SOCIOLOGY AND ECONOMICS
BRINGS SUCCESS IN AN
"EDUCATION IS THE ONLY SOCIAL
THAT DETERMINES WHETHER A CHILD GROWS INTO
AN ADULT WHO WILL PROSPER IN
PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL PARTS OF LIFE
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:
- illiteracy to participate in the current job market;
- which in turn creates familial and social unfunctionality in
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
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......
OF AND BY EDUCATORS
combining sociology and economics
By JACK MINTZ
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
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:
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,
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
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
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
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
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:
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
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
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.