Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is When that Important?

In my recent blog post titled, “Student Success, Provincial Failure” I described that I would like to add some prescriptions to what I view as the problems with the Ontario public education system. First, before I go on I want to point out that not all aspects of Student Success are objectionable, in my view. Aspects do have merit.

The mission of the Ontario government at present is to increase the number of graduates, as part of this strategy the government made it very difficult for students to leave high school. Previously students could drop out at age 16, and it has since been upped to 18. This was years ago, but the point is the same. Some students are not ready for a high school education in their adolescents. A combination of life circumstances, maturity and intellectual ability seems to hamper some students.

Instead of imprisoning students who want nothing more than to leave, why don’t we let them leave? While I could not put a reasonable estimate on it, it seems to me that teachers spent the majority of their time on a small number of students, those with learning issues and behavioural issues. If we allowed those with behavioural problems to leave and begin their working lives we may be better served. Cutting out the most problematic 1-3% of a school population could be hugely beneficial. Anyone with teaching experience just has to think of the times when “that student” is away and how much more smoothly the class runs.

My solution is as follows. We should dramatically increase the quality and availability of adult education. When these students are in their twenties and realize the shortcomings of not having a diploma they should be able to return to public education. The first problem is that a G.E.D. is not considered as valuable as a regular diploma. I do not see why we could not change that. First of all, I don’t see why we should distinguish between the two. This would eliminate any stigma, though any employer could do the math and see a discrepancy in age and the date the diploma was issued.

Here’s my question: Does it matter when the diploma is issued so long as it is issued? Or, is “when” important? To me, I say no. Instead of jamming programs in so that children complete an Ontario Secondary School Diploma in 4-5 years, why not just make it easier for those who do not get it at the first shot to get it at the second attempt? This kind of program would benefit those who struggled in their youth, immigrants and those seeking to improve their basic education. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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