Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Taking Control of Their Schooling

There's a bit of a kerfuffle in Ontario right now because of, "the Toronto District School Board's decision to establish one of Canada's first black-focused schools" (story here)

I didn't know what to think at first. My immediate thoughts were something along the lines of segregation, and would this even get suggested if the idea were for a white-centric school? Then I shook my head. White-centric schools are what we have now. Despite a few blossums of multiculturalism, the root and trunk of what kids learn about Canada is white and western.

What's actually happening with this is that a community took the term "public school" to heart and decided that, as the public, they had a right to find an approach to schooling and curriculum that fit their community. They did what homeschooling parents do and recognized that their children's education was a matter that they had every right to exercise control over.



Gila said...

Ontario funds over 100 specialty and alternative schools including arts-based, sports-based, Native, behaviour management schools, an all-year school, work-at-your-own-pace schools, night schools, gifted programs within schools, a gay/lesbian/trangender high school, etc. In addition, we fully fund French Immersion, French, Catholic, French-Catholic, two Protestant schools and five Ukrainian Eastern Rite schools under Catholic school boards. McGuinty has pledged 100 more specialty schools including a new art-based high school next year in Etobicoke. The Catholic schools are even sub-specializing with Catholic-arts high schools!

Why this explosion of specialty and alternative schools? Because that’s what parents, kids and teachers are interested in!

I would suggest that many schools are not successful simply because they have a focus which is “valuable” to society. Rather, these schools are successful because the kids and staff want to be there, share a common interest and bond, engage the families and communities and have an incentive to succeed. Successful schools have successful students - kids who grow up with good self esteem to be productive members of society.

I cannot imagine a single specialty school where the children could not attend a regular local public school Mon-Fri and spend evenings and weekends focusing on their interests, be it language, arts, sports or religion. We all understand the convenience of having it all under one roof - but is the purpose of school funding to be merely convenient? School funding is for education - and interestingly enough, public/specialty/alternative schools all deliver.

So let’s stop judging each other’s interests in education. So long as the educational requirements are met, let’s support all viable forms of SCHOOL CHOICE!

Dawn said...

Gila - Or even the choice not to go to school (seeing as I'm a homeschooler). :) But really I agree with you and thank you for the information on the different types of school in Ontario. I think that's pretty exciting stuff and where more public school systems should be headed!

Gila said...

Dawn, thanks for reminding us about all the Home-schoolers. In my opinion home schooling is great if it is the parent(s) first choice and is successful. What worries me are the kids who are home-schooled just because there is no public school that meets the parents needs and private is too expensive. Catholics are rarely denied a faith-based education in Ontario while other faiths have to pay for private or forgo faith-based. For many families, secular public education is not an option and the cost of private or home-schooling creates a lot of stress.