Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FDK roundup

The past week has been a big week for full-day kindergarten in Ontario, with the province's announcement of another 900 schools that will host the program starting in the third year of its implementation in September 2012.
The coverage has been virtually provincewide, as every media outlet reported on the schools in their coverage area that would host the program's third phase. The running total on the number of schools that will have the program by September 2012 is approximately half of all publicly funded elementary schools in the province.
Some notable coverage that jumped out at me-- likely because it went beyond just listing school names and a program description:
There are still questions. While some capital has been committed to help boards cope with creating the needed space (most of which will be renovating existing vacant classrooms, I would suspect, or tacking on classrooms to planned new construction), the most challenging schools in this respect are many of the ones that have been left in year four and five of the implementation. The QMI editorial glosses over this without a competent understanding that boards won't spend this money unless they get it from the province in some form or other.
Probably the biggest element is that the government can't be flamed every time it makes an adjustment to its original plan during this five-year implementation. Giving flexibility to address existing children's services agencies' offerings in schools and the reality of program implementation in remote regions shouldn't equal getting tarred and feathered for 'flip-flopping.'
That said, I did think it rich that Progressive Conservative education critic (and the party's last education minister) Elizabeth Witmer was trying to get mileage out of slamming the Liberal line that Conservatives would kill off implementing the rest of the program. For a party that has only made vehicular references ("Cadillac program") to the full-day kindergarten program it was a bit much to critique the Liberals' attempts to paint Tory policy. Especially when, to its credit, the government was talking full-day kindergarten consistently last Wednesday while the opposition was moaning about hydro. I guess they didn't get the memo, so the response could only come the following day.
Leaving  the program at 50% implementation would be a disaster. Let's see what alternatives, if any, arise in the coming months.
With all the coverage, I'm still not seeing anything substantial that comes back to the families who spoke to the media in September when the kiddies started school. I'm also not seeing anything that attempts to describe play-based learning.
Somewhat related, I started working on something fun related to this yesterday. I'll unveil it here when it's done.


Anonymous said...

On a personal level I'm not necessarily opposed to FDK, however I do get the feeling it was pushed through without a comprehensive understanding of the details or costs involved in fully implementing it. It appears the Liberals got caught up in it on the conceptual level and didn't consider the details.

I suspect diverting away from what Charles Pascal recommended also added some uncertainty to implementation.

I agree that the Con's plan to freeze things in mid-implementation is wrongheaded if for no other reason than it creates a two tier system; those who have it and those who don't.
Pretty hard to spin that to those who don't receive it as a good thing.

Anonymous said...

that whole "two-tiered system" thing is really tiring Anon. We have a multi-tiered system already even without the ELP.

It's a big province and I suspect that the gov't gave little thought to those places where the demographics make this an unnecessary and unaffordable and impractical for small/rural boards.

It was definitely conceived for winning the urban vote.

Anonymous said...

Actually I was referring specifically to the Con's plan to freeze the ELP program. I agree fully that levels of service vary widely across the province.

FWIW, I'm pretty sceptical on the federal Liberal childcare plan for many of the same reasons "accessible, universal, affordable, etc. That'd require it to be a 24/7/equal access to urban and rural, massively subsidized obligation. I think it speaks volumes that the Libs are entirely unwilling to release the details of what they claim to be advocating.

Education Reporter said...

Hey all:

Just in a summary response, I've been working on something that will show in a more graphical form just where all the announced FDK sites are across the province. So far, the distribution looks quite even (proportionally) between regions / urban / rural / etc. Certainly, there are more urban sites, but overall there are also more urban schools, hence the proportional part of my comment. It's a full analysis I may not complete before ending the fellowship, so I hope it's worth it.