What a day to be ill. Life has a coincidental way of unraveling itself.
Tuesday was the big day, the day details on the implementation of the "Early Learning Program," the most recent government jargon for full-day kindergarten, was rolled out by Premier Dalton McGuinty and Education Minister Kathleen Wynne in Toronto. As usual, no shortage of media coverage, although I'll note with some interest Tyler Kula at the Sarnia Observer was one of the first clips I saw Tuesday to spell out for his readers what the first year of the roll out would mean for his readers: roughly a dozen schools.
Of note, Moira MacDonald chimes in today as well, noting the financials of the implementation decision over the other factors.
The ministry released a so-called "B-memo" yesterday to all school boards, accompanied by a series of appendices: board-by-board allocations, board-by-board funding, breakdown of the benchmark, site selection criteria and deputy minister's memo.
If anything, the ministry documents show the prep work and thought that has gone into implementation. Boards are being told to consult and plan where the first spaces will open and they have to show the ministry how they made those decisions. The good boards are already a few steps ahead on this sort of consultations -- particularly those who got further ahead in Best Start implementation before the program was axed in 2006.
My one disappointment?
I'm happy to see the mix of teachers and ECEs, but I think using both full-time goes beyond what Pascal intended in his recommendations.
Overall, Tuesday was an important step-- now the grunt work is out of the government's hands to some extent and in the hands of school boards to implement the first two years of this program. The successes and failures are going to be very closely watched, particularly with a provincial election in the fall of 2011. The full roll out of this program will be dependent on whoever is in government after 2011, so its first two years are critical to its overall survival.
I reject the argument of those who call for this program to be trimmed or axed in the face of the mounting deficit. It doesn't mean I'm not as worried about the deficit as everyone else, but this is and should be a priority program whose need has been proven. Abandoning it now would be the wrong decision, and the government's decision to stick with it is one that should be remembered by every family with young children who chooses to enroll their four- or five-year-old child in this program in the years ahead.