- What is the Parent Voice in Education Project?
- How were the members of the project group chosen?
- What is the mandate of the project group?
- How can parents get involved?
- What is a Corresponding associate?
- How will this review affect school councils?
- What is the Ontario Parent Council?
What is the Parent Voice in Education Project?
On November 6, 2004, Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy announced that the government is working towards establishing a new, representative organization to give parents a stronger voice on education issues at the provincial level. The group is also expected to provide recommendations on strategies to increase parent involvement and participation in the education system at the local, regional and provincial levels, as well as increase individual parent involvement in their children’s education.
Chaired by Gabrielle Blais, the group consists of 20 people — a cross-section of parents from all regions in the province — who also have expertise in parent leadership. Kathleen Wynne, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, will support the interim working group throughout the parent-driven process. Parents will be given many opportunities to share their ideas with the project group over the next few months.
How were the members of the project group chosen?
In selecting the group for this task, special care was given to making them as representative a body as possible. Recognizing the diversity of our school communities, we took a number of factors into consideration. We wanted to make sure that parents from as many school boards, in as many varying geographic areas as possible were brought in. We also wanted to include parents who reflected the differences among our students’ families culturally and linguistically. We wanted to bring in parents who had expertise in specialized areas, such as literacy, new Canadians and special education. And most importantly, we wanted to bring in individuals who brought commitment to their own communities and a shared vision for what education can be. They are individuals who are active in their school communities, have expertise in parent leadership and are committed to strengthening the voice of parents at the local and provincial level.
What is the mandate of the project group?
The group has been asked to consult with parents in order to make recommendations on how to create an independent and representative province-wide parent body. It is also expected to provide recommendations on strategies to increase parent involvement and participation in the education system at the local, regional and provincial levels, as well as increase individual parent involvement in their children’s education.
Research shows that children do better in school when parents are involved in their education. They have better attendance, lower drop out rates and higher rates of achievement. At the school level, we know that some parents are involved in every aspect of school life. We need to find ways to encourage all parents to become involved. And in order for our school system to thrive, we need to have parent involvement and participation at the board level, and the provincial level.
How can parents get involved?
The project will develop a variety of ways in which parents can share their ideas and advice. Parents can sign up to be Corresponding associates by mail or email. There will also be many opportunities to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
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What is a Corresponding associate?
Among parents is a vast and untapped reserve of knowledge, experience and ideas. We need a place where all of this can be utilized for the benefit of all. It is critical for parents to be involved in this project because we want to hear from the frontline on what’s working and what isn’t. Corresponding associates will receive minutes of meetings and draft materials. These individuals will be asked to share their ideas and insights on issues related to the review and the group may draw on their expertise
How will this review affect school councils?
The current system of school councils – where every school elects a school council, made up of a majority of parents, to advise on student achievement and school performance – will not be affected during the review. They will most likely be asked for their input on a wide range of parent involvement issues.
Ontario’s publicly funded schools have a rich tradition of parental and community involvement. Increased parental involvement in their children’s education through mandatory school councils was first proposed by the Royal Commission on Learning in its January 1995 report, For the Love of Learning. In response, the government directed school boards to establish school councils in their schools by the end of June 1996. In 1999, the province released regulations confirming and clarifying the advisory role of school councils.
What is the Ontario Parent Council?
The Ontario Parent Council (OPC) was established in 1993. Its mandate under the Education Act is to advise the Minister of Education on issues that concern the parents of elementary and secondary school students in Ontario, and to increase parents’ participation in the education of their children. The Parent Voice in Education project will build on the work done by the OPC.
Creating a strong representative voice for parents at the provincial level is key to strengthening our publicly funded education system and improving student achievement. Parents are busy – we need a new, effective way to engage them in their children’s education and the education system as a whole. They also deserve a seat at the table, which is why we’ve established a working group of parents to make recommendations on how best to engage and represent parents locally and provincially.