Thursday 20 January 1994

Annual report, Provincial Auditor, 1993: Ministry of Education and Training


*Chair / Président: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Duignan, Noel (Halton North/-Nord ND)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente: Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L)

*Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)

*Callahan, Robert V. (Brampton South/-Sud L)

*Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East/-Est ND)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

*Murphy, Tim (St George-St David L)

O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Perruzza, Anthony (Downsview ND)

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Akande, Zanana L. (St Andrew-St Patrick ND) for Mr O'Connor

Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC) for Mrs Marland

Haeck, Christel (St Catharines-Brock ND) for Mr Owens

Jordan, Leo (Lanark-Renfrew PC) for Mrs Marland

Marchese, Rosario (Fort York ND) for Mr Frankford

Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND) for Mr O'Connor

Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC) for Mr Tilson

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Ministry of Education and Training:

Doris, Jim, project leader, education finance reform, strategic funding team

Ferren, Peter, education officer, program policy support team, special education policy unit

Gauthier, Richard, leader, French-language education and programs

Lamontagne, Maurice, education officer, program policy support team, teacher education policy unit

Manti, Sante, director, youth employment services branch

Mason, Ron, education officer, central Ontario region

Pascal, Dr Charles, deputy minister

Poirier, Maurice, leader, curriculum and assessment team

Clerk / Greffier: Decker, Todd

Staff / Personnel: Anderson, Anne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1018 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Joseph Cordiano): This morning we're going to continue with the Deputy Minister of Education and Training. We're reverting to questions around special education, and we'll proceed in 20-minute intervals for each party.

Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): Dr Pascal, you've been quite forthcoming during the hearings on special education about your concerns with special education and the fact that you do feel there is some room for improvement and some things that you might like to do differently. I'll ask you the same question I posed yesterday, generically, about education: You have a second crack at it, the speech from the throne, but this time you're writing the section on special education.

We've talked in this committee at great length about the concerns that have been raised by parents, by educators, by people who work in the area of special-needs children. How would you answer the concerns that you've heard on the committee to date if you were trying to plot a new course for special education and improve what we have today?

Dr Charles Pascal: I should have anticipated that I might get this, but I didn't. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to respond. If the Deputy Minister of Education, who considers himself an educator, had an opportunity to write the throne speech, I would have the entire speech dedicated to education. There would be nothing else in it other than a few opening and closing remarks about the future and how important education is to it.

If I were to craft some words down the road, and we talked yesterday about a hypothetical framework, I would begin by quoting extensively Mr Weber's comments. I would have to paraphrase them or quote them, depending on what editorial licence I might be given, and I would frame the remarks in a very positive way.

There are two ways of framing comments about what we've done in special education in Ontario since Dr Stephenson introduced Bill 82 in 1980. One approach is: "Can you believe how many problems we have? After 14 years, we still have these problems." Another way of framing them, as Professor Weber does in his book, is: "Can you believe the incredible accomplishments that have taken place since 1980 in special education? Can you imagine that after centuries of dealing with children and adults who have handicaps in a custodial way -- `Let's just do something to help them deal with their handicaps, let's focus on what they can't do instead of focusing on what they can do, instead of catching people doing things right' -- can you imagine, after literally a century of organized education, how far the educators of this province, particularly the front-line teachers and those who lead them, have come? The number of individuals with special needs who have been early identified and are provided opportunities? The speed with which the system went from 1980 to full implementation in 1985 and the consequences for individuals such as those referred to by Mr Callahan a few days ago with respect to the invisible handicap, for example, of LD students?"

So I would begin my draft remarks for the government of the day with a very positive statement of what has happened and I would talk about the important characteristics of the legislation which were designed to ensure inclusiveness and individualization.

I would talk about IPRC and I would also indicate as an unobtrusive indicator of the success of the system that, after 14 years, the number of tribunal cases that have come forth is relatively small, given the thousands of IPRC processes that have taken place. I would talk about the 170,000 or 180,000 students who are accommodated quite well without the IPRC process, whom we haven't discussed in the last couple of days. I would talk about the annual reporting process and the special education advisory committees that are supposed to be extant within the board.

Then I would segue into the kinds of issues that have been tabled by the Provincial Auditor and I would be very forthcoming. I would recommend very forthcoming language about the fact that in the area of follow-up and monitoring -- again, you caution me through your professional development advice about throne speeches getting too specific. I would talk about the fact that there need to be far better accountability measures in terms of issues arising and the ministry's follow-up.

I would somewhere, either in the speech from the throne or a subsequent ministerial statement, make sure that as we tighten up our accountability measures, we recognize that the ministry has to be the quality assurance mechanism to make sure it all happens, with the Provincial Auditor and public accounts and others holding us accountable for doing that.

But in the exercise of the ministry's responsibilities we will never be able to have education officers looking over the shoulder of every supervisory officer in the province. What we need to do is make sure that the evaluation mechanisms are intelligent, accessible to parents, that they're working, and we need to make sure we have an effective means of evaluating the evaluation mechanisms.

I would try to frame that in more general language, put it positively in terms of the accomplishments, be very forthcoming about the fact that there are issues that are still extant that make it less than perfect. I would be very forthcoming about that, and make some very aggressive statements about how to solve those problems.

Ms Poole: You mention the part about accountability in your speech from the throne. I had an interesting conversation with a person from the Ministry of Education the other day, who said there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that the moneys that were going to the boards for special education were being spent on special education, and in fact in most cases the moneys being given by the ministry were being exceeded by the board, that they were putting in their own dollars.

So it would be not a matter of the board spending the money on other areas within the education system that did not relate to special education; it's a matter of we don't know if the dollars are being spent effectively within special education itself. Is that a fair comment?

Dr Pascal: The issue of effectiveness vis-à-vis the dollars that are spent is something I have difficulty answering. I think that's one of the issues. The issue of all the dollars that are allocated to school boards in terms of the $14-billion expenditure and having greater transparency for everybody to be able to see how the dollars are being spent and how they relate to outcomes is at the heart of everything we've discussed about accountability. That is part of education finance reform and it not only holds for special education but educational expenditure across all other functions of a school system.

Ms Poole: I'd like to go to the IPRC, the identification and placement review process. There has been over the years a number of ways in which it has been criticized. Mr Ferren referred to one himself, I think, in the opening question on special education several days ago when he said one of the criticisms that parents have is that there is a barrage of staff and it's somewhat intimidating to face all these various experts. Those weren't your words, Mr Ferren, but that was the import of it.

I've been through the IPRC process as a parent and it was a very pleasant process for me, because my child was identified by the school, by the teacher, as going into the gifted program, which is always very reassuring as a parent to think that your child somehow got intelligence from somewhere, probably your spouse, actually. But the staff were all very supportive of it, so it was really a rubber stamp.

When I was looking around at the experts, I thought how intimidating it would be if you went in and they had a different message to deliver, that your child was very troubled, needed help in certain areas, but that you as a parent fundamentally disagreed with their premise and you felt it wasn't the child as much as perhaps the teacher or the education system or the school or the attitude or something like that. I'm thinking how few resources many parents would have to overcome this. It's pretty intimidating when you have a psychologist and a consultant and all the experts facing you across the table and there's just you.

Has the ministry developed any type of parent assist that is outside the formal education system? I'm trying to say somebody who isn't part of that school system, somebody who can almost act as an advocate.

Dr Pascal: An ombudsperson advocate.

Ms Poole: Exactly. Have you thought of doing something like that? To the best of my knowledge, that isn't presently in place, although I know with the LD association that they do provide assistance, but have you thought of doing something like that?

Dr Pascal: Mr Chair, if I could move from Ms Poole's previous question, which put me in the role of drafting some words for a hypothetical throne speech, where I talked about IPRC and the fact that it's served it well, I said some very positive things about it in terms of the number.

As a matter of fact, if I had quoted Weber I would have said, "However, experience has shown that appeal in litigation becomes a factor in only a tiny number of cases. The fact that thousands of IPRCs held in the first eight years after the final implementation of Bill 82 generated less than two dozen tribunals and only four court cases suggests very strongly that Bill 82 and the IPRC process have been quite successful."

If I can move from the throne speech and say that -- in fact obviously Weber, who's part of the tribunal process, is a professor; he's very well thought of and the committee itself quoted him to me, which is how I discovered his book -- I would put another face on it. I would argue with Professor Weber and I think you would probably join me in this, that if the process is not seen by parents to be emotionally and intellectually accessible, then we have a selection bias at play here in terms of the number of parents who brought cases to the IPRC process. So we may not have had the number of people using the process because, unlike perhaps you or myself or other members around this table, individuals didn't find it accessible.

I think you've raised an issue which is a legitimate one to raise and I think you've raised a solution which is really quite worthy of evaluation. One answer would be that the process under way right now that is evaluating the IPRC process, we should ensure that your question is answered by them satisfactorily in terms of accessibility. Peter may be able to help me in terms of what's already at play there.


Secondly, I think the broader question of inclusiveness and parent participation and demystifying the system and making it culturally, linguistically and intellectually available to all parents for all issues involving education has got to be part of the preoccupation of the Ontario Parent Council that has been recently set up. Peter, do you want to add to that?

Mr Peter Ferren: Yes, Charles. In reference to the comments that were made by the questioner about whether consideration had been given to a type of advocate, maybe we'd call him an ombudsperson, actually, during an earlier examination of the IPRC process and looking at various models, internally we discussed that type of person who might be able to provide assistance and direction to school boards. That may be one person identified for a region. This is the type of thing we were just considering and examining.

But what does happen right now is that the regional offices do provide assistance and advice to school boards in relation to the operation of IPRCs to the extent that they can. Obviously, it's a weakness and it needs to be addressed, but we did give thought to it. Obviously, the process is under review now.

Dr Pascal: We should give thought to it and we should also evaluate, in a sense, the advocacy groups that are part of the special education advisory committees, their role in not only representing people at large but what they do to educate their various constituencies. I know from my own experience through social services that the Ontario Association for Community Living is very actively involved in empowering not just parents but individuals who have challenges as well in the process.

Ms Poole: I know Mr Callahan has a question which he's eager to get out, but I just wanted to make one last comment. I think it might be quite helpful if the ministry ensured that school boards give out information to the parents to tell them their options and perhaps suggest different organizations that might be able to help them, particularly to help them understand the IPRC process.

Mr Ferren: Many of the school boards do that now, but that's also an item that's under consideration in the review of the process, with reference to the parent guide.

Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): I've had expressed to me -- and I've dealt with a lot of learning-disabled kids over the eight and a half years I've been in the Legislature -- the concern that although you can appeal the placement, you can't appeal the program. You have no way of appealing the program. I think that's regulation 305 or something to that effect.

A lot of these parents are concerned about that. It seems as though what they're being told -- and maybe that's appropriate; I don't know -- is that, "We know best, and this is the program you're going to get." Would anyone like to comment on that? I think the auditor actually addresses it on page 81; maybe not, but I got the impression that he was addressing it.

Mr Ferren: There was earlier consideration, even in the drafting of Bill 82, going back a number of years, of an identification and placement review committee. But anyway, during the consultation on the integration of exceptional pupils and during our recent consultations with partners around future directions in special education, the issue of program is a very important one as far as the IPRC is concerned. What is under consideration now and what has been recommended for many groups is that at least the IPRC, and that it's spelled out legally in the regulation, discusses program at that particular time, but not that program be appealable. That's what we're getting right now.

Mr Callahan: I've had numerous conversations with parents of young people, particularly with learning disabilities, who have felt that was their greatest frustration, that: "Okay, they identify my child. There's a placement, but is the program that's in place having any benefit for the child?"

