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Friday, December 17, 2010

The Growing Pains of FDK/ELP

Earlier this week the Ontario Ministry of Education changed part of their plans for the new FDK/ELP.  The before and after school programs as part of the FDK/EKP will no longer have to be run by the school/board. The Ministry's Press Release words the changes as 'giving parents more options'. The Toronto Star & Parent Central refer to it as 'scrapping a key component'. Dr. Charles Pascal's Report on 'Early Learning' (2009) was to initiate a new era for Early Learning in Ontario. Proponents quickly applauded the initiative, Ministry of EducationThe Globe & Mail,and Wonder Moms. With the 3-5 year phase in of the program beginning in the fall of 2010 the first major hurdle/roadblock arose, the running and funding of the before and after school programs, the Globe & Mail,  'Failing Grade'. Were schools and school board prepared to run these programs? The government was slow with announcing (adequate) funding. Many boards stepped back from this initiative. The idea of seamless programming was removing childcare centres and other partnerships (YMCA, Early Years/Best Start) out of the picture. Could not these partnership be enhanced to meet the programs needs? Down the road & not overly publicized with the implementation of the FDK/ELP is the move for the Ministry of Education to provide both education and social services ( and all) for children 0-12. The school was to be developing into the 'Hub' of the Community for children. This included removing and incorporating the corresponding Ministry's / Agencies / Departments and funding into the Education Ministry. Or the plans to bring 3 year olds into FDK/ELP. Has the government made a radical move or is it moving too much too quickly? For some yes. Are 3 & 4 and even 5 year olds ready for this? Emotionally, Physically, Socially? 'Good Intentions' make the case that children learn things at certain stages of their life. Is there a stigma if you don't enroll your child in FDK, even though school is optional until age 6? 'Your child will be behind.' Look at Finland, everyones reference, poster child, these days. Are we removing the joys and tribulations of parenting and placing them in the hands of teachers and ECEs? Would/could universal childcare not serve the same purpose with similar results? Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate has an interesting perspective on parenting. The more parents are removed from the children's upbringing and placed with their peers, the more they depend & relate to their peers than their parents. I am hoping that the FDK/ELP is only having Growing Pains and the Ministry will take the time, plan and implement properly and provide adequate/long-term funding to make it work. I am maybe way off base here but I am trying.

These are the views of the author and are not representative of those of the AMDSB.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Your Words. My Words

The acquisition of knowledge used to be only by word of mouth, then came books, then computers and the internet and now the joy of twitter. The exchange of information and ideas these days is endless as is the amount of information out there. Twitter has opened a whole new world to me. The freethinking, the collaboration, the respect amongst the tweeps is refreshing. (At least the 300 I presently follow.) The knowledge and insight I have gained in the area of education is bountiful. Whether it be @SirKenRobinson, @pmcash, @dougpete, @KimMcGill, @gcouros, or the many others (not to offend any of you) the thoughts and articles they write make you think and inform you. When one's words make you think I ask myself would I every be able to write something like that?

All too often when I write and ultimately when I speak, I reference others. You will notice the majority of my tweets are retweets or my blog articles are filled with links. (I like letting people know what is happening and why.) Do I not have any original thoughts of my own? Am I too afraid/self-confident to let my thoughts be known? . Here is an example: I can't remember who's tweets or articles I read these from. 'Just Do It' and 'Don't Be Afraid to Fail'. Those two articles helped to bring me to where I am now, tweeting & blogging as a School Board Trustee. 'Just Do It', if you don't start, you can never finish or accomplish anything, whether big or small. Right now I have started something big. 'Don't Be Afraid to Fail', you always can learn from your mistakes and don't let your failures stop you from moving forward. Don't be afraid to start something for fear of failure. When you are surrounded by people who are knowledgeable and care, they are there to assist you and the failures are few.

Someday I may write that original tweet or compose that thought provoking article. For now My Words maybe Your Words but they are Good Words.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parent Involvement II

Some articles seem to hit a cord and 'Frazzled Moms Push Back Against Volunteering' did just that with me. What do parents do when they reach the 'I can't take it anymore' point? 'I have done my time.' 'I did my share.' 'Who will step up, if I quit?' 'I am too busy.' As volunteers we have all heard this from our fellow cohorts and probably from ourselves as well. When do the other 80% take on our 80% of the work? Does it come down to prioritizing where we place our energy in the school community and where the school wants our energy? Focusing My Energy reflects on that. What role should parents being playing in school? What role does the school want us playing? The Ministry of Education outlines the roles and responsibilities and scope of School Councils. At times though we wonder why we are there? Is our time being put to good use? Does our input matter? This Parents for Education article questions parents as partners. All too often parents and School Councils are trying to find that happy niche to play in their school. Are we there as volunteers in the classroom, fundraisers, workers, consultants, developers? Work on finding that niche for you and the Council but stay within your comfort zone and that of those around you. We all are there for the betterment of the school and its (our) children. It doesn't hurt to step back and look at things. A new or different approach or direction or that talk maybe all that is needed before saying, 'I quit.'