Welcome to Gaia! ::

AnarchoPhiliac's avatar

Liberal Genius

One of the many reasons I think Dalton McGuinty is all sorts of wonderful, and not the devil he is made out to be.

Quote:
Ontario is Canada's largest province, home to over 13 million people and a public education system with roughly 2 million students, 120,000 educators, and 5,000 schools. As recently as 2002, this system was stagnant by virtually any measure of performance. In October 2003, a new provincial government (Canada has no federal agency or jurisdiction in education) was elected with a mandate and commitment to transform it.

Improvements began within a year, and now some eight years later its 900 high schools have shown an increase in graduation rates from 68 percent (2003-04) to 82 percent (2010-11), while reading, writing, and math results have gone up 15 percentage points across its 4,000 elementary schools since 2003. Morale of teachers and principals is stronger (fewer teachers leave the profession in the first few years), and achievement gaps have been substantially reduced for low-income students, the children of recent immigrants, and special education students (although not for "First Nation" students). In short, the entire system has dramatically improved.
America the Fixable bug
Solving the nation's most entrenched problems See full coverage

These accomplishments have not gone unnoticed outside Canada. The McKinsey group, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C., and Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance have all done recent case studies on Ontario's education system, concluding that it is one of the most improved and highest performing in the world. They especially admire the impressive, innovative strategy that got the results. So, what's the secret?

It's simple. Ontario public schools follow a model embraced by top-performing hospitals, businesses, and organizations worldwide. Specifically, they do five things in concert -- focus, build relationships, persist, develop capacity, and spread quality implementation.

In practice, this meant refocusing the way Ontario schools delivered education. Like many school systems, Ontario had too many "top" priorities. The Ministry of Education selected three--literacy, math, and high school graduation--with a commitment to raise the bar for all students and close achievement gaps between all groups. There are other goals, of course, but these three are non-negotiable and take precedence because they leverage so many other learning goals.

Focus and persistence ensure that these priorities are not going to be discarded along the way. The history of education innovations has generated a "this too shall pass" mindset among teachers. One of our colleagues calls this phenomenon "the law of innovation fatigue." Any attempt to create a high-leverage priority (like the three adopted by Ontario) requires that the education system as a whole commits to them long-term.

But priorities don't mean anything if you don't develop the relationships necessary to enact them. The provincial government set out to develop a strong sense of two-way partnerships and collaboration, especially between administrators and teachers, and in concert with teachers' unions. This required providing significant leeway to individual school districts to experiment with novel approaches to reaching the province's three main educational goals, and focusing significant reform efforts on investments in staffing and teacher development.

By focusing on teacher development, Ontario was also able to raise teacher accountability. Decades of experience have taught Canadian educators that you can't get greater accountability through direct measures of rewards and punishments. Instead, what Ontario did was to establish transparency of results and practice (anyone can find out what any school's results are, and what they are doing to get those results) while combining this with what we call non-judgmentalism. This latter policy means that if a teacher is struggling, administrators and peers will step in to help her get better. (There are, however, steps that can be taken if a situation consistently fails to improve.)

The final element of the strategy involves identifying and spreading quality practices. Most education systems are loosely coupled to say the least -- behind the classroom door, teachers are islands unto themselves. In such isolated systems, two problems emerge. The first is that good ideas do not get around; they remain trapped in individual classrooms or schools. The other problem is that poor teaching can remain entrenched, because good practices are not being disseminated. A big part of the Ontario strategy has been to break down the walls of the classroom, the school, and even the district by increasing communication, cataloging and sharing best practices, and fostering a culture of teamwork. To that end, the Ministry of Education guides local school districts in developing more collaborative professional environments, while also acting as a clearinghouse for innovation and best practices.

The net result of these five forces is an education system that has the characteristics of a high-performing organization: relentless focus, interactive pressure and support, a preoccupation with results and how to improve them, a culture of mutual commitment, and what we call collaborative competition, where there is no limit to what is being attempted. The fact that this strategy develops leaders at all levels -- leaders who focus on results, as they help develop other leaders -- means that sustainability is built into the whole enterprise. Ontario isn't perfect. But it proves that large-scale reform can be accomplished in school systems in fairly short periods of time.


