A progressive vs conservative view of education

I tend to view myself as a “progressive” conservative, or red Tory, particularly when it comes to education policy and programming. Yet, the differences in worldview between left of centre liberal progressives and centrist progressive conservatives is truly amazing. And, I am talking here about small “l” liberal and small “c” conservative pragmatism, not political party partisanship.

The reality is, however, we are like two ships in the night, sailing alongside one another, but never actually intersecting at any point other than in the importance of the journey itself. For example, during the last couple of days, a debate about the importance of education has been going on at Crux of the Matter between myself and Doug Little, of the “Little Education Report.” Check out this thread, as well as this one (half way down the thread).

My interpretation of what Doug wrote is that he assumes that more taxation assigned to education — read much more money — would change Canada’s provincial publicly funded education systems for the better (particularly Ontario’s).

How? I am not quite sure other than he uses the right terminology of what makes an excellent education system — points I could easily agree with. Yet, he would eliminate the current Ontario EQAO annual standardized testing process, as well as any kind of high school interest and ability streaming. 

Therefore, just how he would know Ontario’s education system was one of the best — apart from politicians and teachers’ union officials making that generalized claim — I don’t know. Moreover, while there have been reports that many students drop out of high school programs that are too easy (e.g., the non-college/university stream), it is also the case that students drop out of programs that are too hard. So, just how eliminating streaming would make the system more equitable and inclusive, I don’t know that either.

Then, there is his strongly held view that free tuition to post-secondary education would improve our society overall because everyone would have equal access and, therefore, equal opportunity. Now, while I am not inherently against free tuition, I take the position that more money is not the answer as the recent “Price of Knowledge” study has shown. Yet, like all research — even though the results clearly showed that more than money is involved when young people decide to undertake post-secondary education — the investigators came to that conclusion anyway.

Speaking of research to prove a point, in a comment Doug left earlier this afternoon, he lists programs and approaches that have allegedly succeeded versus those that have not.

For one thing, I couldn’t disagree more about Charter Schools. They are succeeding very well in many U.S. states and in Alberta. Moreover, although Doug did not specifically mention this fact, Alberta Charters are not faith-based schools. In fact, as this video shows, in Alberta they must be secular. No, the problem many have with Charter Schools is strictly political.  

As far as both the Harris and Rae government’s being the worst, I don’t agree at all. Dave Cooke was one of the best Education Minister’s ever and the NDP’s Royal Commission on Learning could have done a lot of good. Mind you, working in the public system myself during those years, I sure was not a fan of the Rae Days.

The Harris government, on the other hand, should not have “taken on the teachers.” It was a very difficult time for me to work for that government, being an educator to my bones. But, from my vantage point on the inside, I do believe they improved the primary curriculum and they did put through the College of Teachers and the common curriculum, on the heels of the Royal Commission.

Anyway, how many agree with Doug? How many agree with me? Or, are there other views altogether? Because, even if we are like ships passing in the night, we need to debate these issues if there is ever going to be education reform.

Debate and differences of opinion, are, after all, what makes democracy so messy. Even so, at the end of the day, we somehow come together long enough to make the education system work, even if it does not measure up to our idealized version of perfect!

C/P at Jack’s Newswatch.

47 thoughts on “A progressive vs conservative view of education

  1. At least you allow debate. Mr. Little does not have an opportunity for comment on his blog. Educators like Mr. Little want it their way or no way. I don’t care if parents want the schools he wants, just as long as I don’t have to send my kids to them.

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  2. There is the space for a letter to the editor. I have printed every one I received. I don’t have the time to monitor it all the time but of course I don’t mind driving Sandy nuts with this one.

    You don’t have to send your kids to the schools that the vast majority approves of. You can pay for a private school or home school. Knock yourself out.

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  3. Doug and Murasak — Neither of you are driving me nuts. If I didn’t want debate, I wouldn’t have a blog. However, I have been accused in the past of not allowing open debate because I won’t allow serious put downs or anything that could put me at risk for a defamation suit.