I guess that's what the auditor was saying: "Procedures to evaluate the variety of special education programs and services offered by school boards were not adequate to determine whether these programs and services were the most appropriate and cost-effective in meeting the needs of all exceptional pupils."

I gather what the auditor's saying is that the ministry should have a hand in this, but I can recognize too that the ministry would be busy at just that if that's all they were doing. Maybe by providing an appeal procedure of the program you'd establish some set of circumstances through which the parents themselves could in fact monitor the program. I don't know whether that's clear.

Mr Ferren: Certainly the comments that have been made and the recommendations that have been made we could take under active consideration. Perhaps the issue that comes to mind is in the review of the SEAC process and in reconsideration of their particular role, that is a valuable role that committee could play for any school board in terms of the quality of programs and the types of programs and services that are provided for all the exceptional pupils within that jurisdiction. Certainly what you've recommended we can take under consideration.

Mr Callahan: I want to compliment you gentlemen on your ties. It's a good thing we've got colour television. I think they should take a snapshot of the ties.

Dr Pascal: This tie, which was designed by Todd, age 12, for the save the child program just reminds members that, if they want to ask questions on school board transportation, if I could just have a little bit of warning.

Mr Noble Villeneuve (S-D-G & East Grenville): There is considerable controversy over the transportation aspect in the area I represent. However, I believe we're looking back to some of the special education projects.

I had a constituent fax me some information. It pertains to an area of exceptionality known as attention-deficit disorders. Apparently 10 years ago that diagnosis didn't exist. I understand it's prevalent in about 10% of the boys in the school system and some 3% of the girls. Could you confirm those figures? I was alarmed when I heard those figures.

Mr Ferren: I cannot be specific in confirming whether it's 2% or 3%. I think that percentage is high.

Mr Villeneuve: I would hope so. However, there are people within the system who are much more knowledgeable than I who have made that statement.

Mr Ferren: Usually pupils with attention-deficit disorder come in under the learning disabilities category and in talking about the percentage of pupils with learning disabilities, that could be from 3% to 5% of the pupil population. Those with attention-deficit disorders certainly would not be at that percentage.

Mr Ron Mason: Actually, the figures internationally for learning disability vary somewhere between 5% and 10% of the population. It is higher with boys than with girls for learning disabilities.

Within the area of learning disabilities, it's quite conceivable the figures you've just given might be a percentage of that particular group. They would certainly, from my experience, although it is a newly diagnosed area, seem very, very high.

The numbers we're seeing are quite small. I'm looking in Metropolitan Toronto and at the moment we're barely into double figures of truly diagnosed -- and I say "truly;" there's a medical component to making an accurate diagnosis here -- of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. I would think those figures are quite high.


Mr Villeneuve: Now, the ministry considers this particular problem, attention-deficit disorder, as an exceptional child?

Mr Mason: Yes. Again, in looking at the various assessments and going back to an IPRC, you obviously need more than an educational assessment to determine that particular disability. It's a term that tends to be used fairly readily.

Mr Villeneuve: It covers a wide spectrum.

Mr Mason: That's correct. When there's a behavioural problem, there is often a tendency to use that term without looking further to determine whether that's the true nature of the problem. There are a number of diagnosable disorders that result in behaviour problems. That's one of them. So IPRCs, in looking at that, really are requiring much more information.

Dr Pascal: Yes. You might have, obviously, time on task and attendance to task, which is an overt example of the disorder you're talking about. It could very well be that what is behind it is short-term memory transition to long-term memory. Even though that's been invented as a label to describe something that may have a discrete character to it, there's an awful lot of other similar LD characteristics that exhibit the same kind of behaviour, which is difficulty in staying on task.

Mr Villeneuve: There are 170 school boards across the province of Ontario, and I'm sure they all attempt to address these problems in a slightly different way. Do you have monitoring? On the first day of the hearings here I was kind of questioning to the effect that if you have a board that seems to be out of whack on percentages, do you have a way of trying to quantify or trying to use a yardstick, so that people understand that this is a problem? Some boards may want to disregard it; others may put more emphasis on it.

Dr Pascal: The structure that's in place, the process in place, as you know from the auditor's report, is that the special education advisory committees submit an annual comprehensive special education report which summarizes the boards' activity and their plans. The ministry's role is to analyse those reports and report back to the local board what should happen as a result of that.

There is some inconsistency about the follow-up from the ministry in terms of implementation of the ministry's advice as per the auditor's report. We're concerned about that and we will tighten that up effectively.

You're asking a question about whether or not, as a result of all of those annual reports, the ministry does an evaluation across the board. I believe we do, and I believe, Ron, you've probably been involved in that in the last couple of days, if I'm not mistaken.

Mr Mason: That's correct. The report this year came in December 31. Normally, it's May 15.

That report is a report on the review that is mandated in the legislation. The board must review its special education plan, which is a plan for programs and services. That must happen. Then the report comes via the SEAC to the board, where it's approved by the board and submitted to the ministry.

The report includes -- and this is consistent in all the regions now -- a report on the types of programs that are being delivered, and it shows the predominant type. So there would be a predominant delivery mode, plus other delivery modes in the board.

Our job is to analyse that, to analyse the kind of staff that are involved in special ed, any amendments that the board has made that are significant changes to their plan and then, to the best of our ability, and this is an increasingly difficult job because of the numbers of people doing it, we submit a report in the form of a letter back to the board. If we do have concerns, or if the board is not in compliance, or we have concerns about the way they're delivering any changes, that is put in the letter.

Again, we talked about moral suasion the other day. That goes back, it becomes then a public document. The board deals with it through trustees, and the special-ed advisory committee, which is parent associations, deals with it. Often then, they're back to discuss it with us and we'll have some direct contact. Then that report has been coming down to the special education unit for analysis across the province.

Mr Villeneuve: The funding support financially for special ed is 100% through the ministry. Is it through GLGs or a special type of funding?

Mr Mason: I could start that. The GLGs have a portion, as was pointed out the other day, that is allocated for special education. That goes to the board through the GLGs and of course through the financing to school boards. There is a portion that is funding from the ministry and a portion that is acquired locally. The boards determine with those two items how they're going to fund their special education programs.

The additional would be special grants for students who are deaf, blind etc, the in lieu grants, grants for section 27, and there is some grant availability for specialized equipment. That's the source of the funds for special education.

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): I'm not sure whether anyone did discuss the select committee on education, 1990, yesterday. My colleague may have touched upon it, but I'm not sure.

I just wanted to remind the Ministry of Education that some of the recommendations that the auditor has brought to our attention for further work and attention were the same recommendations that were obtained in the fourth report of the select committee on education in June 1990.

I suppose what I'd like to ask the deputy at this point in time is, when we do have a report of this type, what kind of action would be taken by the ministry?

I'll give you just an example of the recommendations. Recommendation number 25 said, "The Ministry of Education ensure that all parents have equitable and adequate access to assistance and advocacy services within the identification and placement review process." It seems to me that if a committee of this Legislative Assembly was that specific, that would be one area that the auditor wouldn't be pointing out as an area of concern. It's a sense of frustration, I think.

Dr Pascal: I think the question is a good one, generally as well as specifically. In general, if you're asking me what ministries and deputy ministers should do in response to reports such as the select committee on education, regardless of the status of any report, whether it's a legislative committee -- certain types of reports have more visibility and authority, royal commissions and commissions of various types and select committees -- it's our responsibility to ensure that good ideas that call attention to gaps in service or the difference between the policy and its implementation on the ground, that those things be taken seriously, full stop.

With respect to what the ministry did in relation to those specific items, since I've only been here for about 10 months, I can't answer directly exactly what the ministry did with each of the recommendations of the select committee. There may be someone here who can.

The issue of parent involvement and, in particular, as we said a few moments ago, making the IPRC process more intellectually and emotionally accessible, as I said about a half-hour ago, is extremely important and will be redressed as part of the current review. Members of this committee have been extremely helpful in pointing out the painful consequences to parents and families where that process has not been perceived to be accessible to them. It remains a problem. The issue of how long it has taken for that issue to be redressed I think is a fair question and I accept the criticism.


Mrs Cunningham: I guess maybe what was pointed out in the very beginning is that we want to move forward. Since I at least intend to be here for a few more years, there will be some continuity somewhere, but that doesn't mean to say that it has to be political. There ought to perhaps be more continuity within the ministry itself.

I don't think people can accomplish these kinds of goals within five years. I think people have to decide which ones they work on quickly and which ones they have to take more time for. But at least I've been around long enough to say to the public now, when I'm asked to speak, that basically in education we've been talking for the last five to eight years in many areas. We know what we should do. My criticism is that we haven't had the political will to do it.

The criticism in many of the documentaries that we're looking at -- and especially an American one of a couple of weeks ago on behalf of three governors of states who went in with their main aim being to change and make more relevant the education and training, and I underline the training because that's what they were really after -- their point was that they were totally unable to make a difference even in eight years as governors.

Two of the states I've visited and have understood that there are many wonderful programs, but they're not state-wide. They blame the education community itself. They said there wasn't the will within the education community for change. I wondered if you'd like to remark on that, given that we've just had a specific example of where the change hasn't taken place.

Dr Pascal: As, in a sense, a person from Mars coming in from the outside -- although I've been an educator for 28 years in Ontario, my direct work in the elementary-secondary area has been limited. While we can celebrate many of the successes of yesterday and today -- and they are many as a result of a very large number of outstanding teachers and those who lead those teachers -- change is difficult.

I think there are forces at play that make the kind of sustained change, that is, from policy implementation, policy development, as in the case of Bill 82 under Dr Stephenson's leadership, to tough-minded, consistent implementation -- as I quoted earlier, Weber describes what's happened in 13 years, as the date of publication is June 1993 -- a major success story. But there are problems that remain extant in the system. There are forces at play, as I've suggested, that mitigate against change being sustained. If you want to explore those in detail, I'd be pleased to do so; I don't want to take up too much of your time.

I think you've alluded to one, and that is, within the bureaucracy. It's important to sustain a fairly good amount of constant leadership within the bureaucracy in this. But I think there are problems with change and there are people who are resistant to change. I think the educational system needs to be more open to those who are outside of the system. I think Jennifer Lewington and Dr Orpwood's book on education reform, which is a popularly accessible thing to read, talks about some of the problems with the system in that regard.

I think again a good change will come about if there's a self-confidence that we need to bring together doers who think and thinkers who do. Making it very accessible to parents, empowering parents and classroom teachers, front-line teachers to be given opportunities to be far more involved in the process are part of the solution.

The Acting Chair (Mr Noel Duignan): There are a number of new members here this morning. While the committee agreed to concentrate a little on special education this morning, we did leave it up to committee members. If they wished to ask questions of the other areas of the auditor's report, that was fine, and if the ministry didn't have those particular staff here this morning, they would certainly get back to the member's question in written form.

Mrs Cunningham: Just to follow up on a philosophical discussion in a sense, but to let the ministry know that I found in audiences just yesterday in London, in two different locations where I spoke on education, that teachers who had left the profession left it because of their inability to get the job done.

I think it's interesting that they should stand up in public groups and say that. These weren't particularly political arenas where people were trying to one-up the other person. They were thoughtful arenas where people were finding solutions. I thought I'd bring to you that they thought there wasn't the continuity within the ministry, where there had been some success in getting good curriculum implemented, which is what isn't happening in my view.

With regard to special education, I'm wondering if the ministry has thought of what happens at the other end, assuming there will be more attention paid to the outcomes with regard to the individual child, because I think that's where the emphasis has to be. I have not got the time of day for the paperwork any more. I don't even want to see it. I think most good teachers know exactly what they ought to do, and where there are mature teachers who are role models for younger teachers in schools, they can make sure the good curriculum is available and implemented.

