Cuts, freezes and protections for education introduced in the 2012 Ontario provincial budget are not sitting well with some of the province’s partners in education.

While the province has chosen to protect small class sizes, full-day kindergarten and almost 20,000 teaching and support staff jobs in its austerity budget presented March 27, the government is also calling for the closure of under-utilized schools and potential board amalgamations to maximize resources.

Nancy Kirby, Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association president, acknowledges the importance of early childhood education, but said going “ahead with full-day kindergarten on the same timeline ... is an expensive decision.”

Published in Education

TORONTO - Students who suffer concussions should not only be removed from sports but also be excused from class until they heal, according to the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA).

Bob Murray, the OCSTA director of legislative and political affairs, is urging the Ontario government to include full curriculum exemption into Bill 39. The bill proposes that school boards be required to develop policies to deal with students who suffer brain trauma from concussions.

“You need to be removed from the classroom to let your brain get what is referred to as cognitive rest,” said Murray. “Even the regular classroom can have profound effects on the brain if a person hasn’t received the rest they need. They should be removed from all curriculum in order to properly heal the head injury.” 

Published in Education
February 28, 2012

Anonymity and ignorance

On Feb. 17, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision on a case that tested the right of parents to exempt their children from Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course. The case attracted many intervenors because the decision could impact other cases that question the lengths government can go to impose curriculum against parental wishes.

About one month earlier, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association released a report, “Respecting Difference,” which set guidelines for promoting equity and respect for all students in Catholic schools. It followed months of controversy surrounding “gay-straight alliances” in Ontario’s publicly funded schools. While there are differences between the two scenarios, both concern a provincial government trying to impose a school policy despite objections from parents.

Published in Joanne McGarry

TORONTO - Full-day kindergarten may be off limits to the Drummond chainsaw, but Ontario’s Catholic schools are still bracing for a lean season.

The Drummond Commission On the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services was commissioned by Premier Dalton McGuinty and released Feb. 15. In it, TD Bank chief economist Don Drummond recommends dozens of cuts to education funding. That’s never good news for Catholic schools, said Paul Whitehead, Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association senior policy advisor for finance. Less money means less flexibility for school boards.

Published in Education

TORONTO - The union representing 45,000 Ontario Catholic teachers has no objection to gay-straight alliances operating in Catholic schools. The Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association says GSA format as developed in the United States is in conflict with Catholic teaching, and that anti-homophobia clubs in Catholic schools should be called Respecting Difference.

Both sides say there is no conflict between these two positions.

"There's really no difference between OECTA's stance and our stance on serving the needs of all of our students, including those with same-sex attraction or gender-identity issues," said OCSTA president Nancy Kirby.

Published in Education
January 31, 2012

No to all bullying

Catholic educators have responded to the controversial anti-bullying initiatives of the Ontario government by politely but firmly indicating they won’t be bullied. Bravo!

The response came from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association in a comprehensive document titled “Respecting Difference” that articulates the Catholic perspective on an issue that has become unnecessarily controversial. With input from trustees, bishops, educators and parents, the document exhibits compassion, clarity and resolve as it addresses bullying uniformly, rather than elevating one type of bullying above others.

It should be required reading for all educators.

Published in Editorial

A battle is looming between the Ontario government and Catholic schools after the Education Minister rejected a key component of a new anti-bullying policy from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA).

Laurel Broten is insisting that Catholic schools permit single-issue clubs such as gay-straight alliances despite the OCSTA’s outright rejection of such groups in a long-awaited document titled Respecting Differences.

Released Jan. 25, Respecting Difference affirms the Catholic identity of Catholic schools by stating that all clubs and activities must be “respectful of and consistent with Catholic teaching.” The document follows the Accepting Schools Act introduced last November by the minority Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty that would require all schools to accommodate gay-straight alliances or similar clubs under a different name.

Published in Education
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