There's an interesting piece on the site today about whether all-day schooling will be available in Ontario schools for 2010. This became a possibility in June when a long-awaited report by Charles Pascal and others was released.
It called on the province not just to provide all-day kindergarten, but to make schools into hubs for childcare, marrying curriculum and daycare under a single roof. For kids up to age 12, there would be a reliable mix of childcare and studies from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. (the typical hours of a daycare). No more mid-day busing or walking kindergartners to or from daycare. No more four-year wait-lists for coveted after-school programs. No more slack-jawed kids softening in front of the TV in somebody's basement because its the only place that had a spot.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said he'd take the summer to think about it. Not so much the all-day learning part, but the hours outside of school.
Complicating matters, teachers said this summer they won't play nice with early childhood educators (ECEs). No, the people we are counting on -- at least in part -- to shape our children's minds and characters, just don't want to share their classrooms. Or at least the unions representing them say they won't.
Like petulant older siblings who don't want to bunk in with brother or sister, apparently teachers are so concerned with "protecting the integrity of the teaching profession" that they don't even want to high-five an early childhood educator on their way out the door once class is over.
What's boggling about this is that no one wants to take any teaching away from teachers and give it to ECEs. What Pascal, Fraser Mustard and other advocates want is for reliable, enriching, safe childcare to be available in one-stop shops that level the playing field between kids from rich and poor homes, and make life a little easier and more affordable for families.
I find this opposition galling because teachers are the ones who see first-hand the discrepancy in literacy, numeracy and behaviour of kids who spend their preschool years and after-school hours in stimulating environments, compared to those who don't. Kids whose off-school hours are filled making crafts, working on homework and getting exercise under the care of qualified ECEs, are at a huge advantage over those who languish in unstimulating, unlicensed care with a high ratio of kids to caregivers. Or over children who are half-watched at home by a older siblings who may be busy uploading photos to Facebook, while MSN planning their next trips to the mall.
So what do you do if you want the province to implement the recommendations of the Pascal report? You join forces with other parents and start a list of families who want all-day childcare based in your school. You email your MPP. And you tell your child's teacher -- and maybe the shop steward -- that you hope he or she will speak up in favour doing what's best for families.
Make it known that your school community won't stand for teachers who stand in the way of better childcare.