On the campaign trail this spring, the Progressive Conservatives targeted the sex education and mathematics curricula that the Wynne government had implemented. Now in government, Premier Ford has turned the consultation process into a wide-ranging exercise looking at the entire education system, from curriculum to delivery, And those consultations now include everyone who wishes to participate. Public consultation is a good thing.
Previous governments have also consulted with the public and stakeholders including educators, medical professionals, cultural and religious groups, and parents. So far, the Ford government is on the right track when it comes to the process. In fact, there has never been so many ways to give your input to the process: telephone town halls, internet forms, email, surveys, and even selected in-person consultation groups like what was held here in this riding November 6th.
But, will these consultations address some of the big issues in facing education? Key among those issues is the funding imbalance between the four school systems in the province. Right now, school boards receive different amounts of funding per student, depending on that student’s language of instruction and choice of a religious or secular school. Yet all four publicly-funded school systems teach the same education curriculum, as set by the Ministry.
There are other issues that need to be addressed: the rising transportation costs to get students to school; the lack of resources in the classroom; schools driven to fund raise for basic classroom equipment; scant resources for special education; and the ever increasing technology gap in the classroom. These are just a few issues this far-ranging, wide-reaching consultation must address. Time is running out as the public commenting period ends December 15th. If you plan to provide input, do it now.
Consulting all parties before creating a new plan is one thing. However will there will be consultation after the government’s new plan is created? Will those stakeholders have the same opportunity to give their feedback once the plan is complete? And when will we be able to see the fruit of this province-wide symposium on education policy? That is yet to be determined.
Here’s hoping that the Ford government takes all this feedback, does its homework, and submits a plan worthy of an A+.