• Ontario’s schools have issues – but don’t blame funding cuts

    … for an explanation for resource challenges in Ontario’s public schools, look to how the system is organized and managed… Archaic regulations, union monopoly (which helps create misaligned incentives for both bureaucrats and educators), lack of responsiveness to parental demands, and centralized, prescriptive curriculum are just a few of the many handcuffs holding back Ontario’s public-school systems… the problems in Ontario public education require a fundamental restructuring

  • Ontario won’t close schools for deaf and blind children

    Ontario will keep open four schools for 160 children who are deaf, blind or have severe learning disabilities while it develops pilot projects to help kids with similar challenges in traditional schools. The move follows protests by worried parents last winter and spring — and an outcry from opposition parties at Queen’s Park — after the government stopped admissions at the schools in Milton, London, Belleville and Ottawa for the fall.

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    Elementary students to get hour of math every day under new Ontario plan

    “We know the jobs of today and tomorrow require key math skills and knowledge,” said Sandals, who noted that while Canadian students are still among the strongest math performers on global tests, scores on Ontario’s standardized math tests slipped 7 percentage points in Grade 6 over the past five years, and 4 points in Grade 3. “We’re doing fine, but we need to improve how we help students who are struggling with math,” especially in a “tech-driven world,”

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    Laurentian faculty concerned by closure of Barrie campus

    The Board of Governors of Laurentian University announced today the closure of the Barrie campus… “It is unfortunate that the plan the Ontario Government was seeking to impose for the future of higher education in Simcoe County has led to this announcement… That plan would have seen unprecedented government interference into the university sector. Universities must have the freedom to determine and decide about the best options for program choice and how these should be delivered.”

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    Per-student funding at lowest point since the 1960s

    Ontario’s per-student funding for universities is already the lowest in Canada. And it is getting worse. Even before inflation is taken into account, per student funding has been heading downward since 2010-11. After inflation, it is now at its lowest point since the government began building capacity and expanding access in the sixties… students are left to pick up the financial slack. Operating revenue from Ontario’s tuition fees – the highest in Canada – already surpassed government grants last year.

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    Funding programs reverse the ‘brain drain’

    … the Canada Excellence Research Chair program created in 2000. It gives each of 24 researchers $10 million over seven years. Of the 24 chair holders, 23 are non-Canadian… Then there’s the Canada Research Chair program, also established in 2000, that invests $265 million in 2,000 positions, specifically to attract and retain top minds from around the world. The spinoff from these programs is immense.

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    Ontario spends less per student on faculty than the rest of Canada

    Per student, Ontario universities’ operating expenditures on faculty salaries have been the lowest of all provinces for more than ten years… If one were to take the teaching models in each province as given and assume other expenditures were the same per student in other provinces as in Ontario, the proportion of Ontario expenditures directed to faculty is 22 per cent, compared to 27 per cent for the rest of Canada.

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    Professors push back against laptops in the lecture hall

    Students who use laptops during class also engage in “high-tech ‘doodling’ ” – sending e-mails, exchanging instant messages, surfing the Web… even when students use computers only for note-taking, they retain less information than students who take notes by hand… doodling online distracts not just the person on Facebook, but everyone around them. Laptops in class are like second-hand smoke

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    Why we should be wary of Ontario’s high-school graduation rate

    Part of the reason the graduation rate is increasing is that standards for graduation have been lowered. … rather than simply blindly pursuing higher graduation rates, we should also be pausing and reflecting on what exactly we want a high-school diploma to mean. After all, while we want as many students to succeed as possible, if we make the bar too low, we run the risk that achieving a high-school diploma will lose all meaning.

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    Don’t undermine Ontario’s education advantage

    Ontario’s system has become a model of equity and inclusiveness in education and, as a result, in student achievement. Much of this is due to a shift to so-called outcomes-based learning and assessment. In this model, the child is taught as an individual with unique skills and needs and evaluated on the basis of what he or she can demonstrate and the teacher can observe… When classes are too large and teachers denied adequate prep time, the approach is unsustainable.