Class act [performance levels] – news/opinions/letters-to-the-editor
Published Saturday, December 11, 2010.    Jerry Y. Diakiw

As a country, Canada has the narrowest gap in achievement between children from well-to-do and low-income homes (Canada Is Not Becoming Outclassed – Dec. 10). The world over, educating children living in poverty is the biggest problem educators face. In Canada, 12 per cent of children live in poverty, in the U.S., it’s 21 per cent, in Finland, the country that outperformed Canada, it’s 4 per cent!

Countries with high immigration do less well than nations with little immigration, which makes Canada’s performance even more outstanding. Canada has the highest enrolments in colleges and university of college-age students of any country in the world. Of the several reasons for Canada’s success, the most important for me is that Canada attracts applicants to our faculties of education from the top third of university graduates, as does Finland, while the U.S. and U.K. draw their teachers from the bottom third of university graduates.

We have systematically attacked the underachievement and unacceptable dropout rates of students from low-income families with programs such as Reading Recovery in Grade 1, and other early intervention initiatives. We need to do more to narrow the gap, and we have proven that it can be narrowed.

Jerry Y. Diakiw, Faculty of Education, York University

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