volunteering to organize recreational activities that are affordable and yet still allow people to spend time with their family, friends and neighbours.
   I also see many people who still want to work when they hit retirement age, but they don’t want to be in the “rat race”. They want flexibility and they want to work on their own terms. This means that they are available to work on a part-time basis and when needed, which suits many companies in the marketplace today that have are turning to “outsourcing” as a way of meeting their needs. It is not uncommon to see former company managers working on the floor in a hardware store helping younger customers find solutions to their problems. This low-stress employment keeps the older worker active and contributing in a meaningful way to the economy.



The Theory of Continuity Poses The Question: What’s Next?
   Most people over the age of 40 will experience this “change in philosophy of life” as they approach retirement age, and in some careers, with retirement coming in their early 50’s, this shift will be something that is even stronger. As those of us in this demographic face our own mortality we continue to ask the question: “What are we going to do with the time that’s left?” This is being referred to as the “Theory of Continuity” where you stop looking at the end of a particular career as a time to sit back and wait to die, but rather as a time to look to what you will be doing next. Since most people living today can expect to be healthy and vibrant well into their late 70’s and 80’s, there is still a whole lot of living left during one’s normal retirement years.
   And while the baby boomers are changing the way we look at retirement, there are tremendous implications for the younger generation currently in secondary and post-secondary schools and for those who are just beginning in their own desired careers.
   For years we have been telling young people that the job market will open up as baby boomers hit retirement age. Now that the baby boomers are arriving at this place in their life, they are about to change the entire way we look at retirement. Many of them are financially secure and can now look at employment as a way of finding fulfillment and making a positive contribution in ways that perhaps they always wanted but were unable to because of other commitments. This shift is going to have a remarkable affect on career planning for our youth and is something that will have to be addressed by our education institutions.
   Imagine what it will be like for business owners who are facing the prospect of hiring a new graduate from college who has absolutely no experience, is expecting to receive a high starting salary, and despite all of the time and money you invest in training him, is likely to leave you the moment he finds something better. On the other hand, this same business owner could outsource the work to one or two baby boomers who already come with decades of experience, are willing to work “on demand” whenever the owner needs them, during any time of the day, for a much lower salary, and since they are at a stage in life when they have no desire to move away from their current home, will likely be available for as long as the business owner needs them. Who do you think is going to get the job?
   When you speak with people from the baby boom generation you will find some common paths to happiness. Many of us indicate that that as we get older we discover that the secret to life comes from living in the moment, making the people you love a higher priority, and understanding that happiness comes from the inside, and not from material possessions. We find that no matter at what age we are right now, when we look back over the path we have followed it is what we “gave to the world, not what we took from the world” that gave us the most satisfaction. Now that we are more financially secure and do not have the pressures that we faced while raising families and meeting our responsibilities to our former careers we can spend the rest of our days in more meaningful activities doing what we always wanted to do.
   In many ways, life is just beginning for people in their 50’s and 60’s. It is as if you are entering a second adulthood with all of the advantages of the life experiences you have gained during the first 50 years. Many of us have often said that if we only knew when we were younger what we know now, we may have done things differently. Well, the reality is that most baby boomers still have a good 25 to 30 years of good productivity left inside them. I know many people in their late 70’s who are still going strong and still making tremendous contributions to society.
   And so, here I am at the age of 57, “retired” from teaching for the past six years: the writer for The Vision Paper; the director of public relations for a shopping centre; publisher of a community web site; one year into the creation of a tutoring agency; two weeks into a new venture as a radio host; “working” seven days a week; and my wife and I still have time to enjoy our granddaughters, our children and our leisure activities together. If you had told me that this is where my life would be when I was 25 years old I never would have believed you. I can’t wait to see what my life will be like a year from now, but I do know one thing – whatever it is that I am doing, it is going to be my choice and it is going to make me happy.  


Federal Report Warns That Canada Is Training Too Few Workers To Compete Globally

"Canada is training too few workers — from plumbers to PhDs — for today's smart economy and, unless we set a national plan for higher education, other countries are going to "eat our lunch," warns a federal report released in December 2006.

Without a coast-to-coast blueprint for higher learning with sharp goals for quality, affordability and access, Canada will be left behind by economies on nearly every other continent, says this country's first national overview of post-secondary education, by the Canadian Council on Learning, an independent research body created this year.

"When a hockey team is falling in the standings, you need to know what to fix — the goaltending? Checking? Forwards? We need to start tracking post-secondary education on a national level so we can figure out what needs to be done to improve," said council president Paul Cappon.

While the United States, the , Australia and the European Union have been busy setting targets for better post-secondary funding, graduation rates, class size, library holdings and teaching credentials, Cappon says Canada has neglected to set any national vision for post-secondary education and is now "out of sync with 21st-century reality.

"The status quo is not an option; we produce fewer PhDs than the average among countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and we're near the bottom for producing graduates in science and engineering," he said in an interview.

While 70 per cent of new jobs are expected to require some level of higher learning, he noted roughly 44 per cent of Canadians have this much formal schooling.

The writing is on the wall for policy makers when it comes to post-secondary education for people living in Canada. More must be done to ensure that our children are receiving adequate training that will equip them for work in the 21st century.


New Organizational Model May Be Needed to Comply With Provincial Class Size Requirements
Two very distinct school boards in the province are causing concern within the Ministry of Education and may in fact be the tipping point to the launch of a new school organizational model.
   The Ministry of Education has appointed an advisor to work with the Sudbury Catholic District School Board in order to help the board reduce the size of its primary classes which apparently are the largest in the province.
   A Ministry spokesperson Patricia MacNeil, has announced that Wayne Burtnyk will not only help the board lower its class sizes, he will also examine the board’s entire operation in order to come up with ways of making the board more financially viable. The board has been forced to withdraw almost $3 million out of its reserves to balance the books for the past two budget years.
   The Ministry’s concern stems from the fact that the Sudbury Catholic District School Board is the worst in the province in terms of meeting the Ministry goal of having at least 90 percent of the primary classrooms in the province with 20 students or less and none more than 23 students. Just 65 percent of the Catholic School Board’s primary classrooms from JK to Grade 3 are meeting the Ministry requirement with 4 percent of the classrooms having more than 23 students.
   Interesting enough, a little more than four hundred kilometers to the south, the Toronto District School Board has the second worst primary class size record, with 77 per cent of classrooms under the 20-student mark and two per cent surpassing the 23-student mark.
   The Sudbury Catholic District School Board indicates that there are several problems associated with running a school board in
Northeastern Ontario . Rural community schools with low enrolments, dual track French immersion schools, and special education needs make it difficult to control class sizes and balance a budget on the current level of funding.
   What is surprising to some is that the second worst board in the province is one of the largest school boards in one of the most densely populated regions of the country. One would expect a world of difference between
Sudbury and Toronto , however, when you get down to the root of the problem, it makes perfect sense to talk about these two seemingly different situations in the same breath.
   Understand that this is not merely a financial issue. There is no quick fix in either of these two school boards and there are dozens of other school boards in the province that will find themselves in similar circumstances in the near future.
   This is a problem that may only be solved through the creation of a completely new delivery model for small and rural area schools. For example, whether you are a parent living in a subdivision in downtown
Toronto , or you are living in the little Town of Killarney , when it comes to the education of your primary and junior grade level children, you have two similar priorities. You want your children to get the best education available and you want them to attend a school that is contained within your immediate community close to home.
   Unfortunately, these two goals are often conflicting within our current system. Changing population patterns in certain geographical pockets of the province are creating situations where there are not enough students to make it feasible to keep a community school open. This means that in order to provide children with a good education and to be fiscally responsible to the board as a whole, some smaller schools must be closed and children bussed to a larger school in a neighbouring community or subdivision. This may at times require a bus ride of up to an hour or more to get and from school. The only difference between
Sudbury and Toronto is the total distance traveled. The time on the bus, which is the most critical element, may be almost the same in either situation. Regardless of where you live, the closing of your community school can be extremely upsetting not only to your children but to your entire family and way of life.
   What is happening in the Sudbury Catholic District School Board and the Toronto District School Board may very well result in the creation of a “unified school model” that can be used in small and rural schools in order to make them viable from both a financial and pedagogical point of view. In other words, we may soon see all four school systems operating under one roof in certain areas of the province in order to allow children living in these affected areas to continue to receive their primary and junior grade education close to home, in their community or neighbourhood school.
   In order for this to happen, all of the boards and the parents involved will have to agree that the most important consideration for young children is the development of solid learning skills that will enable them to be successful in later grades. Religious and language preferences may have to be put aside for a while in order to allow for the mixing of all Grade one students from the area into the same class in one building instead of splitting them into four distinct schools that must all fight for their very survival. This does not mean that children will be denied their right to the type of education they desire, it just means that they will have one teacher providing a program that is adapted to the needs of everyone in the classroom. With creative planning and organization it will still be possible to develop the desired learning skills and still be able to achieve the most important expectations with respect to language and religious development. The delivery model may have to be different from that to which we are accustomed, and it may require some flexibility with respect to enrolment, budget and collective agreement matters, but it can be done.
   Listen closely to the concerns expressed by parents when they attend school board accommodation review meetings. The biggest complaints are that parents want to keep the local school open in their community and they do not want their children to have to travel great distances by bus to attend another school. These two concerns can easily be addressed with the creation of a new school model which would allow all of the students to attend one school together in mixed classes. This would satisfy the desire of parents and municipal leaders to keep a school open in their community. Students would be able to receive their education up to the end of Grade six within their community school and then be shipped off to their respective school board’s closest school when they hit Grade seven.
   The Ministry of Education advisor may find that there is not much more that can be done by the administrators and trustees in
Sudbury or Toronto . This is simply the way it is and the way it will continue until a new model has been created and accepted by all parties to address the situation. Perhaps it is significant that Sudbury and Toronto have been the two Cities to bring this issue to the “tipping point”.
   Until next time, this is Inside Education…..