You CAN fix education. You don't necessarily need charter schools. Neither do you need more centralization. Let local boards have more autonomy to develop and test ideas, then the provincial/state government works with other local school boards to disseminate the ideas throughout the entire system.

From the mess left by the Progressive Conservative Premier Mike Harris, who ironically undid a whole slew of wonderful s**t set in place by Progressive Conservative Premier Bill Davis by openly antagonizing the teacher's unions, slashing spending on education by ********, and whatnot, the McGuinty Liberals managed to piece together a solid primary and secondary schooling system.

This isn't a Liberal versus Conservative thing, though. At least not up here. Even former leader of the Ontario Tories, coincidentally named John Tory, commended McGuinty on education (while holding reservations and criticisms on other ends, of course.) Essentially, it's about what works and what gets the job done, in a relatively efficient manner.
Bubsy's avatar

Dedicated Fatcat

8,300 Points
  • Beta Gaian 0
  • Beta Forum Regular 0
  • Beta Citizen 0
Could it work in the United States easily though? Considering how spread out we are.
Wendigo's avatar

Manly Explorer

8,750 Points
  • Invisibility 100
  • Money Never Sleeps 200
  • Super Tipsy 200
Quote:
Ontario is Canada's largest province, home to over 13 million people and a public education system with roughly 2 million students,


New York State
19,465,197 people, ~4.34 million students


Third most populous state, there. California has about twice as many people.
AnarchoPhiliac's avatar

Liberal Genius

Wendigo
Quote:
Ontario is Canada's largest province, home to over 13 million people and a public education system with roughly 2 million students,


New York State
19,465,197 people, ~4.34 million students


Third most populous state, there. California has about twice as many people.


It still has to do with spending per capita and class sizes. Not saying it doesn't.

Spending on education was more than doubled after the Libs took over from the PCs. Class sizes were also on average reduced.
Wendigo's avatar

Manly Explorer

8,750 Points
  • Invisibility 100
  • Money Never Sleeps 200
  • Super Tipsy 200
AnarchoPhiliac
It still has to do with spending per capita and class sizes.
It absolutely does.

And, in our particular case, that the public schools are generally financed by property taxes, so that rich areas (with few people and high property values) have very nice schools, and poor areas (with lots of people, and low property values) have not-so-very-nice schools. Resource allocation is a basic component in many social problems.
AnarchoPhiliac's avatar

Liberal Genius

Wendigo
AnarchoPhiliac
It still has to do with spending per capita and class sizes.
It absolutely does.

And, in our particular case, that the public schools are generally financed by property taxes, so that rich areas (with few people and high property values) have very nice schools, and poor areas (with lots of people, and low property values) have not-so-very-nice schools. Resource allocation is a basic component in many social problems.


That's a pretty shitty model, and pretty much what Ontario was reduced to for the most part by the end of Mike Harris' reign of "downloading costs to municipalities".

And the problem isn't gone yet completely. An example are fundraising efforts by schools, which results in schools in richer neighbourhoods getting more money.
gaalii-naaialii's avatar

Amorous Visionary

14,300 Points
  • Frozen Solid 200
  • Partygoer 500
  • Object of Affection 150
ontario has the highest tuition price in all of canada for university and college.
in ontario you are also required to completel 40 hours of community service in order to graduate high school which the school does not help you find. most volunteer organizations want mature people, and expect you to have a gazillion work references, so it is very hard for a lot of students to find these hours. and in the end, a lot of smart students end up not graduating high school or end up taking a year or two longer to complete high school because they can not get their 40 hours of community service.
and not to mention the Core French program in Ontario is garbage. I took it all through elementary and high school and I still can't even have a conversation in French. I know the words, but they never taught us the accent, so no one can understand us when we speak.
It does seem that America is beginning to experiment with different learning systems. Hopfully we will see something come from this. As poorly as student test scores have been, there is plenty of room for improvement with our big box schools.

A few examples on America's changing education system ~

"Louisiana Takes on School Reform"

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/04/12/louisiana-takes-on-school-reform/

&

"Exciting Schools"

http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/stossel/blog/2011/11/06/exciting-schools
YellowKumquat
It does seem that America is beginning to experiment with different learning systems. Hopfully we will see something come from this. As poorly as student test scores have been, there is plenty of room for improvement with our big box schools.

