Eight year-old Sirvat Labiba emigrated with her family from Bangladesh to Ontario, Canada when she was three. She lives in the Crescent Town neighborhood of Toronto with her mother, father and little sister in a high-rise apartment tower. “Most of them are pretty dirty,” she said. “They built it a really long time ago. So it’s, like, really old.” Even if the housing isn’t ideal, Labiba is thrilled to live in Ontario. “It’s a better community, because in Bangladesh, when people get sick it’s really hard for them to get better. And so this is, like, a better community for children to learn,” she said. Educators in the United States tend to take international comparisons of public school systems with a big grain of salt. Many of the other countries that rank highly on international tests serve such homogeneous populations that it can be challenging to make fair and useful comparisons. Think: Finland, Singapore, and South Korea. But the academic success of students like Labiba is one of the things that makes Ontario stand out internationally. The system has been heralded worldwide while serving a large minority population and embracing multiculturalism.
When Erica Brunato decided to become a teacher in Ontario, she knew the road ahead would be long and steep. “We all knew coming into this program — even just applying for the program — what it was going to be like, right? And I said, ‘I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.’ So that didn’t stop me,” she said. Compared to Pennsylvania, teacher preparation in Ontario is more rigorous and the job market is much more competitive. There, students must earn a four-year college degree and then complete a teacher training program that includes a lot of classroom practice. That training program used to be one year, but the ministry recently doubled it — moving in the direction of countries like Finland and Singapore, which are thought to be leaders in teacher prep.
A diverse group of very young students sit cross-legged for story time at Rose Avenue elementary in Toronto. The kids are joyful, yet focused, and the group is small enough that the two teachers in the room are able to give one-on-one attention when needed. The school’s principal enters, and the children greet him with a sing-songy, ‘Good afternoon, Mr. Crichton.” They smile, return their attention to the book, and remain completely unaware that they’re a part of something that could prove revolutionary. It’s something that’s been commonplace in Ontario for the past few years, but before that, was thought of as a pipe dream: full-day, junior and senior kindergarten, open to all 4 and 5-year-olds in the province. The junior year is equivalent to what in the U.S. we’d call high-quality pre-K. The classes are taught by two teachers, one certified in elementary education, another with early-childhood credentials. And over the course of two years, the kids stay with the same cohort.
By Molly Born / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 13, 2016 11:51 PM
By Elizabeth Behrman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette December 14, 2016 12:00 AM
ESSA regulations may get scrutiny
A newly launched website already has more than 1,500 names of professors and other faculty members at colleges and universities around the country and abroad who are all making an unusual request: They want their names added to the controversial “Professor Watchlist,” the work of a conservative group targeting academics it deems to be advancing “leftist propaganda” in classrooms. [New conservative ‘watchlist’ targets professors for ‘advancing leftist propaganda’]
Professor Watchlist is a project of the nonprofit organization Turning Point USA (I wrote about that here), which is, according to the group’s website, a national movement that seeks to “educate students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.”
Washington, D.C. Phone:(202) 224-4944
Did you know that quality early childhood education sets our children up for success? It reduces the need for special education, raises graduation rates, and narrows the achievement gap. These benefits ripple throughout our schools, neighborhoods, and local economy.
That’s why the City of Philadelphia is expanding free, quality pre-K for 6,500 three- and four-year-olds over the next five years. In fact, the first 2,000 pre-K seats are available now. Families should act fast because classes begin on January 4th at more than 80 locations.
Please help us spread the word. Parents/caregivers can call 844-PHL-PREK (844-745-7735) to speak with a trained professional who will help them apply and locate quality pre-K programs nearby. For more information, visit www.PHLprek.org
Pennsylvania Every Student Succeeds Act Public Tour
The Department of Education (PDE) is holding a series of public events to engage the public on important education topics in Pennsylvania. The primary focus of these events will be the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law signed by President Barack Obama in late 2015. A senior leader from the department will provide background on the law, and discuss the ongoing
development of Pennsylvania’s State Plan for its implementation, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in 2017. Feedback is important to PDE; to provide the best avenue for public comment as well as provide an opportunity for those who cannot attend an event, members of the community are encouraged to review materials and offer comments at http://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/tour.aspx#tab-1
Upcoming Public Events:
Community College of Philadelphia
Bonnell Building, Bonnell Auditorium, Room BG-20
1700 Spring Garden Street Philadelphia, PA 19130
Bucks County Free Library Quakertown Branch
401 West Mill Street Quakertown, PA 18951
Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County
3201 Rockwell Avenue Scranton, PA 18508
PSBA Virtual New School Director Training, Part 1
JAN 4, 2017 • 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
The job of a school board director is challenging. Changing laws, policies, and pressures from your community make serving on your school board demanding, yet rewarding at the same time. Most school directors – even those with many years of experience – say that PSBA training is one of the most important and valuable things they have done in order to understand their roles and responsibilities. If you are a new school board director and didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of PSBA’s live New School Director Training events, you can now attend via your computer, either by yourself from your home or office, or with a group of other school directors.
This is the same New School Director Training content we offer in a live classroom format, but adjusted for virtual training.
Fee: $149 per person includes all three programs. Materials may be downloaded free, or $25 for materials to be mailed to your home (log in to the Members Area and purchase through the Store/Registration link).
Register online: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6607237329490796034
PSBA Third Annual Board Presidents Day
JAN 28, 2017 • 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Nine Locations Statewide
Jan. 28, 2017 (Snow date: Feb. 11, 2017)
Calling all school board presidents, vice-presidents, and superintendents — Join us for the 3rd Annual PSBA Board Presidents Day held at nine convenient locations around the state.
This is a day of meeting fellow board members from your area and taking part in thought-provoking dialogue about the issues every board faces. PSBA Past President Kathy Swope will start things off with an engaging presentation based on her years as board president at the Lewistown Area School District. Bring your own scenarios to this event to gain perspective from other districts. Cost: $109 per person – includes registration, lunch and materials. All-Access Package applies. Register online by logging in to the Members Area (see the Store/Registration link to view open event registrations, https://www.psba.org/members-area/store-registration/)
Join school directors around the country at the conference designed to give you the tools to advocate successfully on behalf of public education.
- NSBA will help you develop a winning advocacy strategy to help you in Washington, D.C. and at home.
- Attend timely and topical breakout sessions lead by NSBA’s knowledgeable staff and outside experts.
- Expand your advocacy network by swapping best practices, challenges, and successes with other school board members from across the country.
Plan to join public education leaders for networking and learning at the 2017 NSBA Annual Conference, March 25-27 in Denver, CO. General registration is now open at https://www.nsba.org/conference/registration. A conference schedule, including pre-conference workshops, is available on the NSBA website.