In special education, it will change with every single child. So if someone's wasting their time in trying to write a document that's going to suit a whole group of young people, they can forget it. What they need are probably 100 ideas that may work or not work with every child, and it may change from week to week and month to month.

There will never be a simple answer in my view, but there is a simple answer to a parent coming in and saying, "Where is the progress over a period of two or three months and what can I do?" and just as important, the teacher saying to the parent, "You have a responsibility here."

I've got two questions. What kind of authority does the school board have with regard to -- I think demanding would be too tough, but I think it's realistic in today's society for so many parents who are giving up their responsibilities in the education and training of their own children. I had two in my office yesterday who decided to leave home at age 15, and their parents were happy to let them go. You and I pay for that. They happen to be in special education classes in our schools and under the authority of the courts. It's expensive. What authority does the teacher have in demanding some support from families and what happens if it doesn't take place?

My second question would therefore be, what happens when we get the success story and the child becomes a teenager and he should be working in cooperative programs? Where does the school board have the finances to provide what I would call job shadowing? I think a 14- or 15-year-old is capable of being out in the world of work in the form of training, especially the kinds of students we're talking about in this format. Where are we, given the success of job coaching in this province? Those are the successful programs. Are we bothering to do it?

Dr Pascal: Let me respond to two very important areas of questioning. First of all, we discussed very briefly yesterday the very important issue of mutual responsibility in terms of parents and guardians, a very difficult policy. The short answer to your question, does the school board have the authority to command x participation and so on and so forth, is no.

Many years ago when I was in Montreal as a professor of psychology, I also did some part-time work under a foundation grant on training parents and teachers and siblings of kids with special challenges on how to deal with those special challenges. Because it was under a grant that I achieved, I was able to invite into the program and allow into the program only those where everybody who was in that child's life was involved.

If the father of the child said, "I'm too busy, I go to New York six days a week and I can't be involved," I didn't accept them into the program. I could do that because this was an experimental program. The success rate, of course, because we had full involvement of all those who are part of the children's lives, was enormous in that project.


If I can segue from my experience at the Montreal Children's Hospital to Ontario today and our school system generally, the issue of guardian and parent participation remains an extremely important policy issue. What are the positive consequences we can bring to bear for involvement, and the more difficult question you raise, the very difficult policy question, what are the sanctions with non-involvement?

I hope Mr Cooke sees fit to refer such a question to the parent council because we all know intuitively and anecdotally that the kitchen table is a very powerful sustaining force in terms of the support for a child, all kids along the continuum, not only exceptional kids but all children. That support at home, peers and parents and guardians, is absolutely essential and it should be and must be a shared responsibility for us to make the kinds of gains we're looking at.

The short answer is that the board doesn't have that authority but you've really pinpointed, I think, one of the most significant social policy issues around education that there is.

I'm just about to get gavelled. The job-shadowing question, I'd be glad to provide you my own personal views about what is happening and what could be. I don't want to belabour the time.

Mrs Cunningham: I think it's an important one if someone else wants to take it on. Maybe my colleague Ms Akande would pursue it a little bit. I'm sure she has a lot of experience in that regard. Thank you.

The Acting Chair: I've been somewhat lenient in time on each side. The questioning now turns to the government side, and bear in mind you've got three speakers: Mr Marchese, Mr Bisson and Ms Akande.

Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I have 10 issues I want to being up so I'll put my points very quickly.

I agree with Mr Pascal's comments in relation to Mr Weber. I found his comment extraordinary, the fact that we only had two parents appeal through the special education tribunal, and he argues that because of that the system is working; I find that an extraordinary opinion.

It's not working for a variety of reasons, and the reason why it's not working is that 99.9% of the parent population wouldn't have a clue how to get there, wouldn't have the knowhow of how to get there, the knowledge, the experience and the support; therefore only two people get to that appeal. Something is wrong. I think you were agreeing or I'm agreeing with you or you're agreeing with me that Mr Weber is totally off base in that regard.

Moving on to my second point: 8% of the entire student population is in special ed across the system. I suspect that in Metropolitan Toronto separate and public the figure is probably very high. The figures I've seen in the past, we had approximately 16% of the entire student population in special ed in the Toronto board a long time ago, so my suspicion is that in Metro separate and public the numbers are much higher. That number worries me. Does it worry any of you?

Mr Mason: The number isn't that high for identified exceptional pupils in Metropolitan Toronto. It varies somewhere, in some boards in Metropolitan Toronto, around 5% and up to over 10%, but over Metropolitan Toronto the identified exceptional pupils are not that high. If you're looking at special needs, obviously in Metropolitan Toronto there is a vast array of special needs, but identified exceptional pupils, I don't have the exact figures but they would not be as high as 16%.

Mr Marchese: No point in disputing the figures --

Mr Mason: They're high.

Mr Marchese: I believe they're higher than you think, but on the research paper we've got it's 8%: "In 1992-93 there were approximately 160,500 exceptional pupils, excluding students of provincial schools for the blind and deaf." So that's 8% of the total school population. Does that number worry any of you?

Mr Mason: Again, looking internationally, that is within the norms that one would expect.

Dr Pascal: In addition to that number, by the way, are another 170,000 students with special needs who are not part of the IPRC process being accommodated by the system. Does that number worry me? Well, it's a lot higher than it was before Bill 82, and I'm delighted by the number. The fact is identification of students, regardless of the numbers, allows for accommodation and individualization and intervention.

At one level I would love to see a society where we've advanced enough in terms of turning research into practice and prevention and dealing with the neurological connections to the LD syndromes so that we wouldn't have any students, but I would rather have a system that is identifying individuals with a variety of exceptional needs and doing something about them. So the number in and of itself doesn't bother me at all.

Mr Marchese: My personal opinion is that the number bothers me a great deal. I think it's incredibly high and there's something that we should do provincially and in all boards in terms of how we deal with this issue. But because I don't have a great deal of time to do that, I'm just going to move on and raise points.

The issue of integration versus segregation is of concern to me. Of course, we're moving into integration. I'm a serious opponent of segregation because I think once we have done that, we have secluded students who are not doing well in a way that they end up staying in special-ed programs for a long, long time.

As we move into integration, I have a serious concern as well, because that could produce the same effect. Unless we deal with students who have problems in a way that we integrate them academically in a way that we, as teachers, know how to deal with them, we will have produced the same effect in the end.

Segregating is bad. Integration, without the proper tools to deal with those students, can be equally destructive. Do you agree with that, and if you agree with that statement, what is it that we can do when we integrate students finally?

Dr Pascal: I don't want my comments about part of what Professor Weber said, which Mr Marchese and I completely agree upon, to imply that I haven't also been well educated by reading some of what he said about these issues.

What the Ontario government signalled in 1991, as per Mrs Boyd's statement in the Legislature, is that "the integration of exceptional pupils into local community classrooms should be the norm in Ontario wherever possible when such a placement meets the pupil's needs and where it is according to parental choice."

Weber talks, and I'll quote Weber in talking about the two camps in terms of integration and segregation, about the importance of this as a milestone in terms of public policy. Obviously Minister Cooke is in the process of following up on that policy direction in terms of making more specific accommodations to it.

But to quote Weber, "It was a proposal" -- referring to Mrs Boyd's comments in the Legislature -- "that seemed at once educationally sensible and politically astute, for it suggested that integration be considered the norm for special education practice in the province but at the same time that boards continue to offer a full range of educational placements in recognition of the fact that an integrated setting will not be appropriate for all students." So we're talking about a norm and almost all students as a very strong outcome in terms of integration.

Mr Marchese: Sure. I agree with that. I think we need to keep the various options all the time for the different needs, absolutely.

My comment on the integration model is that unless we get seriously involved with teacher training, we're going to have a lot of problems once we integrate students. So the teachers will need training, they'll need support, but in addition and in particular, training to be able to work with those students so that they are not completely abandoned.

That's my comment. You'll find opportunities to probably raise issues as we go on.

On the ombudsperson Dianne Poole talked about, it's an interesting concept, the whole notion of having an ombudsperson to deal with concerns that parents have. I'm a bit concerned about that notion, however, because I think that if you channel all problems that parents have through an ombudsperson, you never deal with systemic problems, you never deal with parents being involved in their local schools in an active way, which is what we really want. But you really can't obligate parents to be involved. What you need is a system -- provincial policy and then boards -- saying, "How do we get parents involved?"


Some boards are better than others. Some boards are probably way off base and some are more actively involved. You can't have sanctions for involvement nor can you obligate, but surely we know from all the research that is available that parent involvement is one of the key elements that one needs for the success of students. We know that's key, and yet so many boards lag behind.

Some boards have set up parent councils, parent involvement work groups. Some other boards wouldn't even think of it because they don't want parents to be involved, because, "We're the professionals and they're of course parents, and they're not as professional in this field as we are."

What we need is a systemic way to get parents involved, because we know their involvement is key. That's why I praised the initiative of the Ontario Parent Council, because I think through it we might get to this and hopefully convince boards that what we need is greater parental involvement, and what structures do we need to make sure that happens? Any disagreement with those things?

Dr Pascal: No, just a couple of quick comments about two of the points you made. With respect to the last point in terms of parent involvement, I would add to my response to Mrs Cunningham's earlier remarks about the importance of this area that in fact there are school boards out there which on the ground are doing an exceptional job, not waiting for public policy but really making sure that parent involvement is not only encouraged but rewarded, really meeting them wherever they need to be met, sometimes 90% of the way with some parents; in most cases, just making it a friendly place and being quite aggressive about developing different ways to involve parents. I should have stated that and I'm glad I've had an opportunity to do so.

With respect to special education teacher training, yes, we need to provide continued supports to classroom teachers, as Weber and others have commented, as we move successfully towards more and more integration, which has already become the norm. The classroom teacher who's there in what we've called regular classes -- an outstanding teacher already adapts to individual differences.

I don't want to diminish what Mr Marchese has said about the importance of special education specialty, but the special education specialists can also be mentors and coaches to those who have not had that experience. There are thousands and thousands of kids currently being accommodated by just outstanding teachers who adapt to individual differences without too much special education training and they're doing it quite well. So we have to draw a balance here in terms of what specific skills are required and what outcomes we are looking for.

Mr Marchese: Sure. I'm not making a negative comment when I say teachers need training, because I think a lot of them would say, "We want it."

Mrs Cunningham: They're asking for it.

Mr Marchese: Exactly, so it's not a negative comment at all. I have two other comments on the whole notion of parental involvement in literacy.

The reason many students do well, of course, is because they come from a background where on the whole they get that kind of training, so it's a class issue. Some of the parents are not abandoning their responsibility; it's just that some of them probably don't know what else to do as parents. They do their best and then when they're not doing well, they just don't quite know what else to do as parents. That connects to literacy, the fact that some parents don't have those kinds of skills.

I believe literacy should be part of a continuum in education delivery of programs. Some boards do not see providing literacy programs as their responsibility. I think it's the responsibility of boards, as part of that continuum, to provide them, because if parents are more literate, can read and write and know what it is they can do as parents to be more greatly involved, that will contribute to the success of students.

Does the ministry have a position with respect to literacy programs for adults?

Dr Pascal: Let me just pause for a moment. The hesitation is due to the fact that the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board also has a responsibility for pre-entry program in the literacy area and some responsibility and resources have been shifted over to the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board.

I'll tell you what we can do, Mr Chair, because I want to give a fulsome answer to what we're doing and not doing and the responsibilities.

Mr Marchese: We'll come back to it.

Dr Pascal: This afternoon, if there is a session this afternoon, or by a follow-up note, I really would like to give a complete answer rather than winging it.

