Drummond Report and Education in Ontario
by Kevin Larson
To Comment on this article Click Here
The Drummond Report has been released. Cost cutting options have been
recommended for the province. What about education?
I would like to make two comments on cost savings that were ignored and one comment on the proposed recommendations for First Nations.
I should note that these are my opinions only. I submit these to you to help elicit discussion. In these challenging times – all options should be on the table.
It is unthinkable that Mr. Drummond did not explore the wasted billions of dollars that it costs Ontarians to maintain not one but four separately funded education systems.
Yes it is four. We have the English Public System and the French Public System. We also have the English Catholic System and the French Catholic System.
Picture this – Four complete sets of administration, employees, trustees, schools, etc. In much of Ontario, half empty Catholic schools sit next to half empty public schools. This defies explanation.
I’ll give a local example. Recently, the French public board removed itself from a shared bussing service with the Grey-Bruce area public and Catholic boards – costing you, the taxpayers, additional tens of thousands of dollars. This is just a drop in the bucket of monies wasted by having four separately funded school systems.
In 1997, residents of Newfoundland said “yes” to the following referendum question:
"Do you support a single school system where all children, regardless of their religious affiliation, attend the same school where opportunities for religious education and observances are provided? "
In 1998, Quebec moved to English and French school boards only. Quebec did away with fully funded Catholic school boards.
If Ontario were to collapse the Catholic systems into the public systems, we could save an estimated $1 to $2 billion.
Is it not time for this question to be put to Ontarians?
It can be done quite legally.
My second observation – on a puzzling oversight. When the provincial government rolled out the full day kindergarten they overlooked a more cost effective alternative - the exclusive use of Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) as the instructors in the Kindergarten classrooms.
ECE’s are trained specifically in matters dealing with young children. That is their expertise.
In a study lasting three school years, from 1996 to 1999, Dr. Robert Coplan, of Carleton University’ Department of Psychology, performed a “junior kindergarten differentiated staffing pilot project.” The use of ECE’s as compared to certified teachers was evaluated. The study started with the Ottawa Board of Education, then continued with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
Three years of study provided evidence that supports the possible use of ECE’s in an instructional role:
“Overall, the results from this study provide further converging evidence to suggest that early childhood educators could be feasibly employed as instructors for Junior Kindergarten classes without significantly impacting upon the children in the class, their parents, or school administrators.”
I commend the certified teachers who have taken on the challenge of educating our youngest students. I only put this forward to note the absence of this as a discussion point by Mr. Drummond. ECE’s are paid less than teachers. Using ECE’s could save millions of dollars – and possibly save the full day kindergarten program.
What other cost saving options did Mr. Dummond ignore?
I would like to finish with a strong endorsement of Mr. Drummond’s recommendations for First Nations education.
“The commission believes that there is an urgent need to significantly improve the provision of on-reserve First Nations education in the province. The current state of on-reserve education in Ontario is unacceptable.”
Please look at the report for all the recommendations for First Nations education. This needs to be fixed.
I provide each of the above three discussion points in advance of the provincial government’s budget expected in March. Please look at the report. This is a critical time for the future of Ontario.
Scrolling stops when you move your mouse inside the scroll area.
You can click on the ads for more
books, sports, movies ...
Saturday, March 03, 2012