Africentric Alternative School Debate In Toronto May Lead To A New Organizational Model For High Schools
    The Toronto District School Board has decided to open at least one Africentric school under its jurisdiction in time for the 2009-2010 school year. The decision has generated a great deal of debate in that city with critics citing that the policy will promote segregation. Supporters point out that attendance at the school will be voluntary and will be open to students of all races.
   In fact, the only difference between an
Africentric School and other schools in the system is that it will enhance the Ontario curriculum with Africentric materials and content that better reflects the heritage of people of African descent. The whole purpose is to re-integrate disengaged kids back into public schooling.  Such a school would be a first for Ontario , although there are some in the United States in cities such as Detroit , Washington and Kansas City .
   Advocates of the system claim that black students who study about black authors, scientists and thinkers, have more black teachers as role models, and attend schools that set clear, high expectations for black students can fight the alienation some black teens say leads them to drop out of mainstream schools. They say that with so many people now living in the Toronto region from the Islands or from Africa, this would come close to the education system they had back "home" which included the use of mentors from the community who became role models and supported them through their formal school studies.
   Creating a school which addresses the needs of a specific group of students is not a new concept. The
Toronto board already has a grade school and high school for First Nations students and an alternative high school for gay and lesbian teens. 
   We don't have to go very far to find other examples of "alternative schools". In The City of Greater Sudbury we have some very obvious alternative schools currently in place. Marymount Academy is an all-girls school that covers grades 7 to 12; Sudbury Secondary School has long been recognized as the school for students with a special interest in the creative arts, dance and drama; Lockerby Composite School is known as a school for students with an interest in advanced technology; Loellen is a school that is noted for it's Baccalaureate Program with a high academic focus; in addition, we can’t forget the French Language schools and the Catholic schools. 
   In each of the above examples the "school-culture" has an atmosphere and a basic philosophy that emphasizes the distinct nature of their student body. Even teachers at those schools must be prepared to demonstrate a passion for the distinct specialty of the school in order to be good "role models" for their students. Students attend these schools for more than just the normal academic benefits. They are also looking for experiences that fuel their own particular passions and interest – passions and interests that many of them hope to pursue beyond high school.
   It is important to note that most alternative schools which have a special focus are open to all students. The exceptions obviously being single-gender or French language schools. The
Ontario curriculum is covered in all schools and the courses must prepare students for whatever post-secondary path they wish to follow. The only difference is that there is a special “character or identity” to the school and it is a place where students with appropriate special interests will be allowed to blossom.
   We must never lose site of the fact that underachieving students and high dropout rates are a literacy problem, not a racial or a language one. It is estimated that over 25% of Canadians lack the literacy skills needed for daily living. Furthermore, low literacy rates affect all cultures and socio-economic classes and are not due to low intelligence.
   Low literacy may actually be a result of a school system that is not “engaging” students in ways that help them relate learning to their own cultural experiences or personal preferences. In other words, we must find better ways of motivating students so that they want to learn. Alternative schools may be the answer and the Toronto District School Board must be given credit for bringing this matter out into the open.
   It has always been my personal belief that every child has the ability to learn, some just learn differently. It has also long been held by most people that higher literacy levels will improve society, lower dropout rates, reduce crime and make communities stronger. If we can increase literacy levels among our children by creating “alternative schools” which are more in tune to the interests and passions of specific groups of students from different cultural backgrounds, then it is something we should examine more closely.
   The debate in
Toronto may soon result in an organizational model where we create schools, or classes within schools, designed specifically for students who are interested in computer games; in the outdoors; in fitness; in hockey; in soccer; in medicine; in animals; in math; in writing; the list goes on and on. Bringing students together in an environment where they can study and work with other students who share common interests or passions may be all that is needed to generate the excitement in learning and help students achieve their full potential. Up until now, we have been grouping students in accordance with their academic abilities. Perhaps it is time to remember that “if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got.” If we are not totally happy with what we are getting out of our education system today, then perhaps it is time to do things differently.
   There are obviously some organizational challenges that must be addressed before this model can be implemented, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the first steps to making it happen.
   Until the next time, this is Inside Education…..


A New Organizational Model For Elementary & Secondary Schools

It would appear as if most of the students of the Walden area who are enrolled in the Rainbow District School Board will soon be experiencing what could be a new organizational model for elementary and secondary schools in the province.  

   Board administration has recommended that three elementary schools in Walden be closed and that students be consolidated into a new, much larger school for JK to Grade 6 while all of the Grade 7’s and 8’s would be housed at Lively District Secondary School with the Grade 9 to 12’s.
   We are only just beginning to see the effects of a new trend in school organization in this part of the province, but it should be clear that what is being proposed in Walden is inevitable if our school system is going to be in a position to better prepare young people with the skills necessary to become successful contributors to society in the future. The model is working quite well at
Marymount Academy and there are already other schools in the area where elementary and secondary school students share the same building.
   The only way schools of the future are going to be able to adequately fulfill their responsibilities is by organizing students in a way which is more conducive to the development of the learning skills necessary for the 21st century. And when you examine the needs of our children, it makes far more sense to offer education in two distinct settings.
   Children have one set of needs as they move from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6, and they have a completely different set of needs as they move from Grade 7 to Grade 12. Therefore, the sooner we can move all students from Grades 7 to 12 under one roof, the better. And, unfortunately, that may mean that it is necessary to close some of the smaller elementary schools and build larger, more central ones to accommodate the enrolment from JK to Grade 6.


