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Money well spent?

March 3, 2009

It amazes me how money is spent in the education system here in Ontario.  Policies are set at the Ministry of Education by groups of individuals far removed from the classroom.  These policies are then pushed upon the school boards who in turn push the same upon the teachers, who are then supposed to implement the policies in their respective classrooms.

The school boards rarely question the policies since the Ministry attaches budgetary money to them.  For example, when money is provided for a particular initiative, it is always spent in its entirety whether the particular initiative is really needed or not.  I remember several initiatives over the past few years dealing with “at risk” students or “children of promise” as we were directed to call them.  My principal at the time put statistics up at a staff meeting to demonstrate the need for these initiatives.  After some simple number crunching, a few of us determined that our “children of promise” were roughly 2-3% of the total student population.  Not bad if you ask me!

However, the money attached to the government initiatives was considerable and we proceeded to spend ALL of it on programs that we essentially did not need.  I am not trying to say that the “children of promise” did not deserve our attention.  What I am trying to say is that we were being forced to spend a lot of money on a tiny minority within our school when there were far greater needs that should have been addressed.

The method in which our funds are earmarked is creating a situation whereby we are changing and adapting to the new ideas in education at a snails pace.  Our schools should receive ALL of the funding money allotted per student and the school council should decide how to spend it.  If it is decided that the “children of promise” are indeed a priority, then so be it.

I want my school to be a place where technology is used to enhance student learning and engage students in a manner that stimulates their ability to think critically and express themselves.  I want our students to leave high school feeling confident about their future and ready to take on any challenge that faces them.  To accomplish this, we need a school system that is in tune with this Flat World we live in and prepares students for it.

Instead, we have a system that is rife with bureaucracy and is lacking an agent of change.

I can’t fathom who the agent of change will be or when they will ever emerge but I do know that when the time comes I may finally be able to embrace an initiative and consider it money well spent!

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