Wouldn’t this be thoughtful public policy for Atlantic Canada?
Charter Schools in Atlantic Canada? What a radical idea. Atlantic Canada’s education system already lags behind the rest of Canada’s in many ways. Jurisdictions right across North America, including those which already boast superior public education systems, have established charter schools because they clearly understand the advantages such schools offer public education. Can Atlantic Canada afford to fall even further behind? Would that be fair to its young people?
In fact, Atlantic Canadians now have an opportunity to go one better and lead Canada in establishing charter schools. Although close to five hundred charter schools have now been established in the United States and thousands more in Britain and New Zealand, within Canada only Alberta has charter legislation. That legislation, however, is flawed, and Atlantic Canada can surely do better.
The charter idea is particularly important now that provincial governments are cutting expenditures. As will be discussed below, charter school legislation can produce a bigger bang for the educational buck. It holds forth the promise of saving good schools slated for closure, opening new and innovative schools and stimulating existing schools in the region to higher levels of performance.
Clearly, the Atlantic provinces have many parents and teachers who would be most interested in opportunities such as those described above. Thousands of parents feel that their schools and school boards are not responsive to their wishes, and many in the teaching community are sick at heart over teaching conditions, mounting stress, and a sense of helplessness. Many teachers feel that they have become scapegoats for a system that is not working well.
Could these dramatic scenarios occur in the Atlantic provinces? Well, for the many Atlantic Canadians who might ask, the answer is YES.