   First of all, quality of education is directly related to the competency of the teachers who are actually working with the children. It doesn’t matter where your son or daughter goes to school. It is the classroom teacher who is going to make the greatest difference in the growth of your child.
   Larger, newer schools tend to have the most up-to-date facilities and supplies which assist teachers in providing for the needs of their students.

   The larger the school, the less likely it is that you are going to have a lot of split grades and the more likely it is that students will be organized in a way that is more conducive to meeting their individual needs.

   Larger schools provide principals with a wider selection of staff who may be qualified to provide for the special needs of all students in all grade levels.

   You can therefore do a lot more with your students in a large school setting. Small schools served their purposes when they were first built, but times have changed and we must have the resources to prepare our children for the world of today and tomorrow, not the world we were accustomed to yesterday.

   Secondly, we know that there is going to be a critical need in the workplace for more graduates with skills in the trades areas and the cost of outfitting schools to give young people exposure to this training is enormous. Most secondary schools already have the equipment necessary for the delivery of these specialized programs.

   For example,
the Liberal government announced in January 2008 that they are about to spend $150 million over the next several years to improve education for students in Grades 4 to 8 by introducing programs such as outdoor education, home economics and shop. It is easy to implement outdoor education programs at any level, but when it comes to home economics and shop, the $150 million won’t even come close to equipping our elementary schools with those facilities. However, moving Grades 7 and 8 into secondary school buildings where those shops and home economics facilities already exist makes much more sense.  The province is also considering starting co-op programs for Grades 7 and 8 so it would make more sense to move them to secondary schools where those programs are already in place.
   Education Minister Kathleen Wynne stated “We know that if we're going to be successful in getting more kids through high school and going on to post-secondary or into apprenticeships, they must be fully engaged by the time they get into Grade 9. It's way too late if we wait until Grade 9." 

   It is perfectly clear that the period from Grade 7 through 12 is the time when one discovers his/her true passion for life and when natural talents and aptitudes begin to blossom. The more exposure to a wider variety of options we can provide students from the beginning of Grade 7 right through to graduation at the end of Grade 12, the better.
   This re-organization would even benefit the “Grade 7, 8, 9 Transitions Program” which is intended to help students make the transition from elementary to secondary school.
   By gathering everyone under the same roof during the six years from Grades 7 to 12, we are better able to offer children a chance to explore the skilled trades, the arts, information technology and all of the other possible paths they can follow. We can also offer them a whole new way of learning and get them involved in positive school based and community based activities that will prepare them take their place in society. Participation in extracurricular sports and activities would be encouraged within a secondary school setting since there are usually so many more things going on at this level than in the elementary schools.
   Critics of the new school organization model state that they do not like the fact that their Grade 7 and 8 children may be exposed to the sex, drugs and violence that is often associated with high schools. However, when you speak to parents of Kindergarten and Grade one students they are quite happy with the prospect of removing the Grade 7’s and 8’s from the elementary school settings because of the negative influence those older children have on the younger, more impressionable primary grade children.
   However, despite all of our fears and concerns, we must remember that schools are only a “means to an end” for our children. Students are not going to remain in their current schools forever and in this day and age it is quite common for children to be uprooted from their school for other reasons emanating from changes in the lives of their parents. Seldom will you find a Grade 6 class today where all of the students have been together in the same school since JK.
   Therefore, if schools are truly a “means to an end”, and if most of the older, smaller schools were built to accommodate the baby boomers who grew up in a different era, then consolidating children into larger, better equipped buildings for JK to Grade 6 and into secondary school buildings for Grade 7 to Grade 12 is something that we simply must consider and move forward with as soon as possible. The children entering school today have a completely different set of needs than the children of yesterday.  We are simply going to have to adjust and get used to it. This is the way it is going to be. Let’s make it work.


New School Model May Satisfy Parents In Rural Areas
  Parents of a public elementary school in Warren are facing a serious problem with respect to the continuing education of their young children. The problem is that their English Language public school is too small to remain open. It only has 16 students and this is clearly not enough to provide an adequate instructional program for students. The Rainbow District School Board wants to close the school in Warren and bus the children to a larger school in nearby Markstay.
                Many parents are concerned that some students in rural regions already travel 40 minutes on a bus and will have to be on the bus another 40 minutes to get to Markstay. This means that primary school children will be on the bus for as long as 80 minutes in the morning and another 80 minutes in the afternoon, just to get back and forth to school. They may also have to transfer to different busses to complete the trip. That is an unacceptable situation for any young primary or junior grade children.
                A solution seems to be available, but it may result in the creation of a whole new type of “school model” that is inevitable if we are to solve problems in the future that are similar in nature to that being experienced in Warren.
                It would appear as if one school that provided instruction to all students in English and/or French would solve the problem. In other words, all students from the Warren area would all attend one school where the elementary school curriculum would be taught to them in either English or French, regardless of religion or school board affiliation. Students who wished to be provided instruction in English would be taught in English classes which would be a mix of public and Catholic students. Likewise for those wishing instruction in the French language. Split grades in this case would mean Public/Catholic or English/French and would result in teachers providing grouping within their classrooms accordingly.
                The Rainbow District School Board is experiencing the same problem with another school in the Walden area. R.H. Murray Public School in Whitefish, with an enrolment of about 100 students is being considered for closure while the students would be bussed to a new, larger elementary school to be built in Lively. Some of the students would be facing bus rides in excess of one hour under the move. Parents there are also upset and are doing everything possible to keep their school open.
                This may be more of a Northern or small rural school problem, but it is a solution that may be forced upon school boards unless they find a way of cooperating with each other. Parents are not going to accept bus rides of an hour or more for their young children – nor should they be expected to. Especially not when there are perfectly good buildings with space available within their local community. For these parents, the proximity of the school is more important than any school system affiliation. In other words, at this point they are not worried about whether their children attend a public or catholic system, nor are some of them worried about the English or French. They want a quality education for their children without having to subject them to up to three hours on a bus.
                Some sort of compromise should be considered by the Ministry of Education and the school boards for these types of situations. It should be possible to come up with a school model that would allow for the combining of all four school board systems under one roof. The funding model can be structured so that none of the existing four school boards need pay any extra money for keeping the school open and when it comes to administration and additional funding, such schools can be treated as separate entities by the province. A cooperative approach could be developed by the four school boards to accommodate the needs of the children and parents until students are ready to be bussed to larger, distant schools for the higher intermediate and secondary school grades.
                A solution along this line would allow parents living in areas served by Warren schools and those served by R.H. Murray in Walden, to keep their children closer to home during the important six to eight years of education from JK to Grade 6. Quality of education does not just mean what goes on inside the walls of a school building. It includes the traveling to get to the school and in most parent’s opinion, if you have to spend over 40 minutes on a bus; you have already diminished any quality of education you may receive in the classroom.  



Toronto School Will Experiment With Starting School Day Later In The Morning
In an effort to improve student success, the Toronto District School Board is considering allowing classes to begin later on in the morning to give students more time to sleep. While it has raised many eyebrows, the concept is also being considered for its potential benefits.

This is not a new concept since in the US, school districts in 19 states have implemented later start times.

The suggestion is the result of research on the adolescent brain that indicates the morning is not an optimal time for learning.

