Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Campaign Update: Ryan Meili

Ryan's Education Platform: LINK
Ryan's Early Childhood Platform: LINK

With the holiday season approaching, time for blogging tends to slow down a little bit though I will do my best to continue to post as regularly as I can.

As such, I'm a bit behind at examining Ryan Meili's recently released Education platform plank. In addition to focusing on education in terms of how the province interacts with schools, Ryan's policy as also included 'downstream' measures to enhance early childhood at the same time. So, let's start with the early childhood policies and then take a look at the education plan.

The focus of Ryan's early childhood revolves around  an integrated approach in dealing with childcare and early education programs; coupled with a focus on providing the resources needed by parents within the province.

Ryan's plan calls for supporting parents through learning classes and mentorship, with a focus on young parents and vulnerable populations and a re-establishment of the Teen and Young Parent Program in Saskatoon and across the province; improve maternity leave pay to the level seen in Quebec and other OECD countries and expand those benefits across the parental leave period; earmarking at least two months leave for fathers.

Ryan's plan for childcare calls for bringing in experts to examine the creation of a made-in-Saskatchewan "Quebec Model" of childcare; working to bring together childcare, child education, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten to ensure the best outcome for children; work with existing facilities and childcare co-ops to to develop capacity for expansion; ensure school boards have the resources to provide before and after school services; support training opportunities to increase the number of childcare workers and educators in the province.

Ryan's plan for working within the education model calls for the offering of half day and full day kindergarten options for all four year olds; provide funding for integrated age appropriate learn-through-play pre-kindergarten content for children 2 and up in childcare; ensure training for childcare employees provides includes a focus on education not just supervision.

We'll take a moment to talk about those ideas before we look at the remaining education planks. Of the policies brought forward, I think the one that stands out the most is the re-tooling of training to ensure that education is focused on as well as supervision. There is a lot to be said in making sure that children are being given a chance to learn prior to entering into the education system, and I think its certainly worth talking about addressing ways to provide those opportunities.

So, let's take a look at the education planks laid out by Ryan's campaign.

Ryan's plan for the K - 12 system calls for an expansion on the community school model and introduce community supports; allow local communities to set their own mill rates to ensure stable funding; partner with the Federal Government to address the gap in funding to Aboriginal Schools; involve rural communities in finding solutions that allow communities to address closing K - 6 schools; introduce the Roots of Empathy program into the curriculum to ensure students develop empathy, emotional intelligence, and conflict resolution skills.

Ryan's plan for the post secondary education system calls for the establishment of a legacy fund from resource revenues to fund accessible and high quality post-secondary education; reverse underfunding of universities and reinforce the principle of public education as a public good; reinstate the tuition freeze and work towards lowing tuition fees as finances allow; increase the amount and number of entry and continuing education scholarships; make student loans simpler and more accessible with a larger amount being forgivable; create a student loan system that is more response to those who pursue their education part time.

Out of those planks, I think the appeal to the Roots of Empathy program is the one that stands out the most. Any part of real education reform means changing the approach to not just what we teach, but also how we teach the next generation. I think it's an interesting concept, and should stand as a good first step in addressing how we need to change the education system in the years to come.

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