Mr Marchese: That's fine. I appreciate that. I have other questions, but other members would like to put some.

Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): We have 10 minutes. I'll take five minutes and leave the rest for my colleague. I want more of an in-depth discussion about this, but I just have time to raise it to the deputy.

I have had the opportunity, like most other members, to meet with a number of teachers in the special education field. I have had the opportunity not only to talk to them, but also to visit some classrooms and see at first hand what is happening within the school system with regard to integrated classrooms when it comes to special education. Three things come up on almost every occasion, sometimes on the part of the parent but certainly on the part of the teacher. I know that you know these, but I just want to put these on the record none the less.

One of them is that teachers are feeling quite frustrated in some cases with regard to the whole question of the support needed on the part of the educator in the classroom, and some boards will do that better than others. A teacher will have some teacher's aide or somebody to assist with some of the tasks necessary in order to care for the child, as well as some of the educational tasks. But it's not universal across school boards. The poorer the board, the worse the situation is for both the child and the teacher.

The second thing is the real lack of materials for assisting the teacher in education. For example, in deaf education, I've seen children in classes who are profoundly deaf and are working with teachers who don't understand American sign language and there is really no meaningful communication going on between the child and the teacher. I know there's a real attempt on the part of those boards and on the part of those teachers to try to help, but there's really not the kind of support needed for the teachers to really prepare them to work with that child or to even supply the amount of translators needed in order to help.

It's not only when it comes to deaf education; it comes to a whole bunch of other questions when it comes to materials. For example, I was at the children's treatment centre in South Porcupine just recently, on Wednesday, with the junior minister for Health. A very simple thing when it comes to materials is if we'd only think, when we develop materials, of looking at the question of how accessible and how useful this material is when it comes to children who are deaf, when it comes to children who are either French or English; for example, a very simple thing, the trouble they had in order to go and find an alphabet for young children that shows "A is for apple." Well, in French, A is not for apple; P is for apple. All I'm saying is that if we'd look at those kinds of things and say, "A is for airplane; A is for avion," we don't have to go out and redevelop this stuff twice. It's available, it's there and it could be utilized. There's a real crying out on the part of teachers and on the part of parents for materials to help in education.

I leave it at that, because there's not enough time. Just a quick comment and I'll go on to my colleague. Is the ministry looking at trying to do something in order to assist those boards? I know it's a dollars and cents question, but at the same time, we do need to provide for the education of those children.

Mr Mason: The supports was the first part of your question and the supports are vast -- you just touched the surface on the supports -- mainly because, not only with integration, we've got an increasing number of pupils with very severe needs, partly through medical breakthroughs and the move from institutional care into community care, which means the schools have got a lot of needs in terms of providing supports. It's not only direct supports for the teacher in the classroom, which also gets into the realm of health support, but also professional support for that classroom teacher, and that's another element I think somebody else was getting at.

In terms of the deaf and the onset of ASL as being increasingly used, of course we've got some problems there because of the newness. Even though we fund interpreters directly from the ministry, the problem is getting qualified interpreters to support that situation. That should be addressed in time. We're getting more community college programs in interpreter skills. That's coming, but there is a lag there; no question about it.


Dr Pascal: The only thing I would add, in my own limited experience in the last number of months in terms of my school visitations, is that in visiting classrooms -- we have a school that is totally integrated -- my own anecdotal impression is that the rich school board differences aren't necessarily quite as you put it.

More importantly, I think the importance of your question in terms of best practice and sharing is something we're not doing well enough as a system, because there is some outstanding best-practice activity taking place in Ontario in terms of fully integrated classrooms with some very innovative supports and cost-effective supports. Some of those innovations, in my own recollection, are in places I wouldn't describe as rich boards.

Ms Zanana L. Akande (St Andrew-St Patrick): I'm going to go back to the question of integration, because I think it's an important one, and I know it's one that is of interest to several of my colleagues on both sides of the table. The reason is that there is an effect not only in the regular program for the special-ed children, but there is also an effect for the special-ed child who's been identified, himself or herself, and the teacher who is teaching them.

The arguments posed in Mr Weber's information are not new arguments; they have been there a long time. While I agree it's important that special-ed teachers or boards have flexibility in addressing students' problems, I also know from my previous role that it's extremely important to be addressing those problems, and that if it is the board's choice to have that student in an integrated setting for their special education program, it becomes very important that we know the dollars that are assigned to special education are being directed in a way that the child is still getting some special assistance with his or her needs. As it stands now, and from your answers, I do not have that assurance. Am I wrong?

Mr Jim Doris: It is true that the funding is for pupils. In general, I think you're asking the question of what assurance we have that the students in an integrated setting are having their program needs met.

Dr Pascal: And that money is attached to --

Ms Akande: The special-ed needs of their program. I will assume that the regular class needs are being met, but if the child has been IPRCed and is placed in this integrated setting, what assurance do we have that the special-ed needs are being met in that setting?

Dr Pascal: I'm sorry. I thought you wanted assurance and transparency that the special education dollars are being spent on special education needs.

Ms Akande: That's right.

The Vice-Chair (Ms Dianne Poole): Transparency? The new buzzword?

Ms Akande: Edubabble.

Dr Pascal: Very clear to all, including parents, that the money is being spent on their kids' needs, as identified in a process called --

Mr Tim Murphy (St George-St David): A transparency is a thing you put on the thing and you put it up on the wall.

Ms Akande: We've taken two minutes to make sure you've got the question. Now, have I got the answer?

Mr Doris: Education finance reform certainly considers this a key challenge, and that is that we want to make sure the parents understand and the community understands how the money is being spent. Probably it's a valid criticism of our current system that in the way the money is spent at the local level, it's difficult to put one's finger on how it's actually being spent.

We do know the total dollars that a board is spending on special ed. We do know the resources that the board reports to the ministry as far as teachers, teachers' aides etc are concerned.

Ms Akande: What we don't know is that the children who have been identified through the IPRC as having special-ed needs are in fact being supported by a program that addresses those needs if the child is in an integrated program. We don't know that and that's extremely important because there are many complaints coming from a few boards, but probably more than I know, that say their children are identified and are placed in integrated programs and the teachers at those integrated programs do not have special education training and are not supported by resource teachers who support those programs who have special education training, and they therefore are not getting any kind of program which is in any way different from any of the regular class teachers.

I suggest there are ways in which we could respond to that which would, in a surface way, seem appropriate. But being in that situation, and I have been, it is true.

Dr Pascal: Let me try to respond to that. First of all, we've established that the system needs far more clarity about what dollars go in and how they're spent. But the second part of the question basically raises whether or not at the other end kids' needs are being dealt with. As I said in my opening remarks today, when Ms Poole asked me to write a hypothetical throne speech, for which I wasn't prepared -- I should have been because I wrote a draft on another set of subjects yesterday -- the indicators are that a large number of students are being served well by the system --

Ms Akande: I would agree.

Dr Pascal: -- and we need to kiss the system for a few moments in this process for doing some things right.

Where we have problems in the system, as correctly identified by the Provincial Auditor, is that when special comprehensive annual reports on what boards are supposed to be doing with the children, to which Mrs Akande refers, are submitted to the ministry, we provide feedback when there is a gap in perceived service along the lines that Mrs Akande has noted, and we haven't done well enough in following up our advice to see if it's been followed. I readily agree that we have some serious issues there that need addressing, no doubt about it.

I think it's also important to note that with 160,000 kids formally identified and about 170,000 kids with certain special needs also being accommodated, and with the kind of information we have about the IPRC process in terms of numbers that are coming forth and numbers that aren't coming forth, including the kind of caveat that Mr Marchese and I would like to put on it, there are a large number of children who are being well served by the system at present.

Ms Akande: One quick thing: I wouldn't want it out there in TV land that I don't support the system or don't feel it's doing an adequate job or feel that the special ed and other teachers aren't doing a remarkable job. What I do say, though, is that we must be certain that boards are not using the special education money and putting kids into integrated situations where in fact no special education focus is being given and no support is being given. But I too applaud the abilities of teachers to work around those decisions, because they don't make them.

The Chair: The last half-hour will be divided into 10 minutes per party. We're probably going to conclude the session this morning and go into an in camera session this afternoon to deal with what we do next.

Perhaps it would be useful to ask the deputy minister: Given that the Royal Commission on Learning is going to deal with a number of issues that were raised during the course of these hearings, that having been said, those issues can be set aside for the commission on learning. There were, however, a number of other issues that I think there was some indication you might be able to deal with, because the commission on learning was not going to delve into those issues. Would it be possible for you to report back to us at some point, perhaps when we sit again in March, a list of those issues and what plan you have to deal with those issues? Therefore we might follow up on some of those things and what directions you might take, given that set of issues that you think you can deal with, that you need to move forward with.


Dr Pascal: I would be very pleased to do that. I don't want to get involved in testing and signing norm reference numbers to it. I could give about an 80% answer now. I won't because you haven't asked for it because of the time. It's very easy for us to indicate what we're doing already and what we plan on doing. I will summarize at the end, if given a few minutes, what I've learned from the last three days in terms of action, in particular in special education. But the answer is yes, we would be very pleased to make sure that members of public accounts know that while there are serious problems, we're not just waiting for the Royal Commission on Learning to report to solve some of these problems, and I can make a clear distinction between what's in and what's out of the commission's responsibility.

Ms Poole: While we're doing a request for information, could I also ask if the ministry could give us some information on the impact of the social contract for the educational system as a whole, but also specifically with relation to special education --

Mr Murphy: And the expenditure control plan.

Ms Poole: -- and the expenditure control plan -- thank you, Mr Murphy -- just so we have an indication of what future stresses may be on the system and what current stresses have been added.

Dr Pascal: The answer is yes. In terms of the word "effect," that will be a very difficult part of the question to answer, but issues related to it.

Ms Poole: Yes, the monetary impact and any cuts in programming that have resulted from it or transfers.

Dr Pascal: Just a clarifying question: When you say educational system or a system of education, are you referring just to elementary-secondary?

Ms Poole: Yes. Unless members want it to go beyond that, I thought of just the elementary-secondary panels.

Dr Pascal: There are probably colleagues behind me saying, "Why would he ask and throw open the possibility?" but I just wanted to clarify it.

Ms Poole: Give us everything.

Mr Callahan: I didn't realize we weren't going to have the ministry back this afternoon. My agenda shows them this afternoon as well.

In any event, I'm going to jump into it and hopefully can accomplish what I want to accomplish. We're going to be dealing with the auditor's report in terms of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services next week. I have a number of points, and I'm going to concentrate on the persons with the invisible disabilities, because I think those with visible disabilities will be able to be identified quite easily and programs can be put in place. It is the people who have the invisible disabilities, who are probably a small fraction of the 8% Mr Marchese was talking about, but I suspect they're probably more in the neighbourhood of about 30% of our young people.

We've seen the problems in the auditor's report about the question of when moneys get tight and also the comments by the auditor saying that they received information, Mr Marchese. As they went around to the schools, they were told that in some cases teachers were told not to tell parents about the IPRC identification program because they didn't have sufficient placements to look after these children. I raised on my behalf and I think on behalf of all the colleagues on this committee and any member, that this is outrageous.

In any event, I'd like to go to the topic of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. I think that learning disability is something that is so pervasive and so far-reaching that it deserves a good deal of attention from study and the inclusion of what's going on in the United States and around the world in terms of what advances have been made in identifying it in terms of dealing with it, because as I said earlier, and I won't repeat them, I think there are a lot of kids and a lot of adults who are now doing time in our correctional facilities and jails who are either unidentified learning-disabled kids or are those who didn't receive the benefit of any type of program to help them out of their plight.