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  4. Murasak — It’s really unfortunate that so many public educators have ticked off parents. I admit it. There is an arrogance there. So many parents have talked to me about the “pedagogical wall” that stands between them and the teachers. Only teachers know best, etc.

    But, truthfully, its no different in a private school. If there is a difference it is that private schools can admit whom they want and expel whom they want. Their students are a select group. Public schools are universal. They must accept everyone (apart from Catholic schools as regular visitor Paula will discuss).

    There is also the issue of tuition fees and the notion of competition which public school teachers could learn from. In other words, when your students and their parents are paying customers, and your job depends on those same customers, you tend to be more flexible and accommodating.

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  5. The work of Paul Greyson at Youk U is instructive. He says even with the ability to admit or expel anyone they want, private school results are no better than public school results when controlled for SES.

    The next piece of legislation I would love to see is one to force private schools to participate in EQAO and public the results or lose their liscence. It should also be a requirement to use only ertified teachers to have your credits counted.

    OSSTF was successful in forcing boards to put “private” beside all credits obtained by public school students at private schools because they are seen to be of a lower standard.

    The bloom is rapidly coming off the voucher/charter rose in the USA as they fail to produce better results than public schools.

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  6. Doug – The private high school where my husband has taught p/t since he retired from the public system a number of years ago already is required to administer the Ontario “literacy” test, I believe, in Grade 11. And, if the student doesn’t pass, they are required to take the OSSLC before they can graduate. So, it’s already happening.

    Most of the private institutions that have caused the gov’t to add “p” on high school transcripts, are in downtown Toronto and are only in it to make a buck. The ones that have been around for a long time pay their teachers fairly well. Where my husband teaches, all the teachers are members of the College of Teachers — although I know that is not always the case.

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  7. Doug you couldn’t be more wrong about charter/vouchers in the US. They are more popular than ever—especially among minority communities.
    You seem to have such a dislike for private schools. Children First Scholarship Trust is a private voucher program in Canada that allows very low income families to choose private education. The program cannot meet demand for the thousands of applications that they receive. In the US charter schools are doing a remarkable job of improving achievement for low income minority children.

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  8. I don’t know where you get that information. Education Week, the Milwaukee voucher program has been evaluated. No improvement over Milwaukee public schools. Stanford study Charters more often than not perform worse than public schools. Every single state where vouchers are actually on a ballot they are overwhelmingly defeated. Most recent evaluation by Education Sector discusses major problems with charters, 300% turn over rate of staff.

    Congress just voted to phase out Washington DC voucher program. Wishfull thinking and propaganda doesn’t change the facts. See Los Angeles Times on charters. Thumbs down on these two failed reforms.

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  9. ALL private schools need to be REQUIRED to publish literacy results and use ONLY certified teachers. Yes, wages have gone up since OSSTF started to organize private schools.

    Some states in the USA are closed shops where teachers must be in the union. Other states are so called “right-to-work states. Guess which one has the higher test scores?

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  10. Milwaukee has had school choice for about 20 years now. A positive side effect of choice is that the regular public school system also improves. I can pull out many studies showing the positive effect of choice. What’s the alternative–unresponsive public education that up until the competition did nothing to improve education outcomes??
    (two out of three Americans support charter schools.-
    Gallup)

    Correlating unionization to improved outcomes? Geesh. What about the fine teachers (certified or not) who teach effectively in non-unionized private schools.

    The DC voucher program cancellation has caused a huge backlash by the black community in DC. This was seen as payback to the teachers. See this one: “Why, President Obama?”
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/05/023495.php

    It’s about what’s best for the students. Not the union.

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  11. Murasak — Thank you so much for a well reasoned response. I have always been pro-choice in terms of school choice. If you look back at what I have written here, it’s all there. Key is that being in favour of parent choice is not being anti-union. It is simply what it is. In fact, the notion that simply because a teacher is a union member makes him or her a better teacher is ridiculous. I can remember reading in my local newspaper how the paramedical/emergency services were trying to convince a local city that they would be endangering lives by going non-union. Thankfully, no one listenend and they went private to save taxpayers money. The paramedical personnel were equally qualified save the union membership.

