Sunday, April 26, 2009


Quick overview of what I learned/heard today:

- Brilliant opening remarks by Avis Glaze looking at significant global trends and their impact on education, the vital link between democracy and education, the moral imperative to educate all students, how Ontario has dramatically improved achievement in low-achieving schools by closing the achievement gap(See Ontario Min. of Education's publication: Schools on the Move), exciting work around forging consensus, developing a common sense of purpose and building commitment rather than using a Shame and Blame measure of accountability, empowering teachers and Principals to be the agents of positive change, collaborating with community, the importance of character education as well as academic education, how boys are falling behind in education and need to be helped and using statistical information about kids to help shape strategies. Very inspiring.

- Plenary session Bill 212- a new approach to suspensions, expulsions and student behaviour which takes an about-face from Mike Harris' Zero Tolerance policy called the Safe Schools Act. Debate about whether it encourages "lawyering up", and removes too much authority from the Principal's hands. Concerns about excessive use of appeal process and balancing that against student rights, the Human Rights Charter, Convention on the Rights of the Child. Message to be sure that integration, equity and social justice are determining board decisions and a clear move away from segregation on the grounds of human rights.

- Demonstration of the Charter Challenge. A new interesting project here in Ontario, where students prepare and present arguments on a charter case. The demonstration showed two teams presenting arguments on an expulsion case that went to the Court of Appeal re: a student posting comments about his teacher on his Facebook page. A judge from the Court of Appeal was in attendance to hear the arguments and present a decision.

-Discipline in the case of Special Needs Students- if they are incapable of understanding the discipline, changing their behaviour (Tourettes, for example) or unable to predict the foreseeable consequences of their actions, discipline is discriminatory. Other factors to consider: what impact will removing them from school have on their education, are they are threat to others present at the school, is the behaviour a direct result of their disability (if so, discipline may not be appropriate), are the appropriate accommodations in place to meet their needs, have they been properly assessed. We discussed court cases where expulsions were overturned in appeal.

Head is full... off to walk and digest.

1 comment:

Madeline Rainey said...

This is an excellent summary, Sue. Thanks, as always.

I found a document online (Ontario Education) that discusses discipline in the case of special needs students at:

It's an excellent resource placing things into a realistic perspective that validates proactivity & student support instead of knee-jerk punitive responses.