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.,
Professional Learning Coach & Director of
The Learning Clinic Education Centre
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
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.
Perspectives On Developing Trends In Education
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
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
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.
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.
Fraser Institute Report On
Schools Demonstrates The Realities of the Business of
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.
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
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
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
If you would like the complete Ontario Elementary Schools Report
Card in PDF format, CLICK
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
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
COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS IS HEATING UP
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
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
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
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?
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:
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
THE NEXT STEP
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
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
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.
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
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.
Shift From Success To Significance By Baby Boomers Will Have A Huge
Impact On Career Scene
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
have been the two Cities to bring this issue to the “tipping point”.
AfricentricAlternative School Debate In Toronto May Lead To A New
Organizational Model For High Schools
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
In fact, the only
difference between an AfricentricSchool
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
in cities such as Detroit,
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
Creating a school which
addresses the needs of a specific group of students is not a new concept.
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
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
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.
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
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 MarymountAcademy
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
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.
NEW DIRECTION PROMOTED BY GOVERNMENT
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.
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."
MORE CONDUCIVE TO TRANSITIONS PROGRAM
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.
would even benefit the “Grade 7, 8, 9 Transitions Program” which is
intended to help students make the transition from elementary to secondary
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
REFLECTION: 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
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
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
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.
Classrooms May Be Just Around The Corner
than 1700 girls and boys in South
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
parents are choosing this option whenever and wherever it’s made
available.” Indeed, more than 150 South
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic, for
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
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.
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.
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.
TUTORS ARE LEARNING COACHES:
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.
CAREER PLANNING OR EDUCATION - IT MAKES
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Louise Brown, an Education Reporter with the
Toronto Star, reported on his visit in the November 4, 2007 issue of The
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
of Boom, Bust & Echo Warns Against Overreacting To Increased
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.
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
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
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
"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
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
"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."
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.
board considers private-school options (From the March
26, 2010 edition of the Toronto Star; written by Education Reporter,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
it’s no secret 68 boards in the province are struggling with
declining enrolment, including ours.”
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
argued there are too few specialty programs to fragment the board.
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.”
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.
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.
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
the board runs a smattering of girls-only and boys-only elementary
classes where principals report improvement in many students’
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:
concerned about split grades, class-cap study finds (From the February 25, 2010 Issue of the Toronto Star; written by
Education Reporter, Kristin Rushowy)
about split grades are “one of the most challenging
consequences” of the class cap in Ontario’s primary classrooms, says a new report.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
grades are tough for teachers, given the provincial curriculum
offers little flexibility, and the report recommends that the
ministry review it.
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.”
Is The Greatest Trend In Career Development Today Among Older Adults
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
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
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.
Classes For School Organization Purposes Is Playing Havoc With Lunch
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
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.
some Peel kids eat lunch at 9:50
(From the April 8, 2010 issue of the Toronto Star, written by Staff
Reporter, Tamara Baluja)
not even ten in the morning and Krisha Ravikantharaja is getting
ready to eat lunch in the GlenforestSecondary
only started about an hour and half ago. It is only second period,
but already lunch time for some of the students – at
been told that school cafeteria is not big enough to hold all the
students at once,” said Ravikantharaja, staring at her sandwich
force myself to eat, because it's either that or starve for the rest
of the day,” the Grade 10 Mississauga student said.
with booming enrolment numbers, one-third of schools in the PeelDistrictSchool
board are scheduling lunch breaks before
for some students with no subsequent break until classes end at
10 out of our 31 high schools have lunch slotted over three
periods,” said board spokesperson Ryan Reyes.
Secondary is one of those Peel District schools. Although most
students have lunch between
around 370 students like Ravikantharaja have no choice but to eat
earlier. The school has 1,396 students, approximately 370 students
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.
Really? They really do that?” Parsonage said when she learned of
try not to have school lunches that early, unless it's a very
exceptional situation,” she said. EarlHaigSecondary
one of Toronto's
largest public schools with 2,000 students, is likely the only
school with a lunch starting at
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
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.
not fair to these students,” she said.
she knows of no studies on when exactly students should eat, Kalnins
said meals should be generally spaced out every three to four hours.
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.”
added children should pay attention to hunger pangs, as energy
levels would drop unless they are allowed to snack in class.
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.
added some students might prefer the early lunch time, especially if
they skip breakfast.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
school has not received any formal complaints from students or
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.
mother also feels
is too early for lunch.
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
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.
just want lunch at a normal hour, you know, after ,”
Krisha Ravikantharaja said. “Why is that so hard to get?”
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
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.
The Learning Clinic is The
Private Practice of Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education), OCT
4456 Noel Crescent, Val Therese, ON P3P 1S8 Phone: (705) 969-7215Email: