TORONTO, September 10, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - On February 1, 1990, ABC World News Tonight aired a five-minute newscast on "The Best School System in the World" which featured Ontario and was viewed by 20 million viewers all over North America.
Bill Blakemore, a reporter for ABC News, said that, "In Toronto, Ontario, the school system is remarkable because schools where the kids are intent, engrossed in learning all day are not the exception but the rule." It made good sense in 1990 for ABC News to visit Ontario and report on the public education system. It makes even more sense for ABC News to re-visit our province to report on the current system.
On Saturday, the documentary Waiting for Superman will be released at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Premier's Education Summit will begin on Monday with keynote speakers such as President Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. The conjunction of these two events may shine a spotlight on public education in Ontario and give us an opportunity to celebrate its successes.
To that end, the Ontario Public School Boards' Association would like to highlight at least three good reasons why the citizens of Ontario should be proud of their public education system - Academic Standing Worldwide, the Equity and Inclusion Strategy, Caring Citizens.
Ontario students consistently place at or near the top in reading, math and science when compared to other jurisdictions in Canada and worldwide.
Ontario Grade 4 student reading abilities are among the best in the world. In the most recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessment taken by students in 45 countries and provinces around the world, only students in the Russian Federation and Hong Kong performed better than those in Ontario. There were 8 other jurisdictions in the same performance range as Ontario.
Ontario's Grade 8 students ranked among the top 14 of 52 countries and provinces in science on the most recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessment.
And finally, 91% of Ontario Grade 10 students met or exceeded the critical science benchmark in the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study. What's interesting about that study is the achievement gap between rich and poor students in Ontario was among the lowest in the world - making Ontario's one of the few education systems in the world that can boast both excellence and equity.
Equity and Inclusion Education Strategy
One of Ontario's greatest strengths is its diversity. There are more than 200 languages spoken as a mother tongue in our province. People who identify themselves as people of colour account for nearly a quarter of Ontario's population.
We envision an inclusive education system in Ontario in which all students, parents, and other members of the school community are welcomed and respected. We also want every student to be supported and inspired to succeed in a culture of high expectations for learning.
The Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy helps us move closer to achieving that vision.
We want to remove all barriers that impede student success. This includes discrimination, low self-confidence and lack of respect. Research tells us - and so do our hearts - that students who feel welcome and accepted in their schools are more likely to excel academically.
Learning to welcome, accept and respect people's differences and work together to find common ground will not be forgotten after graduation. These are lessons that will last a lifetime.
We believe that the vast majority of Ontarians support honesty, truth, civility, social justice, and co-operation; and a determination to combat racism, gender inequality, and environment degradation, as values necessary for any kind of equitable, caring and civil society. And we believe all schools in Ontario are committed to transmitting these values to their students.