Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh, boy

Holy crap there was a lot of media in the past two days on the Toronto District School Board director of education Chris Spence's musings about an all-boys' school within his board. Even the special interests are jumping in-- the Society for Quality Education blasted its contacts by e-mail today with its reaction (positive) and I'm expecting others who run the spectrum will be chiming in as well.
Is this proposal, which would entirely segregate the school based on boys only and not just boys' only classes or specific grades / programs, any different from the afro-centric school that's already open within the TDSB?
Will it address the "achievement gap" between boys and girls in the public education system?
The data is there to prove it does exist and that boys have not handled the changes in the way reading, writing and math are taught as well as the fairer sex. The success rates for boys do increase, but not as high or as dramatically as those for girls increase.
There have been some programs at public schools (CBC's The National went back to a graduate of one in York Region, CBC featured a Hamilton one in a six o'clock newscast), but this would the first where the entire facility is for boys only.
Is this up there with former minister Gerard Kennedy's musings, supported by Ontario College of Teachers content, that boys would do better if they had more men as teachers? Regardless of his feelings, the split between the genders in teaching hasn't changed since he said it.
It's a concept worth investigating.
The danger is creating a board with too many "alternate" schools. Ottawa-Carleton got into this trouble a few years ago when a budget facilitator recommended cutting down on the number of magnet-type school locations and allowing for the programs parents were choosing to exist in smaller groupings across a larger number of sites. That board was seen to be spending too much to bus students from every part of the city to every other part of the city because Johnny wanted French immersion while Jane wanted an arts-focus. The facilitators recommended looking at offering as many programs as feasible in the community school to keep kids from being shipped all over the place based on programs.
Of course the way to simplify that quandry, if you go "school choice" all the way as already exists in some parts of the country, is to take away transportation. Parents can choose whatever school they want for their kids, but they find a way to get their darlings to the front door and home every day.


Anonymous said...

We don't have to look to other provinces to find alternatives in the public system ER. It's happening already right here in Ontario in some school boards.

We've talked about it here before.

Parents already go to great lengths to get their children to the school they want within the public system.

Dalton did it. Parents will do whatever it takes to get their kids the education they need.

Anonymous said...

My public school board offers alternative learning to kids who don't do well in a regular classroom.
Nothing wrong with that, which is what Spence is suggesting.

The more choice for parents and students the better.

The hypocrisy of those in positions of high profile be able to make choices for their kids because they can while, insisting on local schools for others is stunning and contradictory.

Education Reporter said...

The reference to other provinces was for Alberta-- Edmonton and Calgary are known for their voucher/charter school system, particularly in high schools. There are pretty much no attendance areas and schools compete for students from across the city.


RetDir said...

I was curious about this, so went to the Alberta Ed website. Of the 13 charter schools in Alberta (, 9 are in Edmonton and Calgary, and 2 of the other four are for indigenous students. 2 are in rural or suburban areas. Choice inside school systems, independent of charter schools, is also largely an urban phenomenon because of the transportation issues, which also bedevil equity of secondary programs in rural boards.

educ8m said...

Well Education Director I lived in Alberta and pretty much outside of the two big cities EVERYTHING is rural.

There are no vouchers, but even private schools are funded to a degree. Homeschoolers get some modest money as well. Charter schools do NOT get any transportation money so that parents have to get their kids around town.

The largest, and most popular charter school in Calgary is Foundations for The Future Academy with FOUR campuses in the city to help the transporatation issue. The school is a traditional model school that uses lots of direct instruction. It has a waiting list of thousands. You would think that with that kind of desire, school board would offer what people actually wanted.

I also read the SQE stance on the boys' school idea and there is a big caveat--they should teach using methods that actually lead to literacy. Maybe if they did what that Foundations school does, we'd get somewhere.
"It's A Guy Thing"

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way, Mr. Kennedy attened one of the most elite boys' private schools in Winnipeg.

Just thought readers would like to know.

Anonymous said...

The beauty of charter schools in Alberta is that even in rural communities if we can meet the criteria and develop a sound business and education plan an independent community of teachers, parents and students can develop the school they wish and not come under the continual scrutiny of others.

Educ8m is also correct that the Alberta gov't is much more helpful to private and homeschoolers than is Ontario.

Ontario seems years behind even B.C. in recognizing parents and choice. Too bad because contrary to the hype it's worked well for us so far out here.