I'd like to ask, what is OISE doing? I understand that OISE, and I hope I'm correct in this, is supposed to be an organization that studies the whole gamut of education. I think this is one they should be zeroing in on, and if they haven't been zeroing in, I would certainly urge that they do zero in and gain all the information, all the available data background from around the world, to try and wrestle with this problem and work feverishly towards, number one, the ability to be able to identify. That's number one; that's OISE.

The second thing is that I would suggest as a very important facet, and apparently it's being done at Ryerson, that we develop programs to allow identification of kids to be done by people who are not necessarily psychologists or psychiatrists. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to be able to identify a kid as having a learning disability. Teachers do it all the time. They send them on for verification by professionals.

I think we have to have, as I said yesterday, almost like a hospital having triage. You have to have those people, and maybe it's a course, maybe it's early childhood educators who would be employed in this capacity, so that we can identify the largest number of kids and not miss any and not have to put kids on long waiting lists, perhaps to see the psychologist through the school or through any other process. Mental health access for kids has a tremendous backlog and I'm sure the same thing exists for the schools.

We need something to be able to prioritize those cases which are most significant before these kids drop out of school or before they become viewed as antisocial and end up in the correctional milieu. Although the Treasurer, my good friend Floyd Laughren, will probably say we don't have the money to do that, and maybe we don't, I think that in the long run, if we don't do it now, we're going to pay for it in spades down the line.

Leaving the questions with you -- I'm not sure you have enough time to address them but maybe we can get something in writing -- I'd like to know what OISE is doing and what it has planned for the future, and I would like to leave with you what I said was the suggestion about some type of non-professional person, and when I say "non-professional," not in the vein of a psychologist.

Finally, the third question would be, what are we doing to deal with people who are chemically sensitive in terms of special education? Those would be my questions.

The Chair: Unfortunately, there isn't enough time to answer all those questions, so we will leave it that the ministry would perhaps get back by way of information.

Mr Callahan: Mr Chair, you indicated that we should go in camera this afternoon. That will obviously be to discuss what we might report on in this regard. I think it's important enough to have these people back this afternoon for an hour or so. I don't know whether I can get unanimous consent for us to go into this a little more, particularly on the OISE question.

The Chair: Perhaps we could deal with that for one moment. Is there unanimous consent for that to occur?

Mr Noel Duignan (Halton North): My understanding of this whole issue is that we wouldn't spend the whole afternoon in camera, that we would spend a portion of the afternoon in camera, so I'm quite willing to come back and sit from 2 to 3 or 3:30 and deal with any outstanding issues that members may want to raise with the ministry staff here.

The Chair: Is there unanimous consent to have the ministry back this afternoon? Fine.


Mrs Cunningham: I'd like the deputy to attempt to answer this in some way. It's been brought to my attention in our travels that many boards have tried very hard to provide parents and students with options or a variety of placements for exceptional pupils in keeping with the spirit of Bill 82.

But a few boards provide only one placement option. Some of them call this mainstreaming, inclusion or total integration. They say to the parents: "Your option is mainstreaming or total integration." There's tremendous complaint by parents that this is their only option. They then argue that this is the option that meets the needs of the exceptional pupils in their boards.

Is the regular classroom, for all exceptional pupils, the only placement option that the Ministry of Education is prepared to support at this time, or is the range of placement alternatives approach the approach that the Ministry of Education continues to support?

Mr Ferren: The present legislation and the current way that school boards operate is in accordance with Bill 82 and the regulations, where the school boards are encouraged to provide a range of placements for exceptional pupils. That is still the current position of the Ministry of Education. There are some school boards in the province that deliver their programs and services on an integrated model, and they have involved parents in the development of that model. There are, and they will indicate that there are, a few pupils who they may not be able to serve in an integrated model, and in those instances what they do is purchase the service from the neighbouring board. That's the current status.

Mrs Cunningham: If you can imagine a school board having a singular policy, given that the ministry and the intent of Bill 82 is to provide a range of services, I would suggest you can go around and ask every board that has a singular policy such as that -- I've obviously asked the question for a reason -- and I don't think they are meeting the spirit. I don't think there is one person in this room who wouldn't agree that as far as possible, a child should be in their own neighbourhood, so we all approve, I think, of integration as far as possible. That would be every family's dream.

Where it isn't appropriate -- and the ministry is saying, "We support a range of programs" -- to stick a child in somebody else's jurisdiction, outside of the support of their own community, so that when they do get a little bit older, like my son, and my question about job coaching and the real world that supports them, that's gone, their friends are gone, their family's gone -- I would suggest the ministry move in on this as quickly as possible.

Mr Ferren: Mr Chair, I stated the current situation in response to the questioner. On the proposed directions on the integration of exceptional pupils that are under way, that are under consideration, we're looking at the issues of parental consent and the interface of parental consent with the IPRC process, the issue of allocation of special education resources, the issue of integration into a neighbourhood school or community school.

Those are some of the outstanding issues, but we are also talking about the integration, as the deputy referred to earlier, of almost all exceptional pupils, based on parental support, with the recognition that there are some exceptional pupils whose needs cannot be met in a regular class placement. Therefore there would be the need for alternatives to that particular integrated placement, such as special education classes, provincial schools, demonstration schools.

Mrs Cunningham: I'm going to give the ministry some information. Yesterday I met with the parents of Down syndrome children in the southwest region. They were individual parents who had called this meeting. They were very strong in saying to me that many of their children have benefited and are benefiting from integration, but just as many are benefiting from contained classrooms and contained programs. So they need a choice. It's a perfect example of a concern.

It was yesterday's concern, and for the ministry to be sitting around and saying "as far as possible and with parental consent" -- I can tell you right now that when I was asked to give consent to what the educator recommended, as a parent I trusted the educator. In today's world, most parents do. I think educators should be very careful in what they're recommending for children. I think there will be repercussions down the road on behalf of some of the programming, and I assure you anybody with any common sense knows there has to be a range.

Integration as far as possible is a wonderful ideal, but contained classrooms have wonderful success stories. I think school boards are being forced by this kind of policy statement to get rid of programs that are working. I will stand behind the vocational schools and the opportunities for those older students to get jobs. That's the only success story I saw in the 15 years I was on the school board in London. That's where the success stories were. For people to move to this other route, they had better take a look at the success of those kids getting jobs down the road. I don't think they're there to the extent they have been in the past.

That's what the real world's all about, not kids just going to school until they're 21, but people living useful lives beyond the age of 21. I really feel strongly about it and I think those boards should be taken to task.

Dr Pascal: Obviously, the concerns of individual parents are very important to us and we hope to the boards, as Mrs Cunningham has offered the challenge. There is a policy right now, as the former minister expressed in the Legislature in 1991, that integration should be the norm. In fact, in practice it already is. There's a commitment to providing for almost all, and that's where the area of grey is in terms of what that phrase means. There are issues around the concerns Mrs Cunningham has expressed that are under very active evaluation right now. I'm sure you can understand why we can't talk about the options that are before cabinet, but these are important issues.

The policy is based on an assumption that I think everybody shares that the social achievement outcomes of integration, wherever it can be successful with special needs children, need to have a full and effective chance. There are lots of issues of motion, lack of information and the fact that we haven't done well enough in sharing best practices around the province that need to be part of the solution.

The Chair: There are two minutes left.

Mr Villeneuve: Are we still on special education?

The Chair: Special-ed is our focus this morning.

Mr Villeneuve: I have some questions on the delivery of French-language curriculum, which was questioned by the auditor. If the deputy minister is coming back after lunch, maybe we could do that.

The Chair: Perhaps that would be the most appropriate time. Given that kind of interest, I would ask members if the ministry should bring along officials from both curriculum and special education. Is that the intent?

Mr Duignan: Yesterday, we did agree, as I stated earlier, that while we're focused primarily on special education here this morning, if committee members had questions related to other issues and if the ministry didn't have the staff here to answer them, it would certainly get back in written form to the members with answers to their questions.

Mrs Cunningham: He just said there's no problem doing that. The deputy just said that.

The Chair: If there is a request to have some people here to deal with curriculum, then obviously we're going to move in that direction this afternoon as well.

Dr Pascal: We will be prepared to be very flexible in dealing with whatever questions members pose.


Mr Duignan: I couldn't agree more with my colleague Mrs Cunningham around the whole question of integration. I have a real problem with that. I had one of my sons go through our whole system where he was bused some 15 to 20 kilometres away from where he lived. For two years, I didn't know his friends, had no support or anything else. I don't really want to get into that. We've gone around that.

What really upsets me is when people say, "Things are on the way and options are under consideration." Are we going to wait another 14 years before we come to some concrete answers to some of the problems which the auditor has found and which every parent in this province has experienced? When are we going to get some action? When are we going to get some concrete results?

When you look at what the auditor has found, there's real concern. Even the deputy minister said in his opening statement, "The findings reflect concerns that are held by many educators and parents whose children require special education programs."

You know that the boards have a wide latitude in how to implement these programs and the ministry has no idea where the money is spent, if the money is spent on them, how the money is spent, and what programs work and what programs don't work. I'd like to know when we're going to get some concrete changes to the system we have now in place.

Dr Pascal: Let me begin by stating what I said in response to the first question this morning, which is that 14 years has not seen inaction; 14 years has seen hundreds of thousands of children identified with their special needs and accommodated. Rome is not burned to the ground. By the same token, as you have indicated, I am concerned with respect to the toughness, or lack thereof, of some of the accountability problems that remain in the system.

There are things in place that potentially could be improved: the IPRC process, which we've discussed, and the special education advisory committees and their roles and responsibilities, and the need for them perhaps not only to be involved in planning and making recommendations, but to be involved in some tough-minded implementation monitoring. Then it involves, of course, the ministry and its response to its role in monitoring those annual reports that those committees are generating.

There are issues that have to be redressed, but we've moved from a process in the mid-1980s to where under legislation school boards have an obligation to accommodate special needs students, and as you suggested, in a variety of ways: lots of apples and oranges in terms of how they do it. We haven't done well enough in terms of evaluating best practice so that the whole system can rise according to the best practices taking place around the province. You're absolutely correct that that has to be improved upon. But as we move to responsibility under the act as shared by the ministry and the school boards, we're going to have to expand that.

In order for the problems to be identified and solved more effectively, we're going to have to have the involvement of other ministries, of social service and health agencies, and ministries on the ground in various communities. The tricky part about this is how you establish an accountability framework and mechanism that works, because for these issues to be resolved well, to your satisfaction and mine, the shared responsibility at one level has to be greater.

The accountability for ensuring that everybody's playing their role effectively has to reside, I think, with the ministry. I don't want to put on the record that increased shared responsibility among more people gets us off the hook; quite the contrary. We have to be the resident ministry in ensuring that the outcomes are more effective as a result of greater numbers of players, including of course the recurrent theme of far greater parent involvement. To me, the most significant issue that has been reinforced by members of this committee is the need for parents to have this system more available to them intellectually and emotionally. To me, having that happen will go a long way in terms of redressing some of the issues you've noted.

Mr Duignan: I know the ground moved in California a couple of days ago and they have a major problem and they're moving quickly to fix it. So hopefully we're not going to take too long to fix the problems that we know are out there and need to be fixed. The parents and the educators can't wait around too much longer to have these problems fixed.

The final question I have before passing it on is, given all the facts we know right now, given the fact that there's a problem in the system, do you believe the taxpayers of this province are getting value for the money in relation to special education?

Dr Pascal: The only answer I can give is that I hope so. If you're asking me categorically, is my comfort level as high as it should be, the answer is no. If you're asking whether I think large numbers of students have been well served by the system, the answer is yes. But I'm not satisfied, as the Provincial Auditor has noted, that our accountability mechanisms are as strong and as effective as they need to be. Until they are, you and I aren't going to be able to answer that question with the level of confidence that we'd like to be able to answer that question.

