School shopping with the School Information Finder

It’s hard to argue against having too much information, especially when your dealing with information about schools. Unfortunately, this is my task as I tilt against the nemesis of Ontario’s public education system: the Ontario Ministry of Education’s School Information Finder website.

This handy little device allows anyone to pull up statistics on any publicly-funded school in Ontario, elementary or secondary.  It will provide math and literacy achievement data as compared to the provincial average.  This is dangerous in itself as it could easily be used by parents for school shopping, but it could be argued that such information should be transparent as taxpayer’s money pays for the testing so the results should be made available.

But scroll further down on the website and you will find more disturbing information published:

  • the percentage of students who live in lower-income households;
  • the percentage os students whose parents have some university education;
  • the percentage of students who receive special education services and
  • the percentage of students who are new to Canada from a non-English speaking country.

Huh?  Why is this information pertinent unless the Ontario Ministry of Education is purposely encouraging parents to shop around for children’s schools?

But while such a website may be a boon for real estate agents, what a devastating blow it is to neighbourhoods and communities.  The goal of public education is to ensure fair and equal access to learning, not to encourage schools to compete with one another or for more able families to congregate their children at schools with more favourable stats.

In case you question the intent of the School Information Finder, please note that originally the website was accompanied with a cute-sounding application called “school bag” which actually allowed users to directly compare up to three schools.  After howls of derision, this application was removed, but the government stubbornly supports the SIF website . . . this despite letters from every major education organization in the province, including People for Education.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Politics

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