    So, yes, I have told Doug before in another thread that he can spout “studies” that prove this or that all he wants. Because I (or you) can do the same with studies that are just as reliable.

    I also know for a fact, although I haven’t looked into studies, that Alberta Charter Schools are doing very well indeed.

    However, this debate is very healthy because it gives all sides an opportunity to give their point of view — with evidence. Since I do have the time to research every study out there on every educational topic, I have to depend on my readers.

    The point of this video is not which one is better, but that parents have the right to choice. It will take some time to evaluate results. But, as I say repeatedly, attitude counts.

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  12. Check the credo study credo.stanford.edu/

    Most charters worse than PS they are in.
    State after state has had referendums and vouchers are always rejected as they would be here.
    The fact remains in Milwaukee, no improvement.

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  13. Doug — A Charter School is not a panacea but it can lead to improvement. As a former researcher myself, I am loath to be so definitive as you are. Sometimes parent choice is what matters, some control over what happens to their children. That is what freedom is supposed to be about. Now, since you are, in your own words, an economic determinist, how can you advocate that families who can’t afford to send their children to private schools should just bite their tongues and go where they are told to go? Yikes.

    As a former researcher, there is no reputable way any professional can say definitively “worse than” or “no improvement” because it depends on the variables and assumptions and limitations of each study. When a child suddenly loves going to school and is actively engaged, that is not shown in the kind of studies you quote — which is the issue I talked about in the “Price of Knowledge” thread.

    Monopolies are never the best solution in my opinion. Openness is. I respect anyone who wants to send their children to a publicly funded school, whether it is unionized or not. I also respect parents who want to send their kids to publicly funded Catholic schools or, as in the case of the more progressive provinces, B.C. and Alberta — send them to Charter or Independent Schools. My point: Teachers can be unionized or not. That is not the issue.

    Also, being a “qualified teacher” is a red herring. I taught in a pre-service program for many years. I ran into what we used to call natural born teachers — who would do well with or without training. I also ran into people who were excellent at the end of their training. But, unfortunately, I also ran into prospective teachers who passed and became qualified who I knew would be better in another profession. In the private high school I taught at before I went to grad school, some had certificates, some did not. They were all equal in my view and all had university degrees, if not formal teacher training. They took some professional development on unit planning and the rest was automatic — the natural born teachers I was talking about.

    However, that said, I am not suggesting we let just anyone teach in our education system. We obviously need standards and protections for our children — thus the College of Teachers in Ontario and most other provinces.

    But, man, I just hate the generalized statements about research and shutting the door on choice. Just as I wish we had choice about health care since we already have a two-tier system. I can remember paying for semi-private coverage in the late 1960’s. That is another topic involving unionization — that union member nurses are better than non-unionized. Pure bunk! What matters is that I, as a human being, can decide where I want to go for my health care needs.

    The right to collective bargaining is a completely separate issue to competence. Qualitative research (which is what most educational research is all about) could easily be set up to show how important choices are to a child’s attitude towards schooling.

    As you and others continually tell me, the standardized test results and school rankings don’t mean anything. Well, I am assuming that is what the Stanford or Milwaukee studies are all about. If I get time I’ll check it out later today. On that topic, I have to thank Paula for pointing out yesterday how the Ontario government make up their final figures — making them meaningless.

    Re Ontario — if there is a fear to undertake choice here, it is because of the fear mongering of the various unions. A fear I don’t understand because Charter Schools are unionized in other provinces. In my opinion, its all about the fear of competition and the fear of change, any change. And, even though I am not anti-union per se, I am sure anti-the fear mongering and attitude of entitlement union officials and some union members display. And, have no doubt about it, it was the unions who scared the hell out of Ontarians during the 2007 provincial election. But, someday it will come back and my hope is that the PC government of that day has the wherewithall to put out an information campaign that explains to Ontarians what Charter schools are and what they are not — before the unions do their “troops in our streets” equivalent.

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  14. I don’t want choice in health care either except the right to choose my doctor within a totally public system. I also want dental and pharma brought totally within public system. I spend 4 month a year in BC. They have totally government public auto insurance and everybody loves it.

