Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Early Childhood Education in Ontario: Bad Governance

In June of 2009, Charles E. Pascal, Special Advisor on Early Learning, wrote a Letter of Transmittal presenting a report he had been tasked with completing. It began:
“I am pleased to submit my report, With Our Best Future in Mind, which provides you and your government with a comprehensive plan of action regarding the implementation of your early learning vision. As per your direction, I have situated full-day learning for 4- and 5-year-olds in the broader context of moving further on Ontario’s Best Start goals for a seamless and integrated system to support children from 0 to 12 years old and their families.”

In December 2010, McGuinty is prepared to kill that plan entirely – implementing instead only his view of enriching his wife's union by stupidly putting teachers where none are required.

The Pascal report did note a role for the “Teacher” in early childhood education, but weakly. The report cites the responsibilities of the Teacher:
“Evaluates children's developmental progress withing the context of the Early Learning Program Curriculum expectations and provides summative reports to parents.
Prepares children for transition to the Grade 1 curriculum”

Both seemed forced at the time, and Mr. Pascal has since noted some concern with the actual staffing mix, where ECE programs were implemented, being prohibitively expensive.

The Toronto Star has an article today claiming the only thing the government will maintain is expanding the Teachers union role further into younger ages. In fact, over the past 15 years it looks like what will be accomplished is teaching 4 year-olds, instead of 18 year-olds (as grade 13 was ended and JK is implemented).  The Star article notes the concept of the “seamless day” from Pascal's report, but fails to note his direction was to develop a plan that put kindergartens into the context of an early childhood care strategy.
Which he did – I think, in the opinion of many, he did it very well.  But starting from scratch, it isn't clear the current primary school would be the appropriate vehicle for children younger than 8, and certainly not less than 6.

Should the Star article prove correct, the end strategy will be what McGuinty, maybe Mr. - maybe Mrs. - scribbled on an envelope prior to expert input being sought.
Which shouldn't be surprising to Ontarians – that's the exact same way our electricity policy was developed.

Both have other similarities. The OECD PISA test results for 2009 show Ontario has received nothing for investing an extra 40% in the teachers' fiefdom – and consumers pay 100% more for electricity now, which we use less of.
Both increases have the same cause.
A micromanaging government that discards expertise as easily as they discard representing the broader public interest, to benefit the narrow special interest groups they serve.

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