The Globe has assembled more than 100 bright minds from across the country – teachers, parents, policy-makers, even a few brilliant students – into an ad hoc board called Student Council. They will weigh in on education issues throughout the school year. This week, we look at frustrations during the first two weeks of school.
Tim Stobbs, father of two, Regina Public School Board trustee
The Endless Confusion on Supports. Once the classes are somewhat set and the needs across the division known, the resources for special-needs kids are then fully deployed. While they can give you an indication of what supports you may have in the fall, you never really know until you get there . So it is hard to prepare your kid on what to expect. Good thing mine is still flexible on having changes.
Aerin Guy, mother of a 9-year-old girl, education technology advocate, Toronto
I've felt, during the last five years that my daughter has been in school, that a simple introduction "package" for parents would be a helpful tool.
The parents in our community always seem to create a huge churn of stress that lasts from June, when classroom assignments are announced, to September, when everyone is frantically trying to get their child's placement changed. The stress seems to stem from the fact that we don't know much about the teachers at the school. People fear what they don't know.
I'd love for each class to have a simple web page (easily done via Edmodo, Edsby, Blogger, etc.). A little about the teacher, a calendar that I could reference, the major things covered in the curriculum, planned field trips, volunteer opportunities, etc. A classroom parent could easily help to set this up.
Leigh Anne Richardson, mother of two boys 11 and 8, Manor Park Public School, Ottawa
Class changes: In Ontario, the primary grades are capped at 20 students. Schools constantly have to play with numbers in the first few weeks – either adding classrooms and moving students or letting teachers go because they don't have enough students.
School supplies: Last year in Ontario, the provincial government said parents should not have to pay for school supplies, so the school boards now issue "optional" lists of supplies parents can purchase for their children. These are very generic lists and generally I find many of the supplies aren't used in the classroom. I'd prefer if teachers wait and issue a specific list (i.e. duotangs instead of binders) so I'm not wasting time and money getting things my kids won't use.
Andrew Campbell, father, Grade 4/5 teacher, Major Ballachey School in Brantford, Ont.
The start of school is like Christmas. You've been thinking and planning for how it's going to be. Now it's here and you get to unwrap all these amazing little gifts and find out what they're really like. It's a time full of optimism when everything is possible, everyone is happy and well rested and happy for the change. The grind of the routine hasn't set in and all things are possible.
Marianne Mazzarato, chief assessment officer for Ontario's Education Quality and Accountability, Toronto
The first two weeks of school are filled with mixed emotions: anticipation, anxiety, excitement. As a mother of three, I experience these emotions year after year with my own children. As those glorious last days of summer come to an end, we can't help but hope for a positive September start-up.