Province to conduct broad consultation on education
The Premier and the Minister of Education have announced that the province will consult parents and others across the province about a range of educational issues – from math and science curriculum to cell phone use in schools.
The consultation will ask for participants’ input in a number of areas, including:
- improving Ontario students’ performance in “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
- preparing students with job skills, including skilled trades or fields such as coding
- graduating students with life skills like financial literacy
- providing age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects like mental health, sex-education, and legalization of cannabis
- improving standardized testing
- banning cellphone use in the classroom
- developing a Parents’ Bill of Rights
Premier says consultation meets election promise
At the press conference announcing the consultation, Premier Ford said, “We promised to deliver an education system that put the rights of parents first, while getting back to the basics when it comes to teaching fundamental subjects like math. Today we are pleased to say: Promises made, promises kept.”
Consultations in person and online
The consultations will begin in September, and will include an online survey, telephone town halls in every region of Ontario, and a submission platform so that stakeholders can provide detailed proposals to the Ministry. The Minister of Education, Lisa Thompson, said that the results of the consultations will be used to develop policy and initiatives for the 2019-2020 school year.
Interim health curriculum released
The Ministry of Education also released the interim elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum (dated 2010) to be used by all teachers starting in September. Some changes to Ontario’s mathematics curriculum are also planned, but not available yet. The Premier said that all teachers must teach the curriculum as outlined in the document.
Parents’ Bill of Rights
Along with the surveys and consultations, the Minister of Education said that she would strike a “Public Interest Committee” to “help inform the creation of a Parents’ Bill of Rights,” and ensure that the Ontario College of Teachers has the capacity to deal with “curriculum-based misconduct issues.” Parents will also be asked about the Bill of Rights during the province-wide consultations.
As a first step, the government launched a dedicated online portal, Fortheparents.ca, where parents can report “concerns related to the curriculum being taught in the classroom.” While parents can report anonymously, they must name the school and the board.
Transferable skills and competencies on hold
The previous government created a Transformation Steering Committee to provide recommendations on:
- modernizing Ontario’s curriculum
- developing new report cards
- creating more effective strategies for grade 9
- updating provincial assessment practices
The committee released a set of guiding principles, which included a call to “clearly define and understand competencies and skills so that they can be effectively integrated into curriculum”, and to recognize the need to support all students to develop the “knowledge, skills, values and attitudes they need to become informed, productive, empathetic, responsible and active citizens in their own communities and in their world.”
It appears that this focus on broader skills is on hold for now.
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