Globe’s Radwanski thinks McGuinty’s “education record” key to re-election in 2011

What is it about so many Canadian professional journalists that they feel they have to continually promote Liberal governments, even when they are doing a bad job of governing? And, yes, the McGuinty-led Liberals have done a bad job of governing Ontario, particularly given the number of e-Health-like boondoggles, wind energy and other money sucking green initiatives, the HST and other tax increases (e.g. the health premium and eco-taxes come to mind), as well as ever rising hydro rates. In fact, the Ontario Liberals have taken Ontario from “have” to “have not” status in just a few years, requiring equalization payments be returned to Queen’s Park. Meaning, that Ontario is no longer the economic engine of Canada. 

Yet, plugging for the Ontario Liberal Party is exactly what Adam Radwanski seems to be attempting in today’s Globe and Mail (H/T Catherine). I say “seems to be attempting” because, while he does provide several reasons for the McGuinty Liberal government to stress their record on education in order to get re-elected in October 2011, he also presents several caveats as to why that may not happen.  And, on those points, I would agree.

Endnote: Post shortened on Friday, December 23rd, 2010. C/P at Jack’s Newswatch.

Cancelling “key” to Early Learning Program another McGuinty flip-flop

As this ParentCentral article states, the McGuinty government has just flip-flopped on another major promise. Yet, I have to admit that even I was surprised to hear that the Ontario Liberals will be withdrawing the demand that Ontario public school boards run before and after school day care programs — meant to operate in conjunction with the full-day kindergarten, now called the Early Learning Program (ELP).  (H/T Catherine).

Remember, it was only a year ago that the ELP was announced with great fan fare — something I, and other CotM regulars, were sceptical about all along. First, parents already had day care arrangements. Second, existing private and non-profit day care operators were going to be put out of business. Third, it was going to cost billions of additional tax dollars, in the middle of a recession, for more teachers and Early Childhood Educators. And, fourth, and just as important as the other reasons, it became obvious very early on that many communities, particularly rural jurisdictions, simply didn’t want to change the services they already offered.

So, what brought on this policy in the first place? Well, we need look no further than the Charles Pascal report. As the province’s “Early Learning Advisor,” he recommended that schools become community hubs by providing early learning from birth right through to full-day schooling.  For Dr. Pascal’s specific guidelines, simply click on the “early learning summary of evidence” highlighted link.

Now, to be fair, its true that some public boards of education will simply continue to run their before and after school day care programs because they are already operated by for-profit or non-profit day care groups (like the WMCA).  However, the boards won’t be compelled to set up an entirely new infrastructure and the human resources that would go with it.

Now, the big question is:  Going into 2011 and the looming Ontario election, will this flip-flop help the Ontario Liberals? No, it won’t. In fact, my guess is that, given the majority of the comments at ParentCentral, it will actually do just the opposite. People are just plain fed up with the so-called “education” premier and a government that only knows how to tax, spend money and make changes, all the while assuming Ontarians are patient and have bottomless pockets of cash.

Well, given that this turn-around is going to disrupt thousands of lives, it’s probably the last straw that will almost certainly guarantee a change of government in October of 2011 — to the Ontario PC Party.

Oh, and one more thing. Given that Ontario PC Leader, Tim Hudak made it clear, that eliminating the before and after day care component of the ELP was exactly what his government would do, if elected, we can almost guarantee that the PC Party will not release an election platform any time soon. Because, to do so would simply ensure that the Ontario Liberals either criticize its policy ideas or steal them outright.

Would Hudak’s Ont PC’s provide real choice re kindergarten?

Interesting that in ParentCentral.ca magazine,  the Ontario McGuinty Liberals are now trying to convince parents that they actually do have a “choice” regarding participation in the full-day kindergarten. Clearly that is not the case at all. In fact, their options are only that their young children either attend or not attend — since kindergarten is not compulsory in Ontario. Some choice that is. In fact, that is no choice at all. Parents either do it the McGuinty government’s way or not at all.

Instead, choice should have been half-day versus full-day kindergarten — which was what Premier Dalton McGuinty originally promised. Meaning, another broken promise.  Well, if the mayoralty race in Toronto is any indication, Ontarians are not going to simply say “okay sir, anything you say sir.” Meaning, the Ontario Liberals are going to go down to defeat in the provincial election of October 2011 in a big way — a way that they, in their current mode of arrogance and entitlement, simply seem to have no idea how bad it is going to be.  
Continue reading “Would Hudak’s Ont PC’s provide real choice re kindergarten?”

ETFO campaign for ECE a conflict of interest?

Whether the acronym is ECE, which stands for “Early Childhood Educator” or ELE “Early Learning Educator,” those individuals who are trained to teach children under the age of five are going to be the glue that holds the new Ontario early learning program (ELP) or full-day JK/SK program together.