A few examples on America's changing education system ~

"Louisiana Takes on School Reform"

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/04/12/louisiana-takes-on-school-reform/

&

"Exciting Schools"

http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/stossel/blog/2011/11/06/exciting-schools

Voucher programs. Now there's a poor man's reform. Let me go to the State and jump through a lot of hoops to get vouchers for my private tuition which I will supplement with my trust fund to even be considered.
AnarchoPhiliac's avatar

Liberal Genius

nah LEEN
ontario has the highest tuition price in all of canada for university and college.

Buying into the CFS bull, are we?

Our high tuition prices are due to equalization, which forces $12 billion of our taxes to go to less productive provinces like Quebec to subsidize THEIR public services, and tuition.

Quote:
in ontario you are also required to completel 40 hours of community service in order to graduate high school which the school does not help you find.

That's the point. Go look for it yourself. You should be able to take initiative on your own, otherwise could you truly consider it community service?

Quote:
most volunteer organizations want mature people, and expect you to have a gazillion work references, so it is very hard for a lot of students to find these hours.

Yet, I graduated high school. As did many others.

Quote:
and in the end, a lot of smart students end up not graduating high school or end up taking a year or two longer to complete high school because they can not get their 40 hours of community service.

You have 4 years to amass yourself 40 hours of community service. You don't get to have any excuses if you don't graduate because you failed to reach that requirement.

Quote:
and not to mention the Core French program in Ontario is garbage. I took it all through elementary and high school and I still can't even have a conversation in French.
I know the words, but they never taught us the accent, so no one can understand us when we speak.

Mais, quand je parle fran├žais, mon accent est parfait.

And Ontario ain't a francophone province. You can't have a conversation in French for the same reasons I can't have a conversation in Japanese, even though I know the words (and even the accent): you don't use it conversationally in day-to-day affairs.
Less Than Liz's avatar

Profitable Prophet

7,700 Points
  • Brandisher 100
  • Money Never Sleeps 200
  • Risky Lifestyle 100
AnarchoPhiliac
Let local boards have more autonomy to develop and test ideas,

Oh, please teach us more about local autonomy.
AnarchoPhiliac's avatar

Liberal Genius

Less Than Liz
AnarchoPhiliac
Let local boards have more autonomy to develop and test ideas,

Oh, please teach us more about local autonomy.

I believe I've said too much. Can't actually have you IMPROVING anything, otherwise I can't make any more threads like these.
Less Than Liz's avatar

Profitable Prophet

7,700 Points
  • Brandisher 100
  • Money Never Sleeps 200
  • Risky Lifestyle 100
AnarchoPhiliac
Less Than Liz
AnarchoPhiliac
Let local boards have more autonomy to develop and test ideas,

Oh, please teach us more about local autonomy.

I believe I've said too much. Can't actually have you IMPROVING anything, otherwise I can't make any more threads like these.

I don't think you understand the extent of the powers and authority our local schoolboards already tend to have.
AnarchoPhiliac's avatar

Liberal Genius

Less Than Liz
AnarchoPhiliac
Less Than Liz
AnarchoPhiliac
Let local boards have more autonomy to develop and test ideas,

Oh, please teach us more about local autonomy.

I believe I've said too much. Can't actually have you IMPROVING anything, otherwise I can't make any more threads like these.

I don't think you understand the extent of the powers and authority our local schoolboards already tend to have.

I don't, mainly because if I recall correctly, each state does its own thing.
Wendigo's avatar

Manly Explorer

8,750 Points
  • Invisibility 100
  • Money Never Sleeps 200
  • Super Tipsy 200
nah LEEN

in ontario you are also required to completel 40 hours of community service in order to graduate high school which the school does not help you find. most volunteer organizations want mature people, and expect you to have a gazillion work references, so it is very hard for a lot of students to find these hours. and in the end, a lot of smart students end up not graduating high school or end up taking a year or two longer to complete high school because they can not get their 40 hours of community service.
There's such a requirement in my state, and I didn't have a problem with it.

Though, I was also a Boy Scout.

Quick Reply

Submit
Manage Your Items
Other Stuff
Get GCash
Offers
Get Items
More Items
Where Everyone Hangs Out
Other Community Areas
Virtual Spaces
Fun Stuff
Gaia's Games