Comment 42437

By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 16:46:37

How would an "economically and racially" integrated free public education system differ from the one we have (aside from the post-secondary part)? Would you bus kids from Ancaster to the North End and vice versa to keep the economic balance? - Kenneth

Some cities that have done this have bussed kids. I think we might be able to look at redrawing some boundaries first (if we can see any significant impact that way). There are other ways of accomplishing this besides bussing (integrated neighbourhoods would help) but to answer the question, I would not be against bussing.

We segregate right now. Often poor performing students are lumped in to one school (e.g., Parkview) we should simply stop doing that, that would be a good start. Also providing complete funding to our schools so parents and kids no longer have to do fund raising (a practice which favours kids in more affluent neighbourhoods) in order to provide extracurricular activities and sometimes just basic necessities would help to "equalize" our schools.

And what about racially equality? Would you make more Italian and Polish kids go to public schools? Would we ban sectarian schools altogether? - Kenneth

I believe in a single publicly funded education system. I would not ban sectarian schools, (that is a freedom I believe in) but I would not fund them with taxpayers money (I believe it is a freedom people can pay for themselves). And to answer the inevitable question, yes I would eliminate funding to the Catholic school board.

And as for accommodating the different ways kids learn, well ... you should talk to a few teachers. I know teachers in three public boards who are going nuts with the ever-broadening requirements for document, accommodating learning styles and disabilities. - Kenneth

I know a few teachers, I believe they are very good and I have discussed these things with them before. They didn't raise those issues. And even if they did, it isn't about them and what they want, it is what is best for the students. Could we make it easier and less cumbersome for the teachers? We probably can, but if the current batch of teachers don't want to teach so all kids learn, than I don't know what to tell you Kenneth... get some new teachers. The one thing a couple of my teacher friends have told me is the whinging from teachers that is often projected as "sticking up for education and our kids" is actually just them defending their turf for their own self interest.

But let me take a step back, because I'm not sure we're even talking about the same thing. For example, what effect would creating a trades based co-op program for high school students who do not learn in the traditional classroom environment have on regular "traditional stream" high school teachers??? I envision specialised teachers performing those functions... hopefully leaving the teachers in the "traditional stream" with more time not less. Properly funding and staffing our schools will help teacher overload as well.

I will concede that the required changes probably will not sit well with some teachers but changes will need to happen within the schools, teacher's colleges and the teachers' unions. A good example of change required within the union is the current lack of recognition for tech teachers. Tech teachers are trades people who essentially receive no credit for their education and start at or near the bottom of the teaching pay scale. This is why across the country we have problems attracting tech teachers. What journeyman trades person wants to take a (often drastic) pay cut to go teach? The answer appears to be, very few and understandably so. I can offer an heavy equipment mechanic with 5+ years experience a $100K a year job, becoming a teacher will pay him a fraction of that.

It won't be easy Kenneth, a lot needs to change in my opinion and there will be multiple challenges on multiple fronts, I acknowledge that. This is a bit of a hasty and not the best thought out reply, but hopefully you get my gist. As I said in a post above: The youth in developing countries however are remarkably switched-on. Frankly, we should be worried...

We need to get our youth switched back on.

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