Chapter Four: Law and Education


  1. Find a recent piece of legislation in your province that relates to education. This could be an amendment to a school or education act, or some other legislation that affected schools in a significant way. Think about which groups or interests might have favoured or opposed this legislation. Who gained or lost from its passage? Why? Using Hansard (the record of debates in the legislature), review the debate over this legislation. What arguments were advanced for and against the proposals? Why? Whose interests appear to have prevailed in the debate?
  2. Find a copy of a provincial regulation made under an education or schools act. What provisions are in the regulation? Why are these provisions not in the legislation itself? How often has the particular regulation been altered in the last five or ten years?
  3. Find and read a copy of a court decision (any level of court) on a recent case involving education. What arguments did the judges use to support their particular decision? Was their decision consistent with previous decisions on the same sort of case? Why or why not?
  4. Write a statement indicating whether or not you think the courts should play a greater role in Canadian schools. Give specific examples to support your point of view.
  5. Choose one of the pairs of rights listed in the section titled “The Meaning of ‘Rights’”. Illustrate how this distinction might apply to a specific instance of a legal issue involving schools.
  6. “Schools are not sufficiently respectful of the rights of their students.” Agree or disagree, supporting your answer with specific examples.
  7. Imagine you are a senior civil servant in the Department or Ministry of Education. You have been asked to give the minister advice on legal aspects of home schooling, write a brief (two-page) justification for the stance you have taken.
  8. You’ve been asked to create the local school student handbook that includes information on student discipline and searches. What would you write in this section?
  9. Arrange a class discussion of how schools can best deal with issues of violence. What should be the relative balance between educative measures, such as mediation programs, and disciplinary measures, such as zero tolerance or suspension policies?
  10. Most student councils in high schools are primarily concerned with social activities. Should student councils assume a more active role in the governance of the school? Why or why not? If yes, how could such a change be fostered?
  11. Assume that you wish to develop a class website (Facebook or other). What kinds of privacy legislation and policies would you have to adhere to in your province? What kinds of material would you be or not be allowed to add on to the website, and why? How might you go about obtaining permission to use information that may have to be treated delicately because of privacy issues?