"School times are set for the convenience of parents and teachers, not students," said Dr. Colin Shapiro of the University of Toronto , a sleep expert at the Youthdale Child and Adolescent Clinic. "It's not that high school students are lazy. During the teen years, the chemical responsible for sleepiness is secreted later at night and turns off later in the morning, leading to a "sleep phase delay."

It is estimated that 70% of all high school students fail to get a proper amount of sleep at night. There are many reasons for this, such as the fact that many of them have part-time jobs, or evening activities that keep them away from home until later in the evening. Then they have to tackle their homework and answer their phone and email messages. The result is that many of today's secondary school students don't get to bed until after midnight and then must get up again as early as 6 a.m. to catch a bus and start the cycle all over again.

Some students have indicated that it doesn't matter how much sleep you get, "Morning classes will always be a drag."

While it would certainly allow students to get a good breakfast and arrive at school for class at around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., critics of the plan cite that the move would be a disaster for extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, traffic tie-ups during rush hour in the city, and staffing. Others say that the late start would keep students at school until their parents get home from work which would keep them out of trouble during the prime-time after school.

This is one of those ideas that is so "out of the box" that many people will oppose it simply because it is new. However, there is merit to examining the possibility of "adjusting the school day" to improve student success.

For example, one consideration would be to add two periods at the end of the day. This would give students six full periods where classes could be scheduled. Students would be able to schedule classes to begin early and finish early (i.e. during the first four periods), or to begin late and finish late (i.e. during the last four periods). Thus, they could select the class schedule that best suits their particular life-style. Alternatively, it would allow students to schedule free periods during the day in order to participate in school intramurals or receive tutoring help in difficult subjects. It would also allow students to take more courses in order to upgrade their qualifications for post-secondary school or to make up for failed courses.

Regardless of what is done in Toronto, now that the idea has been "floated" out there for consideration it is something that will continue to come up. There will be more demand in the future for the school system to be more flexible to the needs of students, and so the sooner we come up with a solution that will be practical, the better.


Single-gender Classrooms May Be Just Around The Corner
More than 1700 girls and boys in South Carolina took part in a recent survey conducted by that State’s Department of Education. The students were from Grades 2 through 9 in over thirty schools. What is interesting about the survey is that all of the students were receiving their education in single-gender classrooms and the results may surprise you.
   No less than 75% of the students agreed that the single-gender approach was helping them in school. They said that being in a classroom of all boys or all girls has increased their confidence, class participation, desire to succeed in school and their report card marks.
  State Superintendent of Education, Jim Rex stated, “More and more
South Carolina parents are choosing this option whenever and wherever it’s made available.” Indeed, more than 150 South Carolina public schools are expected to offer the single-gender option to parents in September 2009.
   The results of the survey and the tremendous endorsement of both parents and students could be an indication that we may begin to see this option being made available in
Ontario as well. It is at least worthy of consideration as a way of perhaps improving the problems inherent in our system today in terms of classroom management and motivation of students.
Marymount Academy is currently the only publicly funded single-gender “school” in the Greater Sudbury Area.  The school is operated by the Sudbury District Catholic School Board and offers programs exclusively to girls from Grades 7 through 12. If you were to take a survey at Marymount you would discover an overwhelming support of the single-gender approach from students, teachers and parents alike. Most would cite the same reasons as noted by the South Carolina students for their endorsement.
   It is a bit surprising that with all of the efforts being made to improve the quality of education being provided in our
Ontario schools the single-gender approach has been largely ignored as a viable option. And yet it makes perfect sense for at least one particular cluster of grade levels, especially since we are witnessing the growing acceptance of another trend in school organization across the province today.
   The trend to which I refer is the policy being adopted by many school boards to place Grade 7’s and 8’s into secondary school settings. This trend is showing no signs of slowing down, and in fact a number of the local secondary schools in the area have already made the move. 

   This will result in two distinct school organizational models which are more appropriate to the way children learn. Elementary schools will consist of JK – Grade 6 and Secondary schools will include Grade 7 to 12. This new organizational model makes perfect sense in light of the priorities we have in our schools today. It is also in line with the major move across the province to offer more courses in the skilled trade areas to our intermediate grade level students in order to encourage more or them to consider careers in the trades.
   Once we have shifted the Grade 7 and 8 students into the high school setting, the next logical move may be to introduce the single-gender approach, especially since it is receiving such positive results in the United States and even right here in Sudbury.
   The most appropriate situation would see single-gender classes offered from Grades 7 through 10. These are the most volatile years for adolescents when hormones have a tendency to get in the way of learning and when curriculum content begins to become more and more important.
   By organizing the students into single-gender classes, we would remove one of the major distractions which has become such a barrier to learning. There would be no more “game-playing” and “posturing” in class. Students could get right down to the business of learning the all-important curriculum in Grades 7 to 10. It is during these four critical years that students must be allowed every opportunity to discover their academic strengths and passions. This is the time for them to lay the foundations for Grades 11 and 12 as they prepare to make the transition from secondary school to university or college. Once they get into Grades 11 and 12 students can once again be placed in mixed-gender classes. By this time they will have established their goals and objectives and will be able to focus on what they must do to get ready for life after high school.
   Elementary schools, which are often smaller in size, would present much more of a challenge when it comes to offering single-gender classes. There just may not be enough students in each grade to allow for a suitable split of the boys and girls, but the need for single-gender classes is not as great at the elementary school level. Up until the end of Grade 6 it doesn’t make much difference whether you have boys and girls together in classes. Moreover, the focus is more on the development of learning skills and attitudes up until the end of Grade 6. In Grade 7 the priorities begin to shift towards curriculum content as students use their “learning skills” to acquire new knowledge in a number of different areas.
   Within the next couple of years it is quite likely that we will see one or two local secondary schools offer the single-gender classes as an option for Grades 7 to 10. Predictably, the interest among parents and students will likely be tremendous and registrations for these classes may go through the roof. Once school board administrators realize the level of support from the public for this organizational model we may see other schools naturally follow the lead.
   The move towards single-gender classes would be very easy to implement. For example, if you have four Grade nine classes at a secondary school now, with approximately half of each class consisting of boys and the other half girls, then you will end up with two Grade nine classes of girls and two Grade nine classes of boys. The curriculum will be the same. The expectations will be the same. The exams will be the same. The only difference will be that two of the classes will be able to deal with the curriculum from a female perspective, while the other classes will deal with the curriculum from a male perspective. There will be “no games”. There will be no “pressure” to impress the opposite sex. Those games and pressures will be left for the interaction of students in between classes and after school where they belong. Classroom management will improve; participation levels will improve; self-confidence among students will improve; and all students will have an opportunity to succeed without fear of intimidation from the opposite sex.
   Until next time, this is Inside Education…..


York Region District School Board Attempts To Compete With Private Tutoring Industry
During the 2007-2008 school year, the York Region District School Board has implemented a new after-school program that is likely to be the beginning of a wave of similar action by school boards across the province. It is charging parents of children in Grades 4, 5 and 6 for after-school help in literacy and mathematics. For $190, students can fill in learning gaps and try to boost their marks by signing up for 16 hours of small-group instruction over eight weeks with a certified teacher. 

The board says its "Learning Advantage" program is not a money grab, but merely an attempt to meet the needs of families who are already turning to private tutoring businesses for extra help for their children. It also says it can do a better job than private services because its program is written by experts and reflects the provincial curriculum. 

Whatever the merits of the actual program, the board is sorely missing the point. By charging for special academic classes, the board is in reality creating a two-tier education system that gives extra help to students who can afford to pay for it but leaves their poorer classmates behind.

The job of a public school is to teach the provincial academic curriculum to all students who attend its schools, not compete with private businesses. That means all of the board's programs should be accessible to all students, regardless of their family income. 

