Chapter Two: The Structure of Canadian Schooling


1.   The prologue to this chapter outlined some of the complexities of both school board decision making and Indigenous education in Canada. In the prologue, Norman has to decide what to say and how to vote in an upcoming board meeting. Based on the information in this chapter, identify what you consider to be the essential issues in the case study and prepare a presentation for Norman that details what you think the board should be doing, and why.

2.   This chapter has described Canada’s public school system as being centralized at the provincial level. Find out more about the educational system of a country that is either more centralized (for example France or Korea) or decentralized (for example the Netherlands or the US), and use your findings to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a centralized system.

3.   Have school boards outlived their usefulness and should they be abolished? Write an argument either defending or critiquing their importance to public schooling.

4.   Does your province recognize separate (religious) schools? If so in what ways? Trace the origins of separate schools (or lack of them) in your jurisdiction.

5.   Find out who the minister of education is in your province. What is this person’s background? What policy positions or issues are they presently tackling? (You may want to undertake this assignment by contacting the minister’s office, in which case part of your study could be what sort of response you get, from whom, and when.)

6.   Interview a trustee from your local school board. Ask them about what the board does, what the role of the trustee is, how he or she came to the position, and what issues are of major concern.

7.   Assume that your school board/region is opening a new school next year. It is hoped that the school will be a model of school–community collaboration. Prepare a plan for community involvement that would include deciding (1) who constitutes “the community” (parents, students, residents, businesses, and so forth); (2) which areas of school life the community would and would not be involved in; (3) what you mean by “collaboration”; and (4) how you would regulate collaboration.

8.   Examine the history and purposes of residential schools in Canada with the meanings of “education” and the “purposes of schools” discussed earlier in Chapter 1 of this book.

9.   With few exceptions, the student voice is accorded little formal place in Canadian school governance. As yet, students are not generally included in the concept of “the public” to which schools are accountable. Suggest ways in which students could be given a greater part in the administration of their school systems.

10. Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a federal government ministry or department of education. Is this appropriate? Why or why not? What arrangements might be most suitable for the federal role in education?



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