The biggest issue facing us right now could be declining enrollments. It, along with our extra-curricular blunders, has caused chaos. It has closed schools, threaten jobs and moved teachers regardless of your seniority. We can slow this or stop this through two advantages: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and our school system.
MOOCs are becoming the future of post-secondary institutes (here and here). While some do see the limits or failings of them, online courses can be a boon for enrollment. If we can’t get more kids into the classroom, then expand the classroom. A school board in Michigan recently went bankrupt, fired all of its staff and ended the school year. This is opportunity knocking on our door. As I have stated before, you do not need to be in Ontario to deliver an Ontario curriculum. The same can be said of anywhere else in the world. A local student in a DSBN classroom is worth $1200 of funding. A foreign student $1600. What is stopping us from offering that school board in Michigan (or anywhere else) an online alternative to save money? Online courses run by Ontario teachers offered to anyone in the world. If the DSBN doesn’t see the value then OSSTF can do it.
We have a top four education system. If this was private industry and I had a top four world product, my first thought would be how to sell this everywhere. Here, they try to demoralize, minimize and remove the people who make it world class. If education was a business, we would have been bought up or bankrupt a long time ago.
Our second opportunity is the planned Niagara GO Station. Once built it will open up Niagara to everyone working in Toronto, Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and probably more. Our lower priced properties can be a huge incentive to turn the Niagara region into a bedroom community for those trying to get away from the hustle and bustle. And the great thing about bedrooms is that they either have children in them or are quick to produce them. Why not offer a modern, world class education system to entice families to move here? Why can’t we, OSSTF D22, be the impetus to make it happen? How much this will benefit someone teaching in Fort Erie, I don’t know but we can come up with other equally strong ideas to help there if we work together.