Mr Duignan: So in other words, no, we don't have enough information to answer that question?

Dr Pascal: I think we need to respond aggressively to the accountability deficiencies the Provincial Auditor has noted to be able to answer that question.

Mr Duignan: The taxpayers of this province are hoping that will happen, and happen quickly.

Dr Pascal: The taxpayers of this province, not just in special education, deserve far more visibility in terms of outcomes for their $14-billion investment right across the board. They need to know where the money's being spent in the service of what outcomes. The progress we've made in special education in 14 years is enormous. What it's done is that the progress has made it easier for us to identify where the problems still remain. In the area of curriculum and testing as we discussed yesterday, major strides are being made, but we've got a long way to go.

Mr Duignan: We have no accountability in the system.

Dr Pascal: We have less accountability and less effective measures of accountability than we need.

Mr Duignan: In other words, we have no accountability in the system.

Dr Pascal: No, that's not so; no, I'm sorry --

The Chair: We're not going to get into a debate around that. Mr Marchese has the final say.

Mr Marchese: I won't talk about streaming but hopefully get to it in the afternoon if we have time, because that would take more time to discuss and get your reaction to the whole notion of streaming.

But some comments on parental involvement again, to bring it back: That's a big task. It isn't easy to simply say we want it, because once we say we want it, which is a wonderful achievement in itself, then we have to talk about how it all happens, because to do that you need to change the culture within the school system and outside with communities and parents. At the moment, we don't have a culture within the teacher-board jurisdiction that says, "Yes, it's a good idea."

In fact, you will have a lot of resistance often from educators, from teacher to principal to superintendent to director, who at times find that a terrible nuisance, especially when parents get very heated about what they like and what they don't like. The system is a terrible way at times of making sure they deal with that in their own way and sometimes very effectively in terms of keeping them out.

The system at times closes in and the parent finds a terrible wall in terms of how to go through the process of accessing people information and getting the feeling that they're getting a fair trial or a fair hearing or whatever it is that the parent wants. We need to change the culture in and outside of the system. In my view that would take a long time, but I suspect you would agree with that.

Dr Pascal: It may, but the good news is that I sense right across the country, in discussing this very issue with my colleagues in other provinces just a few days ago, that the issue of parent involvement, of again making the whole system available to their participation, requires, as you suggested, a cultural transformation, but the pressure for it is enormous.

With several boards in the province of Ontario -- I don't want to put a number on it that are doing well of the 172 boards, but there are some located not too far from here that are doing significant things in terms of trying to meet parents wherever they have to meet them, including 100% of the way if they have to, including going to homes for visitations, not just saying, "Come to the tower over here and see if you can find your way to the teacher's office or the vice-principal's office."

There are some boards that are doing best practice. We make those best practices known to the parents in other jurisdictions, and the clamouring for that at home in the respective jurisdictions will be enormous.

Mr Cooke's Ontario Parent Council is something that I think was long overdue. I wasn't sure it was, but then when we saw the response to it and the fact that it has been very well received -- it hasn't been well received universally; there are a few trustees who don't like it and maybe a few other groups that aren't sure about it --

Mr Marchese: Who are they?

Dr Pascal: -- but maybe the concern there is for the reasons you've expressed. Where boards already are doing these things, people are welcoming it. So there's a kind of grass-roots pressure and a top-down pressure through the Ontario Parent Council that is going to provide results maybe more quickly than you might get --

Mr Marchese: Perhaps, and that's good.

The Chair: Unfortunately, we've run out of time.

Mr Marchese: Just as a last comment, I want to say it's sharing best practices not just with parents, but let's share them with teachers as well.

Dr Pascal: Yes, absolutely.

Mr Marchese: I'll continue this afterwards.

The Chair: We will adjourn until this afternoon at 2.

The committee recessed from 1201 to 1410.

The Acting Chair (Mr Noel Duignan): We have agreement among the parties to proceed. We also have agreement that we spend the first hour of this afternoon's session in rounds split evenly among the caucuses asking further questions of the ministry, and at that point we'll go into closed session to deal with where we want to go from here. I will begin with the official opposition.

Mr Callahan: I'd like to go back, Dr Pascal, to the question of OISE. I've read some books coming out of the United States on the whole question of learning disability. Some of them suggest that diet has a bearing. Some of them suggest it doesn't exist. As I understand it, OISE is a body that does research into education and specific problems in education. Has there been much work done on the question of the learning-disabled, perhaps what is going on in other jurisdictions and how they're dealing with it?

I don't want to belabour the point, but perhaps it requires a little more emphasis. I think we're all in agreement that learning disability, being the invisible disability, has a significant impact on a very large sector of our population. In fact, I don't think in the past we realized just how pervasive it was and I think we're just starting to understand that it is extremely pervasive. From all the things I've been able to determine, people who have this disability -- the one I'm speaking of is not dyslexia but attention deficit -- are probably from average to very bright people who are trapped in this, whatever causes it.

To deal with that, in our efforts to provide special education for people with this invisible disability, it's absolutely imperative that we use whatever facilities are available to us to investigate the problem, investigate the best way to deal with the problem. Who knows? Perhaps we'll find why young people are in this difficulty.

I'm going to ask that at some point after we get back to the House, we convene public hearings in the public accounts committee to bring people before us to gather real-life stories of the problems and difficulties they have, because I think it's one that many people out there are not aware of.

This is why I raise the issue of the identification process, not just in education but also in connection with the new legislation dealing with employment equity. These people are really disabled; at least that's my conclusion after a fair amount of involvement with these kids. Unless we have more knowledge of what the problem is and how these kids are affected by it, and even adults -- I speak of kids, but there are probably lots of adults around, as somebody said this morning, who probably didn't know what was going on until we realized this in the last 10 or 15 or so years.

What is OISE doing? If they are not extensively involved in it, if they're not an autonomous body -- I'm not sure whether they are or they aren't -- I would certainly encourage that they take full steps to investigate the matter totally, not just looking in our own backyard but looking at all the research that has gone on around the world and covering a whole host of areas. We're going to be meeting with Correctional Services next week, and I'm there should be a real crossover on this between corrections, Health and Education.

Having said all that as a rather lengthy preamble, I find it very disturbing. As I said before, while I was practising in the criminal courts, mainly with young people, you can pick them out. I mean, it jumps out at you. The frustration they suffer is so significant in that they don't know what's wrong with them, their parents don't know what's wrong with them, and in many cases they're just looked upon as being troublemakers. I think we're losing a lot of very important commodities for the future of this country if we don't do something about it.

Dr Pascal: I'll begin my response to the important question and comments of Mr Callahan by indicating that last week when I visited the Trillium School and attended what they call their weekly family meeting, where students, parents and staff get together to talk about issues arising from the previous week, I noticed in the meeting room a wall filled with very famous people we would all recognize who are individuals with one form or another of a learning disability. Many of them are older than we are and have been famous for a long time, and through probably an uncommon amount of tenacity and parent support somehow figured it out and reinforced what you have said, which is that achievement and potential should not be hampered if early diagnosis and intervention is accommodated.

To not have early diagnosis and intervention, I am told by adults who are friends of mine who discovered later in life they were learning-disabled, is not only a hidden handicap but a private fear which creates an extraordinary amount of challenge, and a challenge that is often dealt with in isolation because people don't want to talk about it. As a result, sometimes the outward symptoms are certainly misread rather than being interpreted properly.

There is a "That was then, this is now" quality to my answer, because as a result of Bill 82, as a result of intervention by advocacy groups and teachers, advocacy groups like OACLD and others, we're in a different place now, a place that's not perfect but one where early identification and accommodation is more possible.

With respect to OISE, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the institute does have a special education focus. It's part of the department of applied psychology; there's a joint special education-applied psychology department. They do have some research taking place on learning disabilities. I can't tell you any more specifics. I would be pleased to find out who's doing what. Regardless of how much they do, it's important for our research as a province not only to be pursuing issues like this but also tapping the best knowledge and research base that exists in the world.

When I was a professor at McGill University under the leadership of Dr Sam Rabinovitch, some of Canada's and the world's early and leading research on learning disabilities was taking place. Dr Rabinovitch has since left this world, but I hope McGill, in his place -- Canada is on the map in terms of doing research on a cluster of subsyndromes that are listed under the general label of learning disability.

You asked a question about OISE and its independence. The answer is not meant to be cryptic and bureaucratic in a pejorative sense, but the answer is yes and no. It's at one level an independent institution, at another it's different from universities. It's a schedule 3 agency. We transfer money to OISE in terms of a block research grant, as we have over the years, and we've not always attached too many strings to what's done. The possibility exists that perhaps some further work can be done, that we can increase the probability in a more directive way that it is done. But we shouldn't limit the research domain just to Ontario and the Ontario institute. We have the world of researchers that need to be brought to bear in terms of how we can use best practice in Ontario.

The only other thing I would add is that a couple of days ago, when Mr Callahan and I were talking about our respective perception that there's a relatively higher incidence of learning disabilities present in the young offenders system etc, I said I was sure that I've read research articles which have reinforced that. While doing my assigned homework for Mrs Cunningham -- and I hope this will be the last reference to Professor Weber -- what Weber says in his summary in that excellent book is that the research is equivocal. Again, this is difficult research to do, and as you explore this next week as part of another public accounts meeting, if I can get the copy back from Ms Anderson, I can at least show you that section in Weber that calls attention to the fact that some research studies show yes and some show different results, and Weber explains why. I think it would be of interest to you.


Mr Callahan: Some of the observations I've made from some of the stuff I've reviewed and even from anecdotal information from some of my constituents -- I'll give you an example. A constituent of mine was living in a family situation which she didn't understand. It was eventually determined that not just her son but her husband had a learning disability. They were both professionally diagnosed. She wound up becoming abusive of alcohol and went to the Homewood clinic, and of the 30 people who were there, I think 29 had been diagnosed as learning-disabled. The question is chicken and egg. Were these people drinking because they didn't understand what had happened to them or what was going on with them and masking it through alcohol and drugs? Does it in fact have that far-reaching effect, that some people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs may very well be people who are learning-disabled?

I've told you about the jails. If I walked through a correctional facility or a penitentiary, or if someone did who had some ability to identify them -- I can't tell you how you identify them; I can, because I've seen a lot of them -- you'll see an awful lot of them in there. That to me is a horrific, terrible thing. The more important thing is that a lot of kids out there are maybe out of school and haven't been identified, or maybe they are in school and haven't been identified, who are falling through the cracks. It behooves us to investigate that and to look into measures in how we can deal with these people.

The other thing I've discovered from talking to kids with learning disabilities is that they require a good deal more of the sensory helps. For instance, from my experience, a person who has a learning disability is someone who would probably learn more from a comic book or a television program than they would from you or me speaking or receiving a lecture or reading a book. Also, the experience they have is that on certain days they're in tune with everything, they're very bright, but some days you could talk to them and they wouldn't even know what you were saying. It would be -- what's the word on the buttons you handed out this morning?

Dr Pascal: Edubabble.

Mr Callahan: That's a very real concern. Another is that parents don't understand what it's all about. Just to name some of the important people you mentioned, Churchill was learning-disabled; John F. Kennedy was too, I think; the Fonz; Cher; I think Einstein, but I'm not sure. That's amazing, when you think that somehow they got out of the problem, found tricks to get around it. But if they hadn't found those tricks, we would have lost the benefit of the things they did for society. I think it's a really important aspect.

Dr Pascal: Mr Chair, I don't know whether Mr Callahan wants me to respond.

Mr Callahan: No, it's more of a rhetorical question.