    Choice is the rallying cry of those who want to do better for their kids, the heck with the rest. In education this amounts to an attack on the public system that is tasked with raising up all of the students. Simply put in my view, the selfish view vs the universal view.

    I am surprised to see an academic attack academic research just because the accumulating research says charters and vouchers don’t improve anything even for those in the charter/vouchers let alone those left behind.

    Rather a moot point I believe since even the PCs have learned their lesson, twice it seems that privatizing education provokes a huge backlash that really means those who propose these options cannot be elected or re-elected.

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  15. Doug — I am not attacking academic research. Don’t put words in my mouth. Academics are always questioning methods and procedures, as well as results. That is the essence of scholarship. That is my job here!

    However, I have been so tied up in this debate that I have left aside other work I have to do. So, I am signing off for the rest of the day — although I will approve any comments that end up in the filter. I have two freelance assignments on my desk and I want to get a post up about “how to write an essay” in response to this piece. based on the chapter in my texbook on written language.

    The bottom line is that I am only one scholar (who is supposed to be retired), one blogger (who is behind on topics she wants to write about) and so depend on my readers (like you) to provide links and information. It has been a great debate but we have to now be careful that we are not getting personal. As I wrote at the start of this process, progressives and conservatives are sometimes like ships in the night, seemingly sailing parallel, yet always wanting the best for our children and grandchildren, albeit sometimes differently. Neither way is the better way, just different.
    But, in my opinion, both ways work!

    I’ll leave it at that but if others want to continue the discussion, I’ll leave comments on partial moderation — meaning once a single comment is approved, they will go through the next time around — unless there are links included. In any event, I will approve comments as often as possible.

    Now, it’s a beautiful day and I’m going for my regular walk.

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  16. No political party will touch charters or vouchers. It is the same as saying they want to privatize medicare. It is not your money to remove from the system to spend on what you like. If it is, I want all my Afganistan military budget back to spend on schools.

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  17. Look, I am coloured by Toronto but I grew up in Owen Sound so I know that kind of community well. There is zero demand in Toronto for choice because we already have two systems and within that we have an endless array of French Immersion options, alternative schools, arts schools, tech schools and on and on but they are under the jurisdiction of the TDSB and the TDCSB, democratically elected. In small centres, if you offer choices you instantly have major transportation problems. People cannot agree what they want. Some want religeous schools but the majority of the community thinks of them like nutters and cult people and worries even about their private schools. Nobody in Ontario wants public support for Muslim or Hindu or Jewish schools except a small slice of those communities themselves and without that Christian Evangelicals are not going to get support. You need to face the facts on this. These things are just non-starters with political parties and they will not budge on this because they saw what happened to John Tory. The choice movement outside the public system is a dead duck.

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  18. Doug said: “The choice movement outside the public system is a dead duck.” Since we have no idea what the future holds and all discussion on choice is speculative, let’s leave that topic for another day or not at all. While I can see the possibilities, I am also realistic and feel he has a point, particularly given the number of alternative schools we have in the public system. There is no doubt about it, the FB debate during the 2007 election brought out all the fears — and a lot of it was based on misunderstanding and discrimination (e.g., would Muslims set up a madrassa with public funding)?

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  19. The idea that those who want a voucher put forward is that they get their money back to spend how they like. Sure and I would like my piece of the police budget to hire security. I buy my own books so I want my library money back and I have my own swimming pool so I want my public pool money back. It doesn’t work like that people or we would not tax those without children in the schools for education. It is not your money to take back when you like.

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  20. Doug — All Ontario taxpayers have a right to free speech and asking where their taxes are going. Meaning that Bluewater parents have as much right to ask for an alternative school as Toronto has for money for dozens of swimming pools whereas most large boards in Ontario are lucky if they have even one swimming pool!

    It’s called setting political and government priorities.

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  21. “Zero demand for choice in Toronto”? Hardly. You have a new director who is embracing it–same sex schools, Africentric schools, and more.