So, it is interesting that up until the ELP was approved by the Ontario McGuinty government, ETFO went out of its way to  suggest that only teachers with elementary qualifications (ETFO’s current member group) should be in charge of the full-day JK/SK in order to facilitate the transition to regular school. 

In fact, that was the rationale  the government gave when it announced that its new full day ELP would be staff by “qualified” teachers all day long, with ECE qualified individuals providing back-up for part of the day — but always under the jurisdiction of the teacher.

So, it is puzzling now that ETFO has mounted a serious campaign to suggest they would be the best union to represent ECE staff, particularly since CUPE currently covers most, if not all, public sector childcare workers. 

In other words, I have major concerns about the same union representing both qualified elementary school teachers and ECE staff. I mean, clearly when push comes to shove, would not ETFO favour its first priority and mandate, and that is the interests of elementary school teachers? If so, there is the potential for a serious conflict of interest for those who are early childhood specialists.

Surely something for those with ECE qualifications to think about.

Endnotes:

Ontario’s full-day JK/SK “only” option divisive

Update: It has occurred to me that Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Ontario Liberals are using the same divisive strategy that the federal Liberals under Michael Ignatieff are using and what Levant is calling the “Graves Strategy.” In McGuinty’s case, he introduces a full-day JK/SK program but says “don’t worry, be happy,” parents can still choose the half-day if they want. Now, we find out that is not the case at all. In fact, before too long, the full-day JK/SK will be compulsory. If parents don’t like that they can keep their young children at home until Grade one. 

Then, this week they try to sneak in a sex education curriculum and when the Premier has to back track, he blames Christians and fundamentalists. In other words, the divide and conquer approach seems to be the Liberal way. If anyone complains, they are homophobes, anti-immigrant, anti-progressive or stay at home parents who simply don’t count. Disgusting!

Original post starts here: Ontario MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) is right to sound the alarm that once the Early Learning Program (ELP) (aka full-day JK/SK kindergarten) is implemented in Ontario public schools, parents will NOT have the choice between a half-day program and a full-day program. Rather, the choice — which isn’t really a choice for parents — will be for their child to either participate in the full-day program or remain at home until they are six years old.

Continue reading “Ontario’s full-day JK/SK “only” option divisive”

Consequences of Ontario’s ELP/full-day JK/SK

The headline at ParentCentral.ca reads: “Daycare system near collapse, advocates say” and states (h/t Jack’s Newswatch): “The loss of $63.5 million in federal child care cash next month and the fall launch of all-day kindergarten for 4- and 5-year olds is creating the ‘perfect storm’ in Ontario’s child care system, advocates warn.”

Am I surprised? No, not at all. In fact, since the Ontario legislature passed legislation to implement Ontario’s early learning program — referred to as either the ELP or full-day kindergarten — I have been writing that, while it was a good idea in principle, it likely was going to be a financial boondoggle with many unintended consequences.

So, does Premier McGuinty blame the timing of the implementation of the ELP for the reason there is a perfect storm? No he doesn’t. When questioned recently in the legislature by NDP leader Andrea Horwath, he said: “I call upon my colleague to join us in the efforts that we are making to convince the federal government that they should restore that funding on a permanent basis.”

So, now it is somehow the Conservative federal government’s fault that the McGuinty government didn’t weight all the potential consequences of implementing the ELP in 2010, even though they have known for four years that the federal cash would run out in the same year. In other words, the McGuinty government has no one to blame for the pending “perfect storm” then themselves.

c/p Jack’s Newswatch.

Not all communities like Ontario’s full-day kindergarten

While there is no doubt most parents and childcare providers in Ontario’s larger centres are delighted with the pending full-day junior and senior kindergarten program — usually referred to as the “Early Learning Program” or ELP — many in smaller and rural communities are not.

Why? Because, whether intentional or not, the ELP will:

  1. Put hundreds of private and regional subsidized daycare centres out of business;
  2. Mean huge Early Childhood Educator (ECE) job losses that won’t necessarily be translated into ELP positions, and
  3. Result in parents actually having fewer childcare choices than they have now.

For example, read this article by Scott Dunn in the Owen Sound Sun Times. The title says it all: “Parents, care providers dislike kindergarten change — Bluewater Board plan criticized for making scheduling more difficult” (h/t Catherine).

Now, I am not against the ELP per se. Most parents I have talked to are excited about it. My problem is its universal nature and the timing of its implementation —  a time when there should be a freeze on new spending rather than spending on new, plush programs.

However, as is usually the case with anything the McGuinty Liberal government does, it’s full speed ahead and damn the torpedos regardless of a $25 billion and ever climbing deficit. Instead, the government has committed to spending taxpayers dollars they don’t have on a long-term program that will involve highly paid unionized workers — and all that implies.