I've often been somewhat amazed watching some of these kids who can watch television and can recite the dialogue from a movie after they've seen it once. They can play it out as the person is saying it. Anyone who has had experience with these people will know they can recite the commercials that are on television verbatim before they even come on. That says to me that the visual image is very important to them: That's their world; they live in it. I would wonder why we don't -- maybe we do already. I know they have film-strips in schools and a certain amount of television. I would think the emphasis should be on television and, oddly enough, I would say we should return to things like comic books.

That may sound weird, and I'm sure a lot of people watching will say, "We're going to spend our tax dollars on comic books?" But you may be helping some kid work his way through to a proper job or career or whatever simply by stimulating his desire to learn by giving him those few images through a comic book, for instance, Classics Illustrated. You're not old enough to remember that, but I certainly can. I passed my Greek and Roman history exam, St Michael's College over in the Drill Hall, by reading a Classics comic book. That's all I knew about the whole thing and I think I got a B-plus. So comic books are great. I'm a great advocate of comic books and movies.

That's why it's so important as well that we look at the technology that's available. Computers are another thing, although I think most kids with learning disabilities would find a computer very threatening unless it was extremely friendly.

I simply throw those out because those are things we should be studying in an effort to determine what kind of curricula or ideas the ministry would want to give, or the school boards would want to make in conjunction with the ministry, in terms of how do you deal with these kids.

Dr Pascal: All the suggestions and interventions you've talked about are probably at play in the system. It's really important to note that as we look at learning disabilities, we're looking at lots of different subsets. No individual learner, whether they're labelled one thing or another -- what we have to focus on are individual, well-diagnosed needs, regardless of where they might fit on some kind of learning continuum.

The amount of good teaching out there is enormous. Good teaching, in this sense, is defined by teachers who understand that there's multiple modalities, many different ways of giving learners self-confidence. Each learner will develop that self-confidence to do more and to stretch themselves in different ways. There are teachers out there dealing with dyslexic kids who, when it's time to develop an essay, have the kids dictate their thoughts verbally because their verbal acuity is different from their writing skills, and then they transcribe what they've dictated on a piece of paper.

There are lots of different ways to try to intervene and begin exercising those neurological deficiencies that are connected to some of the learning disability syndromes. All of the suggestions and different approaches you've mentioned are probably at play in the system today.

Mr Villeneuve: Moving away from special-ed back to the curriculum, particularly the observations of the auditor regarding the delivery of French-language curriculum, we had extensive discussion on The Common Curriculum, which applies at present only to English and French immersion areas, as opposed to French curriculum as such. Maybe you could explain what's happening here.

Mr Richard Gauthier: The questions we've raised during the course of the last few days about The Common Curriculum will apply as well to French-language schools as they would to English-language schools. The auditor felt it important, because of the nature and the unique character of French-language education, to also spend some time looking at French-language education. Certainly some of the observations and comments made during the course of the two days would also apply to French-langauge schools.

Mr Villeneuve: Is The Common Curriculum in place in your French schools as of September of this past year?

Mr Gauthier: Yes, The Common Curriculum is at the same state. There's a French version and an English version of The Common Curriculum.


Mr Villeneuve: The main difficulty in trying to provide quality curriculum from teachers' facilities to a small, widely dispersed population is cost-effectiveness. What within the ministry are you doing to address this, without cutting into the quality of education?

Mr Gauthier: Good question. The Common Curriculum and the policies it sets apply to French-language schools as they do to English-language schools. The difference is in the strategies you might use to implement it. In the case of French-language schools, a lot of effort is being made to bring the partners together. We've had a number of meetings with French-language supervisory officials from school boards all over the province about working together to get the necessary tools to implement The Common Curriculum. One of the things we are doing is making a joint effort. Whether it's from Sudbury or Ottawa or Toronto or Thunder Bay, the French-language community is working together in producing the second- and third-generation documents necessary for use in the classroom by French-language teachers.

Mr Villeneuve: Would these documents be primarily Ontario-produced, international, or Quebec-produced?

Mr Gauthier: When we talk about a program from The Common Curriculum, most school boards and schools will produce a program of study, and that will be Ontario-produced for Ontario schools. The resource materials and learning materials to accompany that can come from all over and be adapted to the situation in Ontario.

Dr Pascal: It's also important to reinforce the recent Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, agenda that was set in September of this past year in Victoria, which includes a major study of curriculum comparability: to examine, because of the economy-of-scale problems you and Mr Gauthier are referring to, curriculum comparability in other provinces, including the French-language parts of Canada outside Ontario, so we can begin looking at what can be used immediately and what needs adaptation. Obviously, it's cheaper to buy and adapt than to make. That's where, because of the numbers, we've had a problem, an understandable issue, with publishers in terms of their particular interest in the bottom-line profit margin.

Mr Villeneuve: To quote, "The main difficulty is in trying to provide quality curriculum teachers." Is that a major problem in delivering French-language education?

Mr Gauthier: We've had discussions with the Provincial Auditor's staff on this whole question to try to come to grips with the parameters involved. One of the things we've come to rely on is a study done in 1991 on the supply and demand of French-language teachers. There's no doubt that some areas of the province, such as the northwest or the south-central and southwest, have had difficulty in attracting French-language teachers. Understandably, a lot of teachers tend to focus more on those areas of the province where there might be a stronger French-language population, such as in Sudbury, North Bay or Ottawa. There is no doubt, though, that the teachers who are in the French-language schools are fully qualified teachers. There has been a greater reliance in getting some teachers from out of province, and the auditor talks about this, but it doesn't mean they're not qualified teachers.

Mr Villeneuve: It's simply more difficult --

Mr Gauthier: To attract them. To find them.

Mr Villeneuve: A statement is also made here that in certain grades, the textbooks in French might be only 50% of what you have available to a comparable English-speaking school. In your opinion, are the French texts you now have doing the job or do they leave something to be desired? It's seems to be disturbing the auditor, that there's not the quantity. But maybe the quality's there. I would like your opinions on that.

Mr Gauthier: The textbooks being used in French-language schools are fully approved textbooks and would meet the same criteria as the textbooks used in English-language schools.

There's no doubt that the quantity of learning materials is not the same because of the minority situation. The funding for English-language learning materials is widely available either from various levels of governments or private sector sponsors. I'll give you examples: the Energy Educators of Ontario, the Ontario Federation of School Athletics Associations, the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education, the Addiction Research Foundation. Those organizations have all received funds from time to time to produce English-language materials, and they come from a variety of sources. For example, the public media industry in Ontario, almost exclusively English, produces a wealth of materials for use in schools. A good example of that is work being done by the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail, which make a business of producing educational packages.

The sponsors of learning materials do not always require as a condition of their support that materials be produced also in the French language. There's no doubt that just the milieu being predominantly English will produce more learning materials in the English language than there are in the French language.

Dr Pascal: It's really important that the committee understand that we agree with the Provincial Auditor. There are initiatives in place and we hope they will solve the problem, but there is the economy-of-scale issue. We do have the curriculum development fund, we do have the Centre franco-ontarien in Ottawa, but we still need to figure out ways of providing more.

I don't want to leave you with the sense that we think everything's fine. That's where the pan-Canadian curriculum comparability will help, and we will do everything we can to evaluate whether the progress we're making is sufficient. If it's not, we'll do something about it.

Mr Villeneuve: Some of the commissioners on the royal commission have expressed some concern about the quality of education. Do you have any means of testing a graduate from the French system as opposed to the English-speaking system here in Ontario? Can you give us a general idea of how they compare once you have a graduate?

Mr Maurice Poirier: The assessment activities we conduct across the province include both French-language and English-language students, so when we conduct provincial reviews, which are large-scale sampling exercises, we always include a representative French-language sample. In some cases, because of the relatively small number of francophones in the province, the sample happens to be 100%, so to some extent we've seen a lot more testing in French-language schools than we have in English-language schools. But in all instances where we conduct tests, such as the national test of math last year, we always have two sets of results.

A very recent example is the results of the grade 12 provincial review. These results were released last month, and we had two sets to look at. The information showed different levels of achievement in some respects. But the answer is, quite simply, yes, we always do include French-language students.

Mr Villeneuve: It will be interesting to see what the recommendations of the royal commission turn out to be, especially when the auditor has shown some degree of uncertainty about what's happening within the delivery of French-language education.

Mr Robert Frankford (Scarborough East): Another way of comparing the effectiveness of and accountability for education is by international comparisons. It seems to get into the media a lot, where Ontario or Canada stand. Often one reads hand-wringing commentaries that we're worse in things like dropout rates. I suspect that a lot of that is comparing apples and oranges, that the methodology is inaccurate and that we're really basically like an average industrialized country.


Dr Pascal: I don't think anyone around this table would want to have as a banner for anything we do in Ontario, "We're no worse than anyone else." It's certainly not a banner or a button I'm going to send home to my mother in terms of the activities I'm involved in. We want to be the best we can be. But you're quite right that the nature of comparisons do suffer from apples and oranges.

One of the problems is that in terms of the area we're talking about in these discussions, for example, the issue of setting clear standards and clear learning objectives and then providing good information about how we're doing, this isn't something that's been around for a long time, so the early work is going to suffer from methodological challenges.

In 1995, we will be part of the third mathematics testing, the TIMSS international testing project. That's a really important project for us to be involved in, but we also need to understand, if I'm not mistaken, that that particular approach to testing is norm-referenced. It is not the kind of competency-based approach we're trying to take in Ontario and through the CMEC, the council of ministers, but it's well worth experimenting and innovating to find out what we can learn.

We should be very cautious about doing a 20-second clip version analysis of our system compared to the Japanese or our system compared to Quebec. The variables at play are complex. Our willingness to actually measure and deal with and try to control some of those issues and variables is only a relatively recent phenomenon, and the willingness to do it is really key. The Ontario government is quite interested in being a major player in trying to move the issue of accountability for the school system in Ontario and Canada-wide forward, methodologically and otherwise, for the sake of the taxpayers and the learners in the system, now and in the future.

Mr Frankford: I was pleased to see this document the OSSTF has given us, which has a lot of detail to put things in perspective. It's unfortunate that the general public goes by the news clips.

Dr Pascal: My good friend and colleague Mr French is probably in the room, which is why you have some of those materials. I wouldn't suggest that everything in those fine materials should be taken as the final word in terms of the research challenges I've mentioned either. The materials I read that were distributed yesterday have some outstanding things that really do help the issue. There are a few other things in there that I'd certainly want to find out more about. I think it is helpful, but OSSTF has a role to play.

Mr Murphy: What an excellent politician. Where are you running?

Ms Poole: More importantly, who are you running for?

The Chair: Just to clarify the source of some of the information that was passed along yesterday, it was the brochure handed out by the OSSTF, is that correct?

Mr Duignan: And two other pieces.

Ms Poole: There's also a document on white paper.

The Chair: I wasn't here, so I don't have it.

Dr Pascal: The Ministry of Education and Training couldn't afford this particular one you got today.

The Chair: It's actually a very nice piece.

Mr Frankford: There was a CBC Sunday Morning radio documentary a couple of weeks ago about international comparisons and also international approaches. One thing they talked about was what I think are called charter schools in the US. Are you familiar with those?

Dr Pascal: No.

Mr Frankford: I used to have a daughter in an alternative school in the city of Toronto. This new "discovery" -- I think the one they discussed was in Minneapolis -- sounded rather similar to what we already have in some places here; I know best the city of Toronto. I was wondering whether you were aware of it and would like to comment on the encouragement of alternative approaches within the regular system.