    The demand IS coming from the grassroots in Rexdale, Malvern, Agincourt and other neighborhoods. While the demand won’t be for religious schools, those parents want safety, better academic outcomes, discipline, and cultural involvement.

    Government won’t do it unless the public starts demanding it. And unless the public system has an incentive to shape up, the tipping point will be with a dissatified parent community. It’s already happening.

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  22. Here’s the reason why minority communities won’t put up with regular public schools that don’t get the job done. It’s not about more money either.

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  23. Geoffry Canada the Harlam Mircle man was asked to work with KIPP and he refused because he said KIPP is into “creaming” First only the highly motivated apply for the lottery second, they need to sign all kinds of contracts, third they kick out all the poorly behaved kids or kids they say are not trying then they run longer hours and through the summer and they they say look we got better test results-Duh.

    This is no model. Model are only of use if they can be brought to scale. KIPP has aa over 300% teacher turnover rate as the young nthusiastic “Teach for America” types do 1-2 years and head back to grad school. Afro-centred school will be a public KIPP that is all. That and all boys school is a loser idea because neither address the central problem-poverty.

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  24. Doug, you are missing Murasak’s point entirely. It’s not about KIPP vs other kinds of charters. It’s about giving parents, particularly minority parents a viable path to success for their children. PARENTS in the clip want a better alternative for their kids. Did you not hear what the mom said?

    I also happened to see Canada on 60 Minutes Sunday night. Canada runs a CHARTER school who’s kids get in by lottery. Why do they have to have a lottery? Because the demand is so high. And that’s what really scares the status quo advocates.

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  25. Nobody is scared of the options at all. They are a tiny percentage of the system and will remain that way. The lottery is to give the facade of fairness not because there are so many. The charter movement in the USA is at a critical crossroads. They themselves realize that their supply of enthusiastic young teachers is exhausted as are the teachers and they cannot grow because they have been creaming so they need to grow by taking in less able and less enthsiastic students along with trouble makers so as they expand the quality drops. Don’t lisen to me, they say this themselves. Take a look at the CREDO study from Stanford.

    Yes Americans have allowed their inner city schools to deteriorate terribly because they refuse to invest in them. I have toured these schools in Boston and New York. No wonder people want out as individuals but we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of saying what is good for my children. The question must always be what is best for all the children. The answer is to create the world’s best public school system here in Ontario.

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  26. Doug, if you like the public education system just the way it is, I’m so happy for you. If it works for you that’s great. Problem is, it doesn’t work for lots of others, mostly for the reasons I listed above.

    I will not get into a futile pi**ing contest over studies on school choice. That misses the point of freedom of choice. It’s not about money for schools, it’s about who controls it. The status quo (school boards, educrats, and unions) does not want to lose that control over either how much gets spent and what it gets spent on. The “facade” is that it’s “about the kids”. It’s about power and money.

    Yes you are scared. Scared that outside of the monopoly, powerless low-income and/or minority parents will actually take control of their children’s education into their own hands.
    Middle-class and affluent parents do it all the time.

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  27. Both as a trustee and as a federation leader I fought strongly against creaming within the public boards. They use many tricks big and small but they must be resisted as much as possible. I worked at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts for ten years. every year some staff member would want auditions and portfolios for admission because they were oversubscribed. Luckily the pribcipal and I worked together to fight it back every year among parents and teachers. I know the Toronto system like the back of my hand and I have one daughter only. She went to ordinary public schools at all levels.

    I love it when minority and low income parents take control of their PUBLIC SCHOOLS. If you don’t go to public schools you should not get public money, period.

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  28. Hmmm. I see the discussion has been busy in my absence. It’s nice to have such a civilized debate on issues. Thanks guys for that!

    I would like to say to Doug though, that everyone who has been commenting here, albeit they are anonymous and will remain so, is very well qualified to take part in this discussion.