It is unfortunate that the York Region's new program is being supported by Rick Johnson, the president of the Ontario Public School Board Association as well as the Provincial Education Minister, Kathleen Wynne, who sees no difference between York's tutoring service and other fee-based education services.

There are several elements of the program that deserve explanation and comment at this time:

  1. It has been stated that the cost of the program offered by York is half of what is being charged in shopping mall tutoring centers. That is a completely false and misleading comparison.

    In fact, the York program is much more expensive than most other privately operated programs. There are ten students in each of York's after-school classes. These students range from Grades 4 to 6. At a cost of $190 for sixteen hours, this works out to $118.75 per hour of revenue for the program. The instructor's time is being divided up between ten students, meaning an average of six minutes per student. Therefore, at $11.75 per class, and six minutes of attention, the student is actually paying almost $2.00 per minute of attention from the teacher. That would translate into an hourly rate of $120 an hour for a one-on-one tutoring session from a private learning coach.

    Most private learning centres charge in the neighbourhood of $30 to $40 per hour. Some have groups of three students sharing a tutor, so in reality, this would mean that they would be given 20 minutes of attention and the cost would translate into approximately $1.50 to $2.00 per minute, or $90 to $120 per hour.

    Private tutors who provide direct one-on-one tutoring will charge as much as $50 to $60 per hour, depending on their qualifications and experience. The cost to a student then translates into approximately $1.00 per minute, or half of what the York Region District School Board is charging. And very few people would argue the benefits of one-to-one instruction as compared to instruction in groups of 3 or 10.

    In fact, the York Board must be making a huge profit on the program since it is using teachers who are not currently employed by the Board and therefore must be paying them at a much lower rate than would be demanded by hiring a union instructor. With a revenue of $118.75 per hour, and no overhead costs to speak of, the Board must be making at least $60 per hour from the program.

    Therefore, the York Board may be well within its rights to offer the program in competition with private sector firms, but it should not be allowed to mislead the public by claiming that it is much less expensive.
  2. The Board has claimed that its program is much better than some private tutoring services because it is less rote-based and more closely aligned with the Ontario curriculum. The program teaches a prescribed curriculum written by school-board experts that focuses on problem-solving and data management, according to Reg Robson, who administers the board's arm's-length Learning Connections organization which seeks new ways of drawing students and revenues. 
    The reality is clear. When faced with ten students who range in levels from Grades 4 to 6, the curriculum must be written and delivered as if this were a separate class of students, no different from the program they would receive during the day except that it is done with small classes. And we all know that smaller classes result in a much better education result.
    Robson is correct when he refers to private tutoring companies using rote-based and worksheet-based programs. Unfortunately, this type of instruction program is necessary with most private tutoring companies because of the inexperience of their instructors, who are often university graduates who are entering the job market and in search of part-time employment. The wages are low and the turn-over tends to be high in these tutoring companies, so by adopting a worksheet-based program, a student can continue the program regardless of who the tutor happens to be on any given day. This clearly is not the most effective way for students to learn, however, it is easy to administer and produces hard evidence that a child is improving through the worksheets.
  3. The York Region District School Board and many private learning centres are missing the point completely when it comes to providing students with extra help. The creation of a parallel curriculum merely provides a child with a second education program, albeit within a small-group setting which is much more enjoyable and effective than the current public system for most students. This parallel education program is only available to parents who have the ability to pay. Furthermore, the program that is being offered by York as well as the programs offered by many of the private companies, work out to approximately the same cost; roughly $2.00 per minute of direct attention from the tutor. 

    What most children need is one-on-one tutoring, or attention from a Professional Learning Coach. That cost is no more than $1.00 per minute, usually takes place in the child's home which is where he/she must learn on a regular basis, and is much more effective in the long run.

The Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic, for example, has established a system where parents can secure the services of a Professional Learning Coach for 90 minutes of direct one-on-one instruction, within their own home, for a cost of $212 a month (based on 2008 rates).

Compare that to the attention you receive from most learning centres who provide you with a maximum of 160 minutes of direct individual instruction for a cost of approximately $320, or to the York Board which provides you with a maximum of 48 minutes of direct individual instruction, for a cost of $96, and you be the judge.

It would be like a business person trying to sell you 5 litres of water for $10 because his is cheaper than his competitor who sells 20 litres of water for $20. Of course it is cheaper. But you are getting less water for your money.

The message to parents from all of this activity with respect to tutoring and learning coaches is that everyone, including one of the largest school boards in the province, recognizes that many students require additional help to bridge the gaps or to nudge their marks higher. There is a general acceptance that the current system is not working properly and will likely never be able to do so without incurring phenomenal increases in funding for education. The additional help is going to have to come from the private sector and it will be only available to people who can afford to pay. Yes...we do have a two-tier education system in Ontario. The question is, should the public school boards be allowed to enter into the battle for revenue from private citizens who already pay taxes for the public schools in the province.

Nevertheless, expect to see the rest of the School Boards in the province soon follow suit and implement their own after school tutoring programs to compete with the private sector.


Mentors Will Help You Succeed In Any Career
When you look at successful professionals or business executives, one thing that sets them apart from the others is the coaching or mentoring that they received along their way to the top. It is readily accepted by the most intelligent and most ambitious people among us that we can never have all of the answers. Therefore, instead of re-inventing the wheel, it is always advisable to listen to the advice of people who have "been there before us" or who are able to help us out with strategic planning that will enable us to avoid the pitfalls along the way.

Just think about it: all of today's professional athletes have coaches. These coaches can be generalists or specialists, but just taking a hockey team into consideration, you will find defense coaches, goalie coaches, forward coaches, team psychologists, etc. Politicians have speaking, writing and public image coaches. Singers, dancers, skaters and olympic swimmers have personal coaches. Even Tiger Woods has a golf coach!

In fact, when you are close to the top, the difference between success and failure can be very small. All you need is a small piece of well-placed advice and it will make all the difference in the world.


So, when you think about it, students should have the benefit of learning coaches or mentors just like anyone else. After all, most of us spend anywhere from 12 to 20 years of our life attending formal education classes so that we can become trained and prepared for a satisfying career upon graduation. The students who are the top of the class are always competing for scholarships, bursaries, awards, and positions in prestigious university and college programs. For the top students in the class it makes a great deal of sense to have a tutor who can help you gain a competitive advantage over the others. It may only be one or two marks that make the difference.

For students who are struggling in school, a tutor can mean the difference between passing and failing. If graduation is delayed by a single year, it could mean a loss of $40,000 in salary that could have been earned if you had graduated on time. That means that the investment of $2000 or $3000 in a tutor would give you a good return.

With respect to education, it is a wise parent who finds a good tutor BEFORE their child experiences difficulty in school. Tutors should not be seen as "fire-fighters", called in during emergencies only. They should be there to prevent fires. They should be there for preventative purposes.


So whether you are looking for advice on career planning or simply for guidance and tutoring assistance in any of your formal education courses, it makes a lot of sense to start looking for a good tutor or mentor. When you find one, he/she will be able to help you develop a strategic plan which will certainly give you a better chance of achieving your desired outcomes.


