Interesting that in ParentCentral.ca magazine, the Ontario McGuinty Liberals are now trying to convince parents that they actually do have a “choice” regarding participation in the full-day kindergarten. Clearly that is not the case at all. In fact, their options are only that their young children either attend or not attend — since kindergarten is not compulsory in Ontario. Some choice that is. In fact, that is no choice at all. Parents either do it the McGuinty government’s way or not at all.
Instead, choice should have been half-day versus full-day kindergarten — which was what Premier Dalton McGuinty originally promised. Meaning, another broken promise. Well, if the mayoralty race in Toronto is any indication, Ontarians are not going to simply say “okay sir, anything you say sir.” Meaning, the Ontario Liberals are going to go down to defeat in the provincial election of October 2011 in a big way — a way that they, in their current mode of arrogance and entitlement, simply seem to have no idea how bad it is going to be.
I have written about the full-day kindergarten program several times. See my archive here. My point is, that while I am not opposed to such a program in principle, I am when you double the cost by agreeing that elementary teachers are needed to teach the full day with Early Childhood Educators in a secondary assisting role, no matter how they want to spin it. And, all that cost at a time when Ontario has a deficit of $19 billion!
First, you don’t need elementary teachers in the afternoons when kids are napping or involved in play activities. Second, ECEs are the better qualified to teach 3 and 4-year-olds. Third, you do not need to adhere to the elementary teachers union view that 3 and 4-years-olds need a connection to the elementary school curricula and practices that only qualified teachers can provide. Nonsense. When the children get to Grade one, that is soon enough to find out all about the formal curricula. Remember, in the ParentCentral.ca column, Ontario Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky reiterated that kindergarten and school attendance is not compulsory until age six. So…..
I am also opposed that the full-time kindergarten program is scheduled to be in every single Ontario elementary school by 2015. We had not-for-profit and for-profit day care throughout Ontario before any of this full-day JK/SK started and things were working quite well. Then, along came the McGuinty Liberals, who wanted to change things, even when we obviously can’t afford it right now.
The crux of the matter is, in my opinion, that if the McGuinty Liberals remain in power in Ontario past October 2011, essentially all half-day kindergarten programs will die by 2015. Meaning, there will be no significant choice for parents apart from the kids are in or out until Grade One.
Time to fight back Ontario! As such, I would recommend the Hudak PC’s make the JK and SK programs about choice — half day mornings with a teacher or full-day with ECE specialists in charge, not only before and after school, but in the afternoons as well.
I know, I know, ETFO officials will be outraged, although that outrage might be tempered somewhat if they get to represent ECE staff (a decision I actually agree with by the way). But, remember, that education peace in Ontario during these past seven years has been bought by taxpayers dollars. What that has meant is giving the teachers’ unions just about everything they have asked for — apart from eliminating the EQAO and standardized testing, which the McGuinty Liberals will no doubt do if given another majority government.
So, Mr. Hudak, in addition to providing real choice re the kindergarten program by offering a half-day morning program, as well as the full-day, I would recommend your party guarantee that EQAO will not only continue but, in fact, will expand.
Remember, while both those issues are winners, it is the guarantee that standardized testing will continue that is the big one, because it is the only remaining mechanism parents have to know how their children and their child’s school is performing in relation to all other Ontario schools.