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  29. Interesting Doug that you taught the arts as well. Both in elementary and secondary, I taught visual arts — was a visual arts specialist. It seems like a lifetime ago now because I ended up in special education during my grad work. But, yes, I was once a professional artist — acrylics, watercolours and serigraph monoprints — now using that creativity to design and make jewellery and run a blog like this. 😉

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  30. By trade I am a history teacher. Since it was an arts focusses school, we integrated as much art history into the history courses as we could. I am all for as Mao said “let 1000 flowers bloom…” but within the public system. I deeply resent people who attemp to get ‘advantages’ for their children by stepping over other kids. You want an advantage pay for it at least. Not to crazy about private-public partnerships. They seem to always end up with private profit and public responsibility. P3 hospitals are a disaster everywhere with the money going to fast buck artists.

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  31. Doug — I am not sure you are aware of it or not but you automatically think anything private is bad. It’s not.

    Remember, Shouldice Hospital in Toronto and another private one for orthopedic surgery. They are world renown and certainly not run by fast buck artists. Too many assumptions, all negative.

    Some private schools, like where my husband teaches part-time, is non-profit and is known for its academic excellence. Then, there is Ridley College (not where my husband teaches). I know for a fact they have many bursaries and accept poor kids. My son with autism and LD had to be sent to a private school because he was “a hard to serve,” part of it paid with taxpayer dollars.

    I would never condemn a parent because they want the best for their children. You and I talked about determinism on the weekend. You seem to think parents shouldn’t do anything — which simply leads to victimhood. That is where you and I part company. I think parents and kids need to learn what it means to be empowered to change their own lives. To bring improvement. That is where choice comes in for me. Public is not always the best option for every child. The empowered parents who are advocates on behalf of their own kids are certainly not walking over other kids. That’s over the top rhetoric.

    But, I would recommend we give this topic a rest because no one’s mind is going to be changed, although it was a good debate because myths and assumptions have been questioned on all sides.

    With the global warming issue and HST, IMO few in B.C. or Ontario are going to debating the subject of parent school choice any time soon, that is for sure. Nor will they likely be doing so in October 2011 during the next Ontario election. This time around it will be all about the deficit, the economy and the environment. At least that is my prediction. Last time was about education.

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  32. Equality does not mean the same. If one had a child who wanted to play hockey and a child who wanted ballet lessons, equality does not mean that they must take the same program but they should have a common core experience in school. The grant need to be the same then we are on safe ground. Common sense says of course special ed kids ESL etc need a larger grant. We have had parents who want to pay for extra staff, want to hire their pals etc. We had to say no this is a public system.

    Parents can have all the choice they want, just don’t expect public funding for it. Clearly that is not going to happen in Ontario.

    Is private bad in education? Yes universally it is bad for society. Private schools have a few main reasons for existence. The main ones are 1) to perpetuate the class system by giving rich kids an advantage. This is the UCC, BSS, crowd.2) To perpetuate traditional and faith values. Society should not underwrite specific faiths and values. 3) to give a certain special education the public system refuses to give. This is a tougher one. I am highly sympathetic to the Autistic lobby and believe they should be highly funded, within the public system if at all possible. 4) To support a specific pedagogical style such as Montessori or Waldorf. To bad Montessori became a private system because Maria was a socialist highly motivated to educate orphans. Can’t support it as a private system.

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  33. My entire life has been dedicated to the public education system with the emphasis on public. I view the private system as the last bastion of elitism, or reactionary values we would be better without or fastbuck profiteers. I have sympathy for the special ed wing of the private movement. I see them as indication of the imperfection of the public system. I also respect and admire Maria Montessori. Her influence reshaped public kindergartens but her son decided her didactic materials could be patented and he could make money by going private. Less admirable.

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  34. OK. I swore I wouldn’t get into this P**Sing contest, but here goes. Sandy, you are right, there is more to this study than meets the eye.

    These kinds of special public schools exist because have a charter granted by a governing body. Coupled with the ability monitor their performance (both academic and fiscal), this give them unique accountability. One thing it does say, and is a characteristic of charter schools, is that when they are BAD they should close. I couldn’t agree more. When has anyone EVER heard of a poorly performing public school closing (on any criteria aside from enrollment)?

    The study did note that charter schools had a greater effect on elementary school level students than high school, particularly in reading. Also, varying state policies affected the outcomes as well.

