Monday, April 20, 2009

Where is Pascal's report?

This has been a nagging thought of late. After spending months inquiring about when the Declining Enrolment Working Group report would be released, I await the next promised strategic document. With some fanfare, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty appointed Dr. Charles Pascal in November 2007 to conduct a review and recommend the best way of implementing full-day learning for four- and five-year-old children across Ontario.
The initial time line, based solely on this reporter's memory, was that Pascal was to consult people across the province throughout the remainder of the 2007-08 school year and into this past fall if necessary. His consultations were reported on sparsely, although everyone with a stake in early learning had their say. The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario stepped forward to say only teachers -- their members -- should be considered adequate for the role of starting these youngsters along the path of formal education. The childcare providers, with their Early Childhood Educator staff members, indicated they're already doing a fine job in many cases with this same age group.
He was to report back in time to implement his recommendations for the 2010-11 school year, so the government could go to the electorate in the fall of 2011 with this early learning feather in its cap. So where's the report?
Interestingly, the Ontario Ministry of Education has basically told boards in its capital planning rules for the last year to ensure they're 'loading' all new construction based on full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds. This strongly suggests the location for this full-day learning will be in schools and not private (either for- or non-profit) childcare centres. Tell that to a child-care provider or a municipal child-care service manager and watch their reaction... it'll be an interesting one.
A recent e-mail exchange with the premier's office indicates Pascal's report is to be received "some time this spring," with no further details available on exact timing. Of course, the premier won't release the report until the government has prepared its response, which would likely involve cabinet consultation with ministers of education, children and youth and finance.