Tuesday, September 22, 2009

G&M on full-day kindergarten

Adam Radwanski's piece in Monday's Globe and Mail touched on the options at the McGuinty government's feet when it comes to implementing full-day kindergarten in Ontario. The first phase of this implementation is set for September 2010, about a year before the next provincial election campaign begins in the fall of 2011. From the piece:

At some point, the government will need to ramp up its spending commitment, or else some of today's toddlers may have children of their own before their schools have been expanded. But for future generations, a gradual phase-in may prove a blessing, since there is a strong element of trial-by-error to all this. Over the next few years, officials will be taking notes on everything from cost containment to curriculum to the allocation of human resources, and attempting to learn from their mistakes - of which, given the scramble to be ready for next year, there will probably be a good number.
Equally uncertain, until the phase-in has begun, will be the ripple effects. A particular concern among government officials is what effect full-day learning will have on private daycare services. If most of the four- and five-year-olds in an area are pulled out, will some of those centres be forced out of business, leaving children three and under stranded?
Ontario is entering uncharted territory with early childhood plans that will likely prove more ambitious than any that Canada has yet seen at a provincewide level. The slow pace won't thrill parents of children who will be too old to take advantage of the new services by the time they reach their areas. But over the next few years, Mr. McGuinty's government will be learning as much from its new education programs as the children enrolled in them.
He hits the nail on the head with some of his comments in regards to how this whole thing is going to be rolled out. While there was general commitment to fully implement Pascal's recommendations, the dollars being allocated will push that into the middle or end of the next decade, providing the government of the day remains supportive.
The impression I got from Pascal earlier this year was that he's OK with a staged, careful and possibly 'messy' implementation of his recommendations. Trial and error, etc., and constant re-evaluation will ensure the end goal remains in sight and can be reached eventually. It's more important to get it right than to rush towards it just to say it's been done.
H/T to Malkin over at the SQE blog.


Anonymous said...

At some point the public who is paying for all of this, plus a Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat are going to want something in return for their investment. I'm think that could be a graduated child fully literate and numerate?

Just where the money's coming from is a good question. The HST maybe?
Or, shortly after McGuinty gets in again, how about an Education Premium. I mean parents right now are raising millions for their local schools without even being asked, so they'd be ok with a tax right?

Question: Do we need a measure in place like EQAO to prove this?

There seems to be a ramping up of a call to nix the EQAO...(not going to happen any time soon, as long as gov't can use it to their advantage come election time).

Good for students? I believe so, but we need to grow our own proof right here in Ontario.

RetDir said...

The biggest issue remains who is 'teaching' this program - ETFO members, or a combination of ECE and ETFO members. Personally, I prefer the latter, but the rumour mill has the former happening...

Anonymous said...

Just what the ETFO needs yet again...a fight with the ECEs. Anyone else that they want to pick a fight with because they're running out of options.

Education Reporter said...

I really don't understand what the first comment has to do with this post.

As to ETFO-ECE... I'm with Pascal on this one: Whatever adult has the best background in early childhood development. Teachers' colleges don't teach this. Teachers learn it through experience and board-level professional development or external additional qualification (AQ) courses.
Early childhood educators learn about early childhood development. Child care centres (the good ones) employ ECEs who design programs for learning for young children.

Sure, ECEs are paid 2/3 or less of teacher-scale salaries. That doesn't mean they're any less qualified than teachers to run this program-- in fact, graduate-to-graduate, ECEs have the better toolkit the day they pick up their diploma than teachers do the day they pick up their degrees.

One would hope, particularly after this last round of bargaining where they lost salary parity for their members, that ETFO would play nice and just shut up on this one.

The Ontario College of Teachers has WAY more credibility on this issue than ETFO does, IMO.

RetDir said...

Note that Jim Grieve, current director in Peel, has announced his retirement in order to run this initiative. This is very good news as he has been passionate about early childhood for years.

Anonymous said...

"he has been passionate about early childhood for years."

so too have those ECE grads, independent daycare providers and parents who make the decision to stay home to nurture that early childhood.

Education Reporter said...

Hey Anon 10:30 -- This isn't a mandatory program. Those "ECE grads, independent daycare providers and parents who make the decision to stay home" will still be able to do so.


Anonymous said...

You're right ER. I just don't think that certified educators or directors hold a premium on passion for early childhood(learning). It can come in many different packages and through different choices.