    I also point out that public school advocates are loath to compare public schools based on academic performance, but want us to look at other factors surrounding schools. When the argument suits, then test scores “prove” there is no difference. So? What about parental satisfaction, safety, staff turnover, etc?

    I agree that charter schools are NOT the perfect solution. There are many problems which are usually the result of various state policies. With all the problems surrounding charters what is the alternative? An unresponsive, unaccountable monopoly run by a rigid bureaucracy that has absolutely NO incentive to change or improve.

    School choice is more than chartered schools, which in themselves take a few different forms. It is also access to vouchers, homeschooling, and alternative public education.

    Most people will still choose the local public school. Most students do just fine in that environment, but for the significant number who do not parents need to have viable alternatives. One sized fits all education is not working.

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  35. Educ8m — With all due respect, this topic is not really about a p**sing contest as you suggest. I honestly believe it is about debate and looking at all the issues.

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  36. I assume this thread has reached a logical conclusion, but since I am busy for the rest of the day, I will leave comments on partial moderation in case anyone has a final thought.

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  37. I just want to caution you, Sandy, not to “change your views on the importance of school choice outside the publicly-funded system” on the basis of the mixed results of charter schools. Charter schools are just one of the options that parents should be able to choose among in a healthily-competitive school market. If parents can choose from a wide array of options, including private schools, distance schools, boutique schools, magnet schools, and home schools, they will have a much better chance of finding an excellent match for their children. Furthermore, the schools vying to attract students, including the charter schools, will have an incentive to become more responsive and improve their service. It’s a win/win situation for everybody.

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  38. Thanks Malkin. Nice to hear from you. I have always been an advocate of choice simply because of the notion “of match.” Of course, that can and is usually within the regular public system — alternative schools. But, this debate has been very healthy!

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  39. I am all for “choice” I am against “advantage” especially when people attempt to step over others with the same rights to get it. When I was a tustee, I facilitated the opening of 2 new alternative schools in the ward I represented. I supported French Immersion schools although I have had “creaming” reservations about them and helped create and worked in an “arts focussed” high school. There is a huge difference between difference and advantage. Even within the public schools some parents are attempting to create an eilte private experience for themselves with public money. I have always opposed this.

    The research on vouchers is the same as charters, no particular advantage in test scores at least. Put vouchers on the ballot any time in Ontario. It will get crushed. Yes people will say well we must do more education work on this then. No that is not the problem. People do not want to pay taxes for “other peoples advantages” or particular interests.”

    Closing public schools? Arne Duncan closed poor performing public schools all over Chicage. It makes no difference. Those kids just go to the next school down the street and it becomes the new por performing school. The problem is not in the teachers, the principal or even the curriculum. The problem is in the children. They are poor and whereever you go on the entire planet education results are DIRECTLY related to social class. Can it be mitigated, yes it can but at superhuman effort. I know you don’t want to accept this. You want to blame the teachers, the bureaucrats, the curriculum and program but ALL of the evidence is on my side here.

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  40. There is nothing wrong “IN PRINCIPLE” with choice inside the public system. Some of the choices people make I believe are “ill advised” (Afro-centred schools, Aboriginal schools, boy’s schools…) but theirs to make. When it smacks of elitism, ie way too many kids in gifted because the criteria are wrong or auditions for public programs and the like I am opposed.

    When was it ever about me?It is always about what is best for the students. That is why our project ought to be building the best public school system in the world, IMHO. The public in Ontario clearly does not support public money for private education options and you can rest assured, this will not change.

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  41. Very interesting report

    http://www.publicschoolinsights.org/visionaries/JerryWeast

    Montgomery Co Md has made the greatest progress in achievement by choosing one goal, “having every single student college ready by grade 12 graduation” and rettoling everything to achieve this goal. I agree with much of what they have done but not all of it naturally. What is really interesting is that he comes pretty close to saying that diversity is the enemy of achievement. Something to think about for ALL of us here.

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  42. I’ve decided to turn the comment feature off on this thread because everyone has pretty much said all they are going to say and because I am taking a break. Thanks everyone!

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