Elite Universities Posting Their Courses Online – Free 
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has instituted a new initiative called “OpenCourseWare” that virtually makes all of the school’s courses available online for free. This includes lecture notes, readings, tests and often video lectures.
   People from around the world are accessing this free material. For example, one linear algebra course has had 1.3 million lectures downloaded since in the first six months it was online.
   MIT's initiative is the largest, but the trend is spreading. More than 100 universities worldwide, including Johns Hopkins, Tufts and Notre Dame, have joined MIT in a consortium of schools promoting their own open courseware. You no longer need a Princeton ID to hear the prominent guests who speak regularly on campus, just an Internet connection. In December, Yale announced it would make material from seven popular courses available online, with 30 more to follow.
   The online courses and lectures are quickly becoming popular among students who are attending other universities around the world as a reference source. Some students are stating that they have trouble understanding the material as it is presented by their own professors, but now they can try to find online lectures that perhaps explain things in an easier to understand format.
   Universities really have nothing to lose by putting their courses online. Students can benefit from the intellectual stimulation of the material, but unless they register with the university and comply with the course requirements, they do not receive any credits that can be added to their transcripts. Yet, the image and credibility of the top professors in the world can certainly be enhanced.
   Indeed, many of the people who access the online material are themselves instructors who are seeking resources to assist in the presentation of their own courses.  


Some Sobering Statistics On Graduation Rates Must Be Considered When Planning A Public Education System
The Province of Ontario has some rather disturbing graduation rates that must be considered when discussing the future of the public education system.

First of all, survey's of parents indicate that over 70% of all parents expect their children to go to university.

Statistics show that about 25% of all high school graduates go on to university. Unfortunately, about half of those students drop out of their original program, shift to another program, or do not finish their degree.

About 25% of all high school graduates go on to community college. Many of these students do not complete their program of study, but the completion rate is a bit higher than that for university.

The other 50% of all high school students either drop out of high school before getting their Grade 12 diploma or they go directly to work right out of Grade 12.

These statistics have been the same for as long as we can remember. 

Therefore, when it comes to developing an education system that will meet the needs of our students and that will enable them to achieve their career and personal goals after Grade 12, we should take into consideration these hard facts. For half of our students, college or university is not going to be an option - not because they "cannot go" but because they "do not want to go". Society does have a place for people who do not have a college or university diploma, so we must stop "pushing" everyone towards university and making them feel as if they have failed if they choose another path.


The Key To Effective Learning Is To Reduce The Work Load and Engage Students in Discussion and Debate 
Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, Canada 's new guru of science teaching, runs a think-tank on teaching science at the University of British Columbia . He was in Toronto in the fall of 2007 to give a presentation to over 500 U of T and York professors, encouraging them to rethink how they teach.

The $2 million-a-year Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative will work with science professors in several UBC departments over the next five years to start applying fresh research on how people learn. The focus of the research may have a profound impact on all courses of study, right down to the elementary school level. His prime message: Teachers should deliver less content and give more time for students to debate with each other about ideas.

Louise Brown, an Education Reporter with the Toronto Star, reported on his visit in the November 4, 2007 issue of The Star.

Hi pointed out answering questions and persuading others to adopt your point of view is what stimulates protein in the brain and this stimulation is what leads to long-term memory.

"Studies show we can remember only seven items at a time and can process only four ideas at once, so having a professor read from a textbook is not an intelligent way to transfer information. It's like overloading a computer that doesn't have enough memory," Wieman says.

Wieman pointed out that the "old style of lecturing" resulted in the average student mastering no more than 30% of key essential concepts. However, by reducing the load of information and requiring students to "work the brain vigorously" you can increase the retention to about 65%.

He used the example of trying to improve the strength of your muscles by reading about exercising. 

"To develop the brain, you've got to use it and use it vigorously. You can listen spellbound to a lecture, but if your brain isn't busy asking questions, 10 minutes later you won't remember it."


Author of Boom, Bust & Echo Warns Against Overreacting To Increased University Enrolment
The following is an article from the Canadian Press that may be of interest to many of our readers. It was written by Collin Perkel and released on January 21, 2007.

Canadian universities, bulging at the seams with students and worried about finding faculty to teach them, could find themselves with the opposite problem in a few years, says a noted demography expert: empty classes and a glut of professors.

And it won't be as a result of generous government funding or clever public policy, demographer and author David Foot told a conference of Ontario university faculty members.

"If the government waits long enough, the problem will solve itself," Foot said. "Ten years from now, we may be talking about a whole new era."

Strong enrolment numbers at Canadian universities of late have been largely driven by the children of baby boomers, that massive cohort born after the Second World War but before the use of the birth control pill became widespread.

That "echo generation" has been moving into the university system in recent years, but will soon be moving out of it, said Foot, a professor of economics at the University of Toronto and author of the popular Boom, Bust and Echo books.

In November, Statistics Canada reported that university enrolment across the country had surpassed the one-million mark for the first time in 2004-05, fuelled in part by a growing number of young adults in the country.

"Don't presume that today's situation is going to persist," Foot said Friday at a conference organized by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.

"Demand may well be going down as the baby boom echo leaves our system."

The moderating effect should be most pronounced in Ontario, where the scrapping of Grade 13 created a surge in first-time students in 2003.

"Right now, we're in the very worst possible situation," said Foot, who slammed the former Conservative government's decision to do away with Grade 13 in the midst of the baby-boom echo as "stupid public policy."

"Five years from now, the echo is gone, the double cohort is gone; we may be facing an entirely different external environment."

Data indicate Ontario's current enrolment is a whopping 40 per cent higher than it was in 2000-01. And last week, the Council of Ontario Universities reported that demand continues to rise.

Applicants for admission to the province's universities in 2007 were up 5.2 per cent over 2006 and 11.7 per cent over 2004, latest figures show.

"The number of applicants exceeded projections, as they had in 2006 and 2005," the council said. "The increased demand poses significant challenges for the university sector."

While a higher percentage of high school graduates have been opting for universities, Foot said that trend will also likely slow and may even begin to reverse.

Employers are increasingly demanding non-academic or more practical skills from newcomers, which will tend to press students leaving high school into apprenticeships and trades, he said. Governments have also been busy creating incentives for college applicants in hopes of taking the pressure off the university system.

Ontario universities have also been sounding the alarm over how to replace aging faculty, especially with tight hiring budgets.

Statistics show about half of all full-time faculty are over the age of 50; about 15 per cent are over the age of 60.

Foot said those concerns about faculty shortages should ease as well.

The end of mandatory retirement in Ontario that took effect this year should mean a 15 per cent increase in faculty over what otherwise might have been expected, he said.

"That will get us over the hump," said Foot. "That will get us through this decade into the next decade and in fact we may be then buying out the faculty to get them to leave."


Will Public School Boards Begin Offering Private-School Options In Order To Deal With Declining Enrolment?
An article written by Louise Brown for the Toronto Star on March 26, 2010 sheds some light on where our public school boards may be heading in the not so distant future. As you read the article below, take note of the bolded sections. This could be the beginning of a whole new strategy which will see school boards create "specialty schools" that are designed to attract students who have particular interests and passions. There are many critics speaking out against the Toronto District School Board for what it is proposing, and yet, upon closer examination there certainly appears to be a lot of benefit in offering specialized schools and programs as an option to students.

The Sudbury school boards already designate some of their secondary schools as specialty schools and the Ministry of Education is implementing a number of "specialist" programs for secondary school students. We also have French Immersion schools which are most certainly a form of specialist school that caters to a particular program. What Toronto is proposing doesn't seem much different from what is going on in many jurisdictions right now.

The following article could be the beginning of a new trend that will change education forever.

Toronto board considers private-school options
(From the
March 26, 2010 edition of the Toronto Star; written by Education Reporter, Louise Brown)

Toronto’s public school board is considering a plan to open four new specialty schools — one for boys, one for girls, a choir school and a sports academy — in an attempt to stem declining enrolment and give students more choice.

The proposal is bound to revive debate about whether specialty schools, especially single-sex programs, cause social segregation when it comes before a Toronto District School Board committee Wednesday.

