It's Our Own Knowledge
Labour, Public Education, and Skills Training
Davis, Julie (ed.)
Publisher: OFL Conference on Education and Training1989
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX4122
A policy paper passed by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) in the 1980's bluntly stated that "our school system operates against the interests of the children of working people." This book, a compilation of papers presented at an OFL conference in May, 1989, addresses the issue of "streaming" and its consequences.
Streaming is the practise by which students are divided into informal or formal groups based on the teacher's judgment of their abilities -- "a sorting from which few will ever recover." Jim Turk writes that study after study has revealed that "grouping reflects social standing more that any measure of achievement or ability. The bottom-stream programs in any school board are almost entirely populated by working class children."
Some of the solutions proposed by the contributors include shifting the focus from equal opportunity to equal outcomes -- "There can be no equal opportunity unless there are equal outcomes" and changing education through politics (the NDP specifically). One paper presents a prioritized, seven-step reform system (including training, staffing, organized parents, etc.). Other papers discuss the role of education in improving the worker's lot in general.
One of the book's more startling passages is a quote from Ronald Edmonds, a former Assistant Superintendent of New York schools: "We can, whenever we choose, successfully educate all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need, in order to do this. Whether we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't done it so far ..."