veD OF EDUCATION SYSTEM AND EDUCATION PROVIDERS:....PARTICIPACTION OF TEACHERS, STUDENTS AND PARENTS...AT LOCAL LEVELS WHERE EDUCATION OCCURS........
Posted by Ashram News Reporter on February 7, 2004

SOCIOLOGY AND ECONOMICS
BRINGS SUCCESS IN AN
 EDUCATION SYSTEM

"EDUCATION IS THE ONLY SOCIAL PHENOMENON
 THAT DETERMINES WHETHER A CHILD GROWS INTO
 AN ADULT WHO WILL PROSPER IN
 PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL PARTS OF LIFE
 AND
 CREATE A PROGRESSIVE AND PROSPEROUS
FAMILY, COMMUNITY, NATION AND WORLD ORDER
FOR GENERATIONS TO COME".

At PVAF, the above is the primary philosophy of the PVAF EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR HUMANITY being developed and implemented through volunteers, donors and full participations of the recipients of the program who are children and their parents who want a break from the sufferings of life in the form of LIFE BARRIERS such as:

  • poverty,
  • ill-health,
  • illiteracy to participate in the current job market;
  • which in turn creates familial and social unfunctionality in life.......

PVAF's fundamentals of education program and system to deliver education is illustrated by a relatively small community of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.....

(The preceding write-up and the following article provided by SRii champaklal dajibhai mistry of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada who is a volunteer leader in the development and implementation of PVAF Gujraat Education Program)

Please click on the next line to enlighten yourself from an article in Canada's GLOBE AND MAIL as to how a small education system serving about 600,000 citizens of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada  is becoming a model education system that is being adopted in many communities in Canada and USA......  




EDUCATION SYSTEM
OF AND BY EDUCATORS
FOR STUDENTS
combining sociology and economics

By JACK MINTZ
CANADA'S GLOBE AND MAIL: Friday, February 6, 2004 - Page A19

Many Canadians are ready at the drop of a hat to argue that the country's primary and secondary education systems deserve a failing grade. Except in Edmonton. Few of us realize that the Alberta capital is a North American poster child for public-school education, a model from which others can learn.

To understand what is happening in Edmonton -- an experience now being replicated in some U.S. cities -- it is essential to look at a puzzle that has bedevilled educators for years:

"why spending more money on education
does not seem to have much impact on
 academic performance within school systems."

For example, Canada, which scores among the top five countries in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development tests, spends slightly more than $8,000 per student on secondary education. This is 25 per cent less than the United States, a country that ranks far lower on international student-performance scales. (Japan, on the other hand, does better than Canada on international tests, except for literacy, but spends about the same per-capita amount on education as we do.)

The same can be said of the performance of school systems inside Canada. The provinces with the best mean scores on OECD tests are Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia. These provinces also have the smallest differences in achievement among students. Yet the biggest spenders on education are Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. Alberta actually spends 17 per cent less per student than Ontario, but scores much higher.

Recent research is providing some missing pieces to this puzzle. Nobel laureate George Akerlof and his colleague Rachel Kranton have come up with a new approach -- combining sociology and economics -- to understanding how schools work best. The key point is that academic performance depends not only on investments that schools make in training, it also reflects the degree to which students identify with:

  •  the school community,

  • including different types of academic programs,

  • social activities and

  • family involvement.


That does not mean that schools should be shopping malls for students, trying to serve their "customers" by making programs more acceptable to students, or that they should condone behaviour that undermines the system. However, by creating an atmosphere that excites students to learn, a school can improve overall academic performance.

Canadians do not have to look far to discover practical experience consistent with these findings. William Ouchi of the University of California at Los Angeles, who examined 220 school boards across North America, found that Edmonton's public schools ranked among the top six on the continent in terms of academic performance.

Much of the city's success is due to three factors:

  • public and independent school competition supported by Alberta government grants,

  • school choice in the public system, and

  • school-based budgeting, giving principals wide flexibility to manage resources.

Several school systems in North America, including Seattle, New York City, Cincinnati, Houston and British Columbia now are adopting the Edmonton model.

The Edmonton system's transformation began in the late 1970s when, facing competition from private schools, the public school board decided that it wanted to offer institutions that were just as good as any private institution in the city. And so it launched several initiatives:

  •  One was "open borders," a system that enables students to attend any school in a district.

  • Another was specialization among public schools, including programs in arts, athletics and other school community-building ventures.

  • As well, it invited formally independent schools -- many of which were supported by the Alberta government as private schools -- to become members of the public school board.

  • And it brought in school-based budgeting.

The school-based budgeting model is critical because it acknowledges that one size does not fit all. Principals make individual decisions on resource use, as long as the school follows the approved curriculum and certain rules related to employer-employee relations. Principals decide:

  •  whether to use resources to reduce class sizes in early grades and increase them in later grades, or

  • they can choose between having an assistant principal or more student counsellors.

  • Fewer rigid rules are in place, enabling schools to respond more quickly to new trends and to characteristics of the student population.

Edmonton is a model that is dynamic, with a strong academic performance. Not only are the achievement scores of Edmonton students high, the scores' correlation with socio-economic status is exceptionally weak -- that is, poorer kids have about the same chance of success as richer ones. This is exactly what we should be getting from our public schools.

The best example of an inner-city system replicating Edmonton's success is found in Central Park East Elementary and Secondary Schools in New York City. The East Harlem schools, operating with dilapidated buildings in a traditionally poor neighbourhood, have almost:

  •  no dropouts, and

  •  90 per cent of graduates going to college (with no less than a 90-per-cent success rate of graduation from college).

One principal, Deborah Meier, accomplished this record almost single-handedly, by creating a school community that differs from the troubled areas where most of the students and teachers live. The curriculum is generated in part by students' ideas, and Ms. Meier's school emphasizes student presentations and projects, as well as teacher-parent conferencing.

The East Harlem schools are:

  •  kept small, as are class sizes;

  • there are fewer shifts of students among classes because teachers take on multiple-year assignments.

  • As in Edmonton, the emphasis is on choice and on allowing principals to exercise a wide degree of discretion when allocating resources.

Canadians and their governments should be debating how best to spread Edmonton's success to other schools. The debate must, of necessity, involve the provinces because they are masters of the education systems, but Prime Minister Paul Martin is in the best position to lead the discussion.

Jack M. Mintz is president and CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute and Deloitte & Touche professor of taxation at the J. L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

 



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