Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Remember all the promises made about a new 'safe schools' program?

On October 9, 2014 “a precedent-setting task force involving labour and school boards has tabled 22 recommendations to make Ontario public elementary school communities healthier and safer places to work and learn.”  You can see the EFTO media release here: http://www.etfo.ca/MediaRoom/MediaReleases/Pages/Provincial%20Task%20Force%20Tables%2022%20Recommendations%20for%20Healthier,%20Safer%20School%20Communities.aspx

The EFTO MOU Task Force on Health and Safety – Report and Recommendations report can be viewed on the EFTO website.  Take the time to read the report as I did.  Among other things, I note that it was yet another labour intensive project without any information as to the cost to Ontario tax payers; the parents who support publicly funded education with their hard earned tax dollars; the very individuals who were, yet again, not at the table and part of this task force. 

The report looks impressive, and the recommendations are good ones, but I found it leaned almost entirely towards EFTO members as opposed to a healthy and safer school culture. “The health and safety culture in school boards should encompass a whole school approach.  A whole school approach is one where everyone is committed to a positive health and safety culture.  This provides a framework for schools to be safe, secure, healthy and supportive working and learning environments.”  I find this to be very disconcerting as the very union involved in this task force, contains the same individuals who insist that aggressive situations among their students do not take place; the very individuals who parents are suing in a court of law for lack of due diligence for keeping their children safe while at school; the very individuals who cannot advise me how many schools have a safe and accepting schools team in place because the PPM’s quoted in the report don’t mandate that this information must be reported back to the Ministry of Education. 

Page 8 of the report references the all-encompassing PPM’s that are thrown into parents’ faces.  PPM 144 states “each school must have in place a safe and accepting schools team, responsible for fostering a safe, inclusive, and accepting school climate…..”.  In a Freedom of Information Request I was advised that “It is the expectation that all schools have a safe schools team in place.  There was no requirement to report this and therefore there is no record.” The statement that each school must have a safe and accepting schools team is now redundant.

Will the Ministry of Education have oversight of the 22 recommendations because it has no oversight of the content set forth in the PPM’s that they produce?  If the answer is yes, then it will validate that their emphasis is on union members as opposed to students.  

Dr. Pushor prepared a research paper “Parent Engagement: Creating a Shared World” wherein a clear differentiation is made between parent “involvement” and parent “engagement”.  Dr. Pushor states “With parent involvement, the scripted story of school as protectorate does not change.  Because the school is still setting the agenda and determining what roles parents are to play within that agenda; the hierarchical structure of educators as experts, acting in the best interests of the less-knowing parents, is maintained.”

This needs to change.