There are provincial elections this fall in several provinces with a couple more possible in the spring of 2012. Provinces are responsible for providing high quality public education, and elections are a good time to remind Canadian voters of several facts about education in this country:
- Canada has one of the best school systems in the world; we perform very well in all international comparisons both on the quality of students’ work and in having less inequity in education than do many other countries. In particular, we significantly outperform the U S, our main economic partner. However we cannot be complacent. Education is a field in which one could always do better and there are still many Canadian students, in particular those from poor families or some minority groups, who are not reaching the levels of education we would want them to have. So while we should be very proud of our schools, we should also be striving for continued improvement; we can do even better.
- While nobody knows for certain why our system performs so well, among the likely factors are skilled and committed teachers, a well resourced system that does not have large inequities in funding or in human capital, and supportive economic and social programs for parents and families.
- In general, Canada has a long tradition of partnership and collaborative work among governments, school boards, teachers, parents and the broader community. Education systems do best for children when stakeholders develop and agree on goals for public education, and when conflict is minimized and differences are resolved through dialogue.
- Improvement in outcomes for all children requires systematic attention to helping educators steadily improve their work. The international evidence shows that single and simple measures such as more competition or more testing do not themselves improve outcomes.
- Canadians should be asking political parties and provincial governments for sustained and comprehensive strategies that will:
- focus on raising achievement for all students while also working to reduce the gaps in achievement among different groups
- help our educators continue to strengthen their skills
- maintain a positive and collaborative approach to education policy and practice that will attract and retain skilled and committed staff
- ensure that education policy is consistent with the best available research evidence
- provide regular public information on the progress of the education system
Governments that adopt this approach to education are most likely to generate good outcomes for all children, thus meeting the country’s needs and the desires of citizens.
- Ruth Baumann
- Harold Brathwaite, Executive Director, The Retired Teachers of Ontario
- Ron Canuel, CEO, Canadian Education Association
- Gerry Connelly, Co Director Education Sustainability Development Academy, York University
- Lorna Earl, Director, Aporia Consulting Ltd. and President of the International Congress of School Effectiveness and School Improvement
- Sue Ferguson, Coordinator, The Learning Consortium, Ontario Institute of Studies in Education
- Kathleen Gallagher, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Jane Gaskell, Professor and former dean, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Avis Glaze, President, Edu-quest International Inc.
- Joan M. Green, Former Director of Education, Founding CEO of EQAO, International Consultant on Public Policy and Performance
- Bill Hogarth, Retired Director of Education, Education Consultant
- Ken Leithwood, Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Ben Levin, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Penny Milton, former CEO, Canadian Education Association
- Karen Mundy, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Charles E. Pascal, Professor, University of Toronto, Former Ontario Deputy Minister of Education
- Jim Slotta, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
- Charles Ungerleider, Professor Sociology of Education (The University of British Columbia) and Director Research (Directions Evidence and Policy Research Group, LLP.)
The Facts in Education panel is a group of education leaders and researchers that works to ensure that media reporting of education in Canada is accurate and factual. For more information, please visit http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/rspe/Facts_in_Education.