The move to an almost boutique option for learning, wildly popular in Edmonton, Chicago and New York, has been kick-started in Toronto by new director of education Chris Spence, who started a sports academy and two all-boy programs in Hamilton, where he was director until last July.

He has asked Toronto trustees to approve a feasibility study of the four schools by June, with the possibility of opening by September 2011, perhaps even in stand-alone buildings if enough students sign up, and maybe in high-needs neighbourhoods to make sure they are accessible to students of all backgrounds.

Spence would not say he’s taking aim at the Toronto Catholic board’s successful St. Michael’s Choir School — a joint public-private venture with the city’s Catholic archdiocese — but noted the proposed new programs would mean “offering private school options in the public system.

“And it’s no secret 68 boards in the province are struggling with declining enrolment, including ours.”

The Toronto board loses roughly 4,000 students a year to falling birth rates and migration to the 905. Eight Toronto neighborhoods are in the grip of public school closing talks right now; dozens of half-empty schools are expected to be shuttered in the coming years. Currently, about 260,000 students are enrolled at board schools.

Yet specialty schools can serve as magnets, noted board chair Bruce Davis, who expects demand could fill several schools of each of the kinds proposed; an all-boy leadership academy for kindergarten to Grade 3, an all-girl leadership academy for girls in Grades 4 to 8, and a co-ed choir school and co-ed sports academy for students in Grades 4 to 8.

“Parents love these schools and so do kids; at our four high schools for the arts, parents tell me they don’t have to fight to get their kids out of bed – their kids wake them up to go to school,” said Davis.

Spence’s original proposal of an all-boys’ academy this fall was scrapped after several trustees expressed concern about the social implications of separating children by gender, even in an alternative program for only those who want it.

Instead, a task force was created to take a more cautious, researched approach to the concept of single-sex schools, with some staff visiting all-boy schools in the United States .

However Annie Kidder of the advocacy group People for Education warns that while popular, these programs typically draw children of more affluent, school-savvy parents, “so they end up segregating kids along class lines as well as the specialty focus.

“My own daughter goes to an arts high school and to be brutally honest, I can see the division along socio-economic lines. It’s a hard balance to strike, between appealing to individual students’ interests and the overall good.”

Spence said neither the choir nor sports school would require an audition, in order to avoid some of the class barriers. That’s also why staff has proposed vocal music rather than instrumental, said Davis .

“Vocal music is not elitist; you don’t need to have a cello. And we’re proposing it be a real cross-cultural focus,” he said. The Catholic board’s choir school, which has a waiting list, focuses on sacred Christian music.

Besides, Davis argued there are too few specialty programs to fragment the board.

“We have four arts high schools (out of about 560 schools) – whoop-de-doo! And 10 per cent of our kids go to French immersion programs and 1 per cent go to alternative schools right now, so we’re not cannibalizing the system at all.”

The staff report suggests the boys’ academy start in kindergarten to catch boys right at the start of their academic careers, Spence said, considering boys lag behind girls academically by 4 to 13 per cent, are more likely to drop out or be suspended for bad behavior and are less likely to go on to higher learning.

A single-gender school would offer the same curriculum but use some different materials - more non-fiction books and hands-on activities for boys – and a somewhat different teaching style, including more opportunities to move around.

In contrast, the girls’ academy would start in Grade 4 to address some of the pre-teen issues of body image, self-esteem and relationships, said Karen Grose, the board’s system superintendent. The schools would not seek to hire teachers of just one gender.

Already the board runs a smattering of girls-only and boys-only elementary classes where principals report improvement in many students’ performance.



Maximum Class Size Restrictions Causing Concern Among Many Parents About Split Grades

The Ministry of Education has established legislation putting a cap on class sizes at the primary grade levels. As a result, when organizing their schools, Principals must first of all ensure that they do not exceed those maximum sizes. This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of split grades, especially split-grades that are "unbalanced" which occurs when one of the grades outnumbers the other and consists of more than 75% of the class. As it stands now, close to 1 out of every 3 classes at the elementary school level are split-grade classes.

If you ask teachers, most will tell you that it is much more difficult to provide instruction to split-grades considering the curriculum demands of the Ministry. And yet, studies have been inclusive as to whether the split-grade has any significant impact on student achievement. Many still conclude that the key factor in student success is the teacher - not the size of the class or whether or not the class is a split grade.

The following article, written by Kristin Rushowy of the Toronto Star, provides some information for reflection on this issue:

Parents concerned about split grades, class-cap study finds
(From the February 25, 2010 Issue of the Toronto Star; written by Education Reporter, Kristin Rushowy)

Parents’ concerns about split grades are “one of the most challenging consequences” of the class cap in Ontario ’s primary classrooms, says a new report.

Even though school boards were able to achieve the province’s mandate of 20 students per class from junior kindergarten to Grade 3 in 90 per cent of classes in just a few years’ time, one side-effect was more combined grades overall.

Principals surveyed for the study conducted by researchers for the Canadian Education Association and Ontario ’s Ministry of Education, said that was the major issue for parents.

The report also found a significant increase in the number of “unbalanced” split-grade classes, which occurs when the number of students in one grade outnumbers the other. In general, educators prefer to have as even a split as possible.

From 2003 to now, the number of combined elementary classes has risen from 25.8 per cent to 33.7 per cent. Among those, the number of “unbalanced”— with at least three-quarters in one grade — rose from 13 to 16 per cent.

Patricia MacNeil, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said that research on split grades shows that students tend to do well in them. “The younger students have the benefit of the older students, and it also helps instill confidence in older students.”

And, she noted, “combined grade or not, teachers will teach to students with a range of capabilities.”

When asked about the unbalanced classes, she said the ministry “continues to look at the report ... the whole purpose of reviewing the report is to see what are some of the learnings we can take from here.”

While the report lauds the government’s “speed and totality of success” in reducing class sizes, it also outlines both “benefits and consequences” of the policy.

“The way that the regulation was defined, the 90 per cent, the first thing that happened was that schools established classes with the right numbers,” then dealt with the overflow, said lead researcher Nina Bascia of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto .

“So yes, they achieved it and there were some pretty challenging circumstances as a result of that achieving.”

Split grades are tough for teachers, given the provincial curriculum offers little flexibility, and the report recommends that the ministry review it.

“It makes teaching a lot more demanding, especially in the upper grades ... (where) there are many more subjects that teachers must cover.”

Annie Kidder, of advocacy group People for Education, said that while the evidence on the benefits of class size is mixed, what research has shown is that “it comes down to teaching no matter what the class size is.”

As for split grades, she added, “no one is saying it’s terrible and it doesn’t work, but certainly there’s a variety of things that make it more challenging.”

The report also notes that while the province had budgeted $386 million for 4,800 new teachers needed for the smaller classes, as of 2008 it had spent $405.2 million for 5,039 teacher positions.

MacNeil said the ministry continues to work to ensure teachers have resources and enough professional development “to help them teach and deliver the curriculum in a combined class environment.”


Self-Employment Is The Greatest Trend In Career Development Today Among Older Adults In Particular
According to Statistics Canada, the period from October 2008 to October 2009 saw an increase in self-employment by more than 100,000 or approximately 4.3%. At the same time, the number of people who were "employed" in some capacity, fell by a total of 480,000 or by 3.3%.

Stats Can also found that despite the recession, very few people entering self-employment were forced to do so because of job losses or lay-offs. In fact, the increase in self-employment was almost entirely concentrated among older workers over the age of 55. Furthermore, the majority were what we term "own account" workers, consisting of people working out of their home or small office without any paid help. They were doing work that consisted of consulting or short-term contract work in the services sector.

