Q: Is there a Problem with our Current Education System?
SQE recognizes the various pedagogies that have made up part of our curriculum system over the years have changed, and we became concerned when a high number of kids struggled with basic fundamentals so critical to their education. “Child centered learning” favoured the more traditional methods of teaching practices that worked, such as phonics.
Over the years, the public education system became vulnerable to education fads – methods of teaching that were unproven but widely adopted, and recent studies are showing us an alarming rate of decrease in math test scores, for example:
Our global market today is competitive and demands skills that SQE wants every child to master: a strong command of literary and numerical skills. Together these fundamental principles in education give children the tools needed to learn how to think and go on to succeed in other areas of learning. SQE favours the approach supported by the most extensive and credible research: a strong focus on direct instruction, including phonics, drill, and rote learning in the early years to establish a solid base of literacy and numeracy on which to build students’ education in the higher grades. Once students have this base, the judicious use of less traditional methods, such as discovery and computer assisted learning and a focus on higher order skills, can be very effective ways to engage students and improve learning outcomes.
SQE recognizes that the person who knows best about a child’s education are their parents and their teachers. We would like to see less direct instruction of teaching pedagogy mandated by the government and more freedom in the methods that our children thrive and succeed in, whether they focus on Montessori schools, International Baccalaureate schools, sports schools, special needs schools, traditional schools, distance schools, etc.
Q: What does Society for Quality Education do?
SQE is one of Canada’s few charities that focuses on helping every child in the public school system reach his or her potential. The remedial resources we offer to teachers, parents and students have helped thousands of kids in this country succeed and thrive in their academics. SQE was founded by former school teacher, Malkin Dare, in 2002. The SQE believes that every child deserves a public education that helps them flourish and that every child can reach that goal with the proper guidance. SQE is dedicated to helping create an excellent school system in Canada.
Q: Is our public education perfect?
Education is one of our most important public investments – and in fact among the highest spending in government. In Ontario, for example, it tops all other ministries at $22 billion a year. But despite the increasing costs, SQE believes that we can do better. Statistics show time and time again that children perform better in academics when they have choices in education, as opposed to a “one size fits all” approach.
Q: How can we create a system that delivers a good education?
Every child, regardless of their learning style, has a right to reach his or her fullest potential in school. SQE believes our education system should strive to find new ways in improving the system to ensure that no child is left behind. There are several ways to explore this. School vouchers, for example, are certificates of government funding for any student that can be used at a school chosen by the student or the student’s parents. Tax credits for families whose children are enrolled in private school can help offset expensive costs.
Additionally, charter schools, a system whereby parents and educators run schools designed for kids who have specific strengths or needs (math, sciences, arts, athletics, kids with autism, etc) have proven to be phenomenally successful in the US and Canada. For more information on school choice, click here. School choice shouldn’t only be available for the wealthier families. By investing public funds in education that all students from all walks of life can succeed, we can ensure every child can reach their potential.
Q: My child is struggling in school. What resources do you have that can help him or her succeed?
Our founder, former teacher Malkin Dare, wrote an excellent book called ‘How to get the right education your child.’ The book became an instant classic and was updated again in 1998. In it, she matter-of-factly explains the challenges in our school system and the successes of struggling kids who can overcome them with some simple – yet strong – solutions.
SQE’s resources on our website, Stairway to Reading, Math and Grammar have helped thousands of struggling kids and the teachers and parents who educate them. We know this because of the daily downloads we get requesting these resources and the excellent feedback from them. Learn more here.
Q: My daughter asked me for help on her math work, but I couldn’t understand it. What is “discovery math” and why is it so different from how we learned?
In recent years, educators have moved from traditional and proven teaching methods in math, such as using an abacus or learning by rote, and instead focused on a new trendy technique in which the child “discovers” the answer by solving a word problem with little instruction by the teacher. What we’ve seen however is a dramatic decrease in math test scores among Canadian provinces (with the exception of Quebec, which has kept more traditional methods in place).
Discovery Math relies on sophisticated logic and reasoning that most young children haven’t yet grasped. Without understanding the fundamental concepts of math, a young student cannot succeed in discovery math. In fact, a recent study by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy stated that “traditional math education methods are superior to the highly ineffective, discovery-based instructional techniques that are in vogue now in educational curricula.”
Recently, some Ontario universities announced graduating teachers must pass a math skills test in order to graduate. In addition, the Ontario government announced $60 million in new funding for improving math test scores – although they haven’t made changes to the curriculum. All of these measures point to potential problems in the system that are not being properly addressed.
Q: My son is having trouble reading. How can I help?
Substantial research shows that systemic phonics is successful in teaching kids (especially boys) to read. It’s important in the early years of school, when a child is introduced to reading, that they are also read to. SQE supports traditional methods of teaching children to read and especially encourages parents and teachers to get early help for kids who show signs of struggling. Every child is capable of learning to read fluently and to develop a love of reading. Download our successful tools of remedial reading free of charge here.
Q: What is a Charter School and can it improve education in Canada?
In a nutshell, a charter school is an education system designed by the biggest stakeholders in education: parents, children, and educators. It’s philosophy is in recognizing the uniqueness of every child, catering to their needs, and ensuring they develop a love of education followed by a successful future. Charter schools, a concept of school choice, is practiced successfully in some US States and in the province of Alberta. A Charter School is a school run by a board which includes parents, educators, or a combination of both. They are funded through tax dollars like public schools and must comply with provincial standards. Their success is based on “choice” in education: some charter schools focus on sciences, arts, math, First Nations, specially gifted children and special needs children. They are accountable to taxpayers: those that succeed, flourish; and those that don’t, shut down.
Thousands of studies illustrate that charter schools outperform public ones and provide children with a better chance of succeeding in education because they recognize the individual needs of students. A recent research paper from Stanford University cited that “Across 41 (US) cities studied, students in charter schools learned significantly more than their peers attending traditional public schools.” In addition, teachers, who are front-line workers in the system, have more freedom in choosing what techniques work for their students.
At approximately $13,000 spent per student in public education, charter schools can easily operate in conjunction with public and private schools, giving parents and taxpayers more options for their education dollar.
Q: Don’t we have accountability measures in our school systems?
More than ever, as we prepare for a new generation of students for the new millennium, accountability in education must take centre stage. Several organizations, such as the School Achievers Indicator Program, track education in Canada to ensure its keeping up world-wide; but it’s up to individual provinces to safeguard that policy-makers and educators are keeping schools accountable to the public. Can it be improved? Absolutely. In Ontario for example, the EQAO tests given in elementary and high schools are meant to track reading and arithmetic progress in student achievement, but they don’t go far enough: the province will not use these metrics to improve the system – yet they should.
Q: Our schools are rated as among the best in the world. Is this true?
PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) ranks Canada among the top 40 countries that provide a good education, but a significant decline in math and sciences continues. SQE believes teaching philosophies have contributed to this decline and that educators need to take it seriously.
SQE is devoted to ensuring every single child succeeds and thrives in education. In a competitive economic market, this is not only desirable, but achievable. We ask you to help our goals in making every child succeed by donating to our cause.