Local and Urban Politics

E04 - Education Politics and Policy in Canada

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 01:45pm to 03:15pm | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Elliot Chi-Kuen Fung (University of Ottawa)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Jack Lucas (University of Calgary)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Jonathan Montpetit (CBC)

What history, for what nation? The narrative framework of French- and English-language history curricula in Ontario from a comparative perspective: Stéphanie Chouinard (Royal Military College), Jennifer Wallner (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: Public education plays an essential role in a state's nation-building aspirations. Through common courses and programs, schools help forge and transmit shared narratives of the past, build a collective understanding of the present and establish a common vision of the future. This challenge presents itself differently in multinational states, however, where several national communities, while not necessarily sharing a common understanding of the past, nevertheless strive to coexist within a common state structure. In Canada, a polynational federation, differences have already been observed in the history curricula of the ten provinces - and in particular in that of Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province where the Canadian and Quebec history course has become the site of a power struggle between federalist and subsequent separatist governments (Beauchemin and Fahmy-Eid 2014; Déry 2018; Moreau and Smith 2019). But very few authors have focused on the distinctions found in the programs taught to students in majority (Anglophone) and minority (Francophone) schools (Wallner and Chouinard 2023), including accredited by the same province.

Shared Rule and Self-Rule in School Governance: Building a Policy Index School Board Autonomy and Local Responsiveness: Jim Farney (University of Regina)
Abstract: Much recent work on school or parental choice in Canada (Asadolahi et al 2022a; Farney and Banack 2023; Bosetti and Gereluk 2016) has focussed on how policy regimes create opportunity structures for parents to choose between public and various forms of private education. But, there are both good theoretical reasons (Asadolahi et al 2023b) and practical ones (see Ontario’s debates over curricular streaming or the status of French Immersion education) to believe that the key context of parental choice is that which occurs within the public system. This paper will propose a policy index measuring he autonomy of local public school boards with the goal of assessing their changing ability to respond to dynamic pressures for choice from parents and other stakeholders in locally sensitive ways.

The ABC’s of School Governance: Rachel Laforest (Queen's University)
Abstract: The role of School Boards and of school boards trustees is one of the most understudied areas in political science. As provincial governments have centralized financial matters and put more limits on governance areas for school board trustees, many have put in question the relevance of conducting elections for education, particularly considering the low turn-out of voters (Piscitelli and Perrella, 2022). This paper will provide a first count analysis of the role of trustees and school boards in the management of citizenship rights. It will discuss the many ways School Boards are protecting minority interest in organizational. Ultimately, it will argue that education systems are important spaces of active citizenship. They do more than just provide educational services; they are vital pillars in the construction of the French community in minority settings.

A LERT Alert? Localized Emergency Remote Teaching and the Methodological Challenge of School Board Secrecy: Michael Murphy (Queen's University)
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning at a massive scale, with institutions at all levels of learning pivoting rapidly to online and remote platforms on an emergency basis. While the scope was unprecedented, earlier research on responses to Hurricane Katrina in the United States and SARS in Hong Kong reveals that COVID-19 was not the first crisis that led to the implementation of online learning tools. Since the lifting of lockdown measures, localized emergencies have led to time-limited pivots to online learning platforms, most notably in the K-12 education sector in Ontario, which faced staffing pressures, severe winter weather, and labour actions through the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years. While these cases are known anecdotally, there has been no systematic research on this practice or its implications for educational institutions in other jurisdictions and at other levels. This project draws on interview data, systematic literature review, and digital ethnographic methods to discuss the impact of localized emergency remote teaching (LERT) policies in Ontario school boards from a governance perspective. However, the project also recognizes the methodological barriers that researchers often encounter when developing school board governance research. Drawing on emergent debates on methodological strategies for navigating secrecy in security studies, this presentation considers how critical methods can help overcome the school board secrecy challenge. As such, the alerts raised around the LERT study serve as a secondary opportunity for reflection on methodology and governance.