This a further sign that older workers, namely the baby-boomers, are going to be around a lot longer than anticipated. A report from the special Senate committee on aging in 2008 concluded that 22 percent of retirees have worked after retirement.

David Foot, the University of Toronto economics professor who wrote the 1984 bestseller, Boom, Bust and Echo, says that 90 per cent of people who can afford to retire will do so as soon as they can get their pensions. The average age of retirement in Canada is 62.

Food sees a trend towards part-time work after retirement which will result in an increasing amount of pressure on employers to move into a form of phased retirement. Many people expect to live into their late 80's, so once you hit your 60's you face a good 20 more years of productivity. Many people work to maintain both their physical and emotional health.  


Scheduling of Classes For School Organization Purposes Is Playing Havoc With Lunch Periods
The following article, which appeared in the April 8, 2010 issue of The Toronto Star and written by Staff Reporter, Tamara Baluja, uncovers a problem that more and more students will be facing in the coming years as school boards try to find more efficient ways of balancing their diminishing budgets.

In some school boards, small schools are being closed with students bussed to larger centers. In order to accommodate the number of students for lunch, it is becoming necessary to schedule lunch periods over several different periods, as indicated in the article. It means that students could be eating lunch very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon. Alternatively, teachers will be forced to allow students to eat at their desks during class. 

This is also becoming a problem in many elementary schools where they now have three distinct class instruction sessions with two "recesses" or what is being called in some cases, "nutrition periods". They are therefore attending class during their normal lunch time.

On the surface, the story may seem insignificant right now, but in years to come it is going to be a huge problem, especially if schools are forced to comply with nutritional requirements by the Ministry. There may have to be more attention given to taking breaks for lunch and snacks inside classrooms instead in large cafeterias. There are serious ramifications with respect to supervision and teacher workloads as well. This is something that we will continue to keep an eye on in the future.

Why some Peel kids eat lunch at 9:50 a.m.
(From the April 8, 2010 issue of the Toronto Star, written by Staff Reporter, Tamara Baluja)

It's not even ten in the morning and Krisha Ravikantharaja is getting ready to eat lunch in the Glenforest Secondary school cafeteria.

School only started about an hour and half ago. It is only second period, but already lunch time for some of the students – at 9:50 a.m.

“We've been told that school cafeteria is not big enough to hold all the students at once,” said Ravikantharaja, staring at her sandwich glumly.

“I force myself to eat, because it's either that or starve for the rest of the day,” the Grade 10 Mississauga student said.

Faced with booming enrolment numbers, one-third of schools in the Peel District School board are scheduling lunch breaks before 11 a.m. for some students with no subsequent break until classes end at 3 p.m.

“Actually, 10 out of our 31 high schools have lunch slotted over three periods,” said board spokesperson Ryan Reyes.

Glenforest Secondary is one of those Peel District schools. Although most students have lunch between 11:10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. , around 370 students like Ravikantharaja have no choice but to eat earlier. The school has 1,396 students, approximately 370 students over capacity.

That’s not the practice at other GTA school boards. Catherine Parsonage, senior manager of business development at the Toronto District School Board, was shocked to learn about the Peel school board’s early lunch system.

“Wow! Really? They really do that?” Parsonage said when she learned of it.

“We try not to have school lunches that early, unless it's a very exceptional situation,” she said. Earl Haig Secondary School , one of Toronto 's largest public schools with 2,000 students, is likely the only school with a lunch starting at 10:30 a.m.

Newmarket High school is also the only school in York region that has lunch period starting at 10 a.m. Ross Virgo, a spokesperson for the board, said a recent influx of students to the school's new French immersion program forced it to schedule an early lunch. Currently the school has 1,250 students, approximately 100 students over capacity.

Daina Kalnins, a registered dietician and a manager of clinical dietetics at the Hospital for Sick Children, agreed with the students that an early lunch seems unreasonable.

“It's not fair to these students,” she said.

Although she knows of no studies on when exactly students should eat, Kalnins said meals should be generally spaced out every three to four hours.

“It's just common sense based on when food empties out of the stomach, which usually takes three to four hours,” she said. Kalnins is also concerned that some hungry teens might overeat when they get home or stop at fast food restaurants. “This is just setting them up for worse nutritious habits.”

Kalnins added children should pay attention to hunger pangs, as energy levels would drop unless they are allowed to snack in class.

In Peel region, earlier lunches are usually scheduled at older schools where the cafeteria is not large enough to accommodate all students at once. There is no official school board policy on when students should each lunch; it is up to the individual school to designate lunch periods. Glenforest principal Cindy Horvath said students are assigned staggered early lunches to address scheduling issues.

Reyes added some students might prefer the early lunch time, especially if they skip breakfast.

“I didn't ask for that and I don't skip breakfast. Does that mean I should be getting a later lunch period?” asked Aakash Shaw, another Grade 10 student at Glenforest.

A few sympathetic teachers let them snack in class, but “it's hard to eat and write down your notes at the same time,” Shaw complained. “I can't concentrate properly.”

During second-period lunch, most students were not eating. Lunch boxes were pushed aside as most students concentrated on finishing up homework or chatting with friends.

“The upside of having this early lunch period is that I get to study for the next three classes, catch up on my homework,” said student Sheldon Vaz. “But then I’m starving by the time I get home.”

The school has not received any formal complaints from students or concerned parents.

“I just don’t want to make a scene, so I haven’t said anything. But even some of the teachers complain sometimes, so it’s clearly an issue,” Ravikantharaja said.

Her mother also feels 9:50 a.m. is too early for lunch.

“It’s better for the kids if it is changed, but what can we do?” Ranjana Ravikantharaja said. “She’ll bring her lunch home and that’s wasteful. And when she comes home, she’s hungry and wants to eat right away.”

Reyes conceded there are alternatives to scheduling around crowded cafeterias. Some Peel region schools have one extended lunch period, which is then divided into three staggered time slots to accommodate all students — a model clearly not in use at Glenforest Secondary. Ten Peel region schools follow this model, while another 11 have only two lunch periods.

“I just want lunch at a normal hour, you know, after 11 o’clock ,” Krisha Ravikantharaja said. “Why is that so hard to get?”


Province Making It Easier For Students To Pay For University
Queen's Park announced this spring that it is capping the fee hikes for post-secondary tuition at 5% for the next two years. This means that students will have some stability in the rising cost of education at least until the 2012-2013 school year. Unfortunately, it is expected that universities and colleges will be facing stiff increases once the cap is removed as they attempt to "catch up" on lost revenue.

Almost 200,000 students will also be eligible for financial aid that is much more generous as well. For example, the weekly loan limit for a single student will rise from $140 a week to $150 per week. This only means a difference of some $300 to $400 per year for students, but what is significant is that the amount of money that students may earn each week without being penalized on their student loan has also gone up from $50 per week to $103 per week. This will allow students to earn over $2000 per year more than before without losing the money from their loan.

Furthermore, the government will now be increasing the amount of money student loans allow for books and supplies. It will also be providing the Ontario Graduate Scholarship to an additional 1000 students.

As for paying back the loan, the maximum amount of money a student must pay back each year has risen by $300 to $7300. This likely won't have much of an impact on the students since it was the first increase in this area in 12 years.

Despite the cap on tuition, many post-secondary institutions are beginning to collect some fees from the ancillary fee portion of the annual tuition amount. Since this is a "user pay" revenue generator, as more services are being switched to a user pay criteria, the schools do not need to use "tuition" revenue to pay for services that were otherwise just included in tuition.


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