So what do we do? – Part 1 – the Principles

April 7, 2008

I am very encouraged by some of the language of the Throne speech. I heard this:

  • All children would be involved
  • That families would be involved

What I am also hearing are the natural fears of those who work in the system as it is today. The members of ECDA and the Teachers. Both look ahead at declining enrollment. Both see each other as a threat to each other. Both start with saying that they are all about the Kids BUT then they talk exclusively about their jobs, their qualifications etc.

BUT hello everyone – this is about our children – they have to come first!

So while there has to be lots of discussions about how all of this will be organized, I want to put a stake in the ground about what it would mean if it WERE all about the Kids:

  • It is the emotional state of the mother that is at the heart of everything – in so many cases she has lost the tradition emotional and physical support of the extended family. Her state of mind is the single most important influence in the trajectory of her children
  • So before all kids go to Kindergarten – we must design a system that can work to provide this support.

Then all the aspects of where and what the institutions do can follow. If we make this into a war between the ECDA and the Teachers we will lose it all. If we keep this in the fron of our minds – than I also think the organizational issues can be dealt with in a way that works for all.


    Parents for Choice & Quality Applaud Government

    April 4, 2008

    NEWS RELEASE

    For Immediate Release
    April 4, 2008

    PARENTS FOR CHOICE & QUALITY APPLAUD GOVERNMENT FOR RECOGNIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EARLY YEARS

    The Parents for Choice and Quality wish to applaud the Honourable Premier Ghiz and his government for recognizing the importance and long term benefits of investing in the early childhood years.

    We agree that kindergarten programs will benefit Island children within a school setting.  We are encouraged to hear that the government plan to conduct a thorough, careful and sensitive consultation process prior to any changes transpiring.  “There are many factors to consider. We believe in an integrated system of community-based early child development and parenting centres linked to the school system.” said April Ennis, co-chair of Parents for Choice and Quality.

    “We are looking forward to continued consultation and work with the government regarding the early years.” commented Jane Boyd, co-chair of Parents for Choice and Quality. “We are pleased that the government recognizes that Prince Edward Island must do more to offer Island children the best possible education. We know that the way to do that is to start in the early years.”

    Expanded funding for children ages 18 – 24 months to the CHANCES Best Start Program is a welcomed announcement which will benefit families greatly.

    Parents for Choice and Quality support the development and implementation of a high quality early learning and support system for all preschool aged children and their families on PEI. The group, representing mothers, fathers, grandparents, child care centres, industry professionals and concerned citizens of PEI, has grown quickly out of concern related to recent government decisions that are impacting early childhood development.

    We envision a system for Early Child Development that ranks in importance with the formal school system. Such a system would have to be universal. All children would have to be included. Such a system would draw on the well-established research and expertise in the field and on the new best practice in the nation in other provinces.  One of our key goals is to ensure that the interests of parents and our children are paramount and that parents get the choice and the quality that they deserve.

      


    Wonderful Progress!

    April 3, 2008

    Here is the text of the press release today!!!

    “The changes in Ministerial duties and departmental responsibilities reflect the need to improve the way services and programs are provided to Islanders,” the Premier said.  “In particular, I believe the new emphasis on rural development will assist many communities to thrive in a changing world. In particular, I am confident that this approach will offer many more Islanders the opportunity to stay within their home communities – and still participate in a changing economy.”

    As a result of the changes, three Ministers were sworn by the Lieutenant-Governor to new responsibilities:
    • The Honourable Allan Campbell is now the Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development.
    • The Honourable Richard Brown is now the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning.
    • The Honourable Gerard Greenan is now the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
     “The decision to blend responsibilities for early childhood development with education makes perfect sense,” the Premier said. “The team that I have the honour to lead is very serious about improving the supports provided to families as they prepare their children for the education system. Government recognizes that education begins at home, and the new Department will ensure that there is a high level of continuity between early childhood and school programs.”
    Finally, the new Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning will help government to sharply focus on the province’s inherent economic strengths.
    “As I have said in the past, Prince Edward Island is not rich in natural resources like minerals or oil. Instead, our greatest resource is our people,” the Premier said.
    “The new Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning will provide government with the tools to invest in Islanders, whether that is through the education system or through appropriate assistance to innovative new businesses.”
    Over the course of the upcoming legislative session, further details on government’s specific policy direction will be announced. The Speech from the Throne will be read April 4th, 2008.
    “The Speech will clearly spell out government’s plans for the next several years –  and offer a significant amount of detail about the changes that will take place. Of course, the budget will also offer government the opportunity to clearly demonstrate its plans. I am also looking forward to the release of a new economic strategy, which will help to guide decision making about the investment of public resources into areas designed to improve the Island’s economic performance in the years and decades to come,” the Premier said.

    Guardian Questions Lack of Consultation

    March 9, 2008

    Here are some excerpts from an editorial in the Guardian this weekend.  Click here to see the full text. 

    The government is hesitant to make a decision until there is a general consensus for or against. It makes one wonder if this government has a firm stand on anything. So it came as a stunning surprise when the government decided late last week to make a major change to the age when children enter kindergarten and school. 

    Kindergarten is one area where parents need lots of time to look for the right facility, get on a waiting list, and budget for the expense. Parents didn’t need to be panicked into making rash decisions. The announcement last Thursday came without warning for the majority involved in early childhood learning, who were given just three days warning to modify lesson plans for the rest of the year and accommodate new children who had never been to kindergarten before. It appears that a small, vocal minority stampeded government into making a rash decision, leaving parents and teachers scrambling to make sense of the whole thing.

    Parents don’t want to hold their children back while friends move on. So, during a meeting on Monday, the Education Department told early learning educators and operators they don’t have to try to catch them up. Instead, they are being asked to offer these children a ‘readiness program.’ Yet a senior staffer warned parents this is not the recommended route for children. If senior staff hasn’t signed on, why is the department proceeding? The readiness program is not ready because staff is still scrambling to put it together. 

    The new eligibility date will put the P.E.I. start date more in line with the rest of the country, so the issue isn’t the change of dates; it’s the absence of consultation with stakeholders. There should have been a year or more advance warning given.The key issue should have been what’s best for the child. That wasn’t addressed properly here. Greenan had better be prepared for some tough questions when the house opens next month. 


    Excellent conversation on PEI Info

    March 5, 2008

    More conversation here on PEI Info


    “Stay the Course”

    March 4, 2008

    ‘What I’m recommending to parents when I get the calls is that they stay the course.’ (CBC)
    — Linda Lowther, Dept. of Education

    The P.E.I. Department of Education is suggesting that parents not rush to start children recently made eligible for Grade 1 next year.

    The province adjusted the age eligibility for students starting Grade 1 last week, meaning children turning six before Oct. 31 can start school this year. Previously the cutoff had been Aug. 31.

    As a result of the change, some parents are trying to enrol their children in kindergarten to prepare them for entering school in the fall, but the government is now saying parents don’t need to be hasty, unless their children can already read and are ready to advance.

    “What I’m recommending to parents when I get the calls is that they stay the course, because they would have been planning to put their child in kindergarten in September anyway,” senior director of public education Linda Lowther told CBC News Monday.

    “I really, really recommend highly that parents continue with that decision, that they leave their child wherever their child was, whether it’s in pre-K or at home, and that they start kindergarten in September.”

    The government says it changed the age requirement at the request of parents who complained that children were able to start at a younger age in other provinces.