Mr Maurice Poirier: There is certainly room within the system to have different models of delivery for education. Indeed we encourage that, so long as the teachers involved in the program are fully qualified and are properly supervised. However, we do not set that up necessarily as the norm. In the instance you've identified, that is a particular program offered in the city of Toronto and it's well within the parameters of the Education Act and the regulations. Quite often in those programs we see innovative approaches being tried out and a lot of individualization. So long as the children achieve the outcomes specified at the provincial level, we feel this is quite appropriate.

Mr Marchese: One of the things you were going to follow up on was the question of literacy. Part of the point I was making earlier on is that parent involvement is one of the key elements in educational achievement, and connected to that is the literacy level of the parent. If we want parental involvement, with many of the parents we need to have adult education programs, literacy programs, for those who cannot read and write and some who need other kinds of adult education involvement.

Some boards take that as part of their mandate, as part of the continuum of education from primary education to adult education; some boards don't want to have that kind of involvement. I believe boards should be involved in adult education programs, literacy programs. What is the policy of the ministry in this regard?

Dr Pascal: As I said this morning in my preliminary response, the overall funding and responsibility for adult basic literacy is now with the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board; of course, this is to ensure that there's an integrated, lifelong learning approach for all those who need pre-labour-market training, entry/re-entry services. As part of the new approach, school boards will continue to be a major player, along with other community agencies.

What's really important to envision is not who should have the exclusive right or franchise in a community to do literacy or who should be out of the game, but how in our communities we can provide multiple access points for different learners to come in and get what they need in a coordinated way. We can't afford an uncoordinated way. It's not a question of whether the college should have the responsibility or a social agency, community-based agency or a school board; it's that we want to ensure that in communities there's real planning.

For some adults, seeing the school where they may not have done so well, seeing even the colour of the brick might make them a touch queasy. For other adults, that's precisely where they need to go. There needs to be geographical accessibility and emotional accessibility to get exactly what they need, when they need it. It's not a question of either/or but a question of having a very strong, community-based coordination. Sante Mauti is with me and may want to add or even correct something I might have just said.

Mr Sante Mauti: Actually, you made an excellent point about the parents needing literacy upgrading as well. In fact, what Charles was alluding to was building enough flexibility into the system through programs like some of the family literacy programs fund, where we have professionals or even volunteers going in and doing kitchen-table literacy with families on Saturdays or Sundays or at night, so they can continue working and get that type of training. It's an excellent point, that school boards are participating in those programs by sponsoring and working with community groups to deliver that type of family literacy training as well. What we're trying to build is a very flexible system around the many diverse needs you mentioned.


Mr Marchese: I'm well aware of the philosophical questions around whether or not teachers should be delivering the program; whether they're trained, in fact, to deliver adult education programs. Many can't deliver an adult education program because they use a different kind of teaching model which is inappropriate for adults. And yes, you're right about whether the school is an appropriate space for some people who may have had difficult times with the schools. All of that is part of the debate about whether schools should be doing it, or colleges, for that matter, or simply the community groups that are delivering the literacy programs.

In terms of the ministry's philosophical approach to this issue, what funding or what flexibility does the ministry provide for boards to carry that out as a provincial initiative that we think is a good one? What are the limitations and so on?

Mr Mauti: We're sponsoring, and we've been funding for the last year and a half, a quality and standards project addressing those precise questions, getting together all the literacy deliverers in communities, and that includes school boards, community colleges and community groups. They have been working for the last year and a half and will be ready to come public in the summer and fall of this year with some standards, evaluation standards, quality standards and professional standards around teaching adults. The whole community has been involved for the last year and a half and we're almost ready with what is in effect a curriculum and a practitioner's guide for teaching adults and people with special needs around literacy.

Mr Marchese: We don't have the time to continue exploring the many questions I have around it. The main point I want to make, and then move on to another one quickly, is that when parents are learning to read and write in the school, part of the curriculum is to link up to their children's education. As you learn to read and write, you actually use learning material as well so you have a sense of what students are doing in the classroom and the parent can key in on things their children can be doing. That's one of the essential points I want to make about the need for literacy, the need for ministries to say: "Yes, it's an important part of the continuum. Schools can deliver these programs. We'll fund adults the way we would fund students." Those are the points I wanted to make.

On the whole issue of integration versus segregation, philosophically, I believe integration is the way to go. I understand the concerns on this issue Mrs Cunningham is raising, along with Noel Duignan, but as we move to that integration model, I believe we must provide all the support systems that need to be there. If not, it will fail in the first five, six, seven years. Unless we bring in the supports as integration moves, that transitional period can be chaotic for the system, for teachers and particularly for students. I believe most of the needs could be met in an integrated classroom while allowing for some programs to be segregated because, yes, some students may not be able to be accommodated. I just wanted to make my statement in relation to these two approaches, that integration is the better way to go, but before we do it we need the support system.

Mr Duignan: I want to return to teacher education for a minute. We've had a chance to discuss this a little in the last couple of days.

In your opening statement on Monday, you mentioned that the teacher in the classroom is the backbone of the education system. During our discussion, we recognized the fact that Ontario has the lowest practical experience requirements in Canada and also that teachers are not required, in most cases, to have an academic background in the subjects they teach. In regulation 298, for example, teachers in the primary and junior divisions -- that's up to grade 6 -- are not required to hold qualifications in any subject area. In the intermediate area, grades 7 to 8, they're required to hold one, and in high school they're required to hold two. Also in that regulation, it provides for boards to appoint, in cases of emergency, persons who are not teachers, or temporary teachers as defined in the regulations.

What's defined as a case of emergency? How long does that case of emergency last? Who are these people who are not teachers who can teach in the classroom? How long can they actually teach in a classroom?

Dr Pascal: That's a very good question. I myself am looking forward to the answer, and I'll ask Maurice Lamontagne to respond.

Mr Maurice Lamontagne: The regulation does require that an emergency is when a qualified teacher cannot be found and for the safety and welfare of pupils there needs to be a responsible adult in the classroom. The definition of that in the regulation is a person who is at least 18 years old and does have the minimum of a high school diploma and is a Canadian citizen or a person with landed immigrant status. Essentially, that is the minimum the regulation requires.

In many, many cases what the school boards do is hire people who are qualified as teachers but not presently involved in teaching full-time. Most school boards keep a supply list, a list of people who are qualified or who are experienced in coming into classrooms on an emergency basis who are reliable adults. This is to a maximum of 10 days. Beyond that, the board has to go through the exercise of finding someone who is qualified.

Mr Duignan: There still is the point that for up to two school weeks there could actually be somebody over the age of 18 in the classroom teaching something he or she actually knows nothing about.

Mr Lamontagne: That is correct.

Mr Duignan: Is that something we need to revisit and take a look at, redefine that regulation?

Dr Pascal: The whole area, the question you raise today and the discussion you raised yesterday or the day before, is really crucial and a subject that the royal commission, I expect, will have something to say about. There are some real issues, as you've suggested, in terms of comparing our situation with other jurisdictions. Again the research would indicate that we have to have a finer analysis of it in terms of whether we're comparing apples and oranges. But the issue of certification, qualification and updating is extremely important, and we look forward to the royal commission's response on it.

Mr Maurice Poirier: I'd like to add that behind every law there's a reason. As Maurice explained a while ago, we have to have a fallback position. I'm not commenting on whether the qualifications are appropriate. I'm just saying that there's a need for a mechanism by regulation that will permit school boards, in cases of absolutely no one available, to have access under the law to an adult to bring into the classroom. It does not make it the norm, but it certainly permits school boards to legally bring someone in.

Your point is well taken. As we've said here, we need to look at the essence of the qualifications of that person, but the fact remains that school boards need legal authority to bring someone into the classroom with children. That's the reason behind it.

Mr Duignan: I understand there could be circumstances like that, but I do have a concern that we could have someone over the age of 18 in a classroom for up to two weeks with no qualifications to teach or impart knowledge to the pupils in that classroom.

Mr Maurice Poirier: There are some instances in remote parts of the province where such people are very difficult to find, and the law has to provide for those limits.

Mr Duignan: Given that situation -- and I give credit to the legislative research; they pose a question in here along those lines -- is there a need to update and tighten the regulations governing teachers' certification rather than continue to delegate responsibility to the faculties of education?

Dr Pascal: As I suggested yesterday, as with our discussions in these three days of dialogue on other issues -- special education being a really good example, changing towards a new curriculum, testing -- in order to ensure that teachers are prepared with self-confidence throughout their careers and given the proper support they deserve and need, given the issues raised in the Provincial Auditor's report around teacher education, there's a need for quality assurance and consistency and whether or not something major needs to be done.

I'll have to stand down from answering that on the record. I have my own personal ideas about what should happen. I have a great deal of respect for Madame Bégin and Mr Caplan and their commissioners to come in with something that will respond to that. It's an area of exceptional importance and I think what's required is something rather bold, but I really don't want to say more than that.


I can say that three days ago I received a report about what's taking place in Nova Scotia with respect to faculties of education and the recommendations to come out of that. Two of its authors are well-known Ontario educational leaders, and there are some fairly bold things you can read there.

But I think we're going to have to wait, publicly, for the learning commission to report. I don't want at all to diminish the importance of the need for your question to be answered. It's not timely for me to give you a direct personal opinion because the commission's work is not done.

The Chair: We can continue if members so desire, but we've had a go-round for each of the parties, and at this point I think we would say to the deputy that we've had you here long enough for the last number of days. Thank you for your cooperation and your thoroughness, and we'd like to hear back from you at some point in the next little while. I believe we're sitting again in March.

Mr Murphy: Mr Chair, has the deputy any concluding comments he'd like to make before we end?

The Chair: I will allow him to do that. I was just going to point out that we do have a number of issues that perhaps we could deal with and get some further direction from you about what your plans are to move in those areas. You may want to elaborate in your concluding remarks.

Dr Pascal: I would be delighted to come back. My colleagues, who are behind me and beside me in more ways than one, have heard me say behind your backs, as we prepared for dealing with public accounts -- in fact, they've heard me talk about my personal respect for the public accounts process. They have seen and I have felt in the three days of our discussions that this experience was incredibly constructive.

I've been here before, as some members know. This is the most non-partisan experience I've experienced as a bureaucrat who's been around Queen's Park for about seven years. The manner in which all members contributed to the public agenda, through constructive questions and following each other's line of questioning when that was appropriate for the sake of the agenda as opposed to partisanship, was of great benefit to the people of Ontario.

I must say by way of accountability and feedback, because it goes both ways, that has not always been my personal experience. I don't want to back off from putting that on the record. For me, this has been incredibly important.

The Provincial Auditor as well has our thanks; not always creating a great level of comfort, because some of the areas for which we are obviously in need of change cause discomfort and a touch of pain. But in the areas of special education with respect to the kind of monitoring and tightening up that has to happen, the improvement of the IPRC process, the issues we discussed around the special education advisory committees, the work that will be done as a result of this process will pay off and it's been extremely valuable.

In the area of accountability, where we need to continue the work that has begun in terms of setting clear learning outcomes and providing the people of Ontario -- including more involved parents and more involved teachers in the process -- the discussion has been excellent and, quite frankly, quite satisfying in terms of the reinforcing comments.

From my point of view, this has been extremely positive. I just wanted to say that, because when I said at the outset of my concluding remarks that I would be delighted, there will be those watching this who've had other experiences who think: "There's a bit of politics. What do you mean, you'd be delighted to come back to public accounts?" I would be delighted because it advantages the most important agenda, and that's not the agenda of an individual ministry but an agenda that is extremely important to the taxpayers of this province.

My last comment is to Mr Callahan. I am a little slow in terms of responding constructively to some of the issues you raised about learning disabilities and Correctional Services. As I began to reflect further, I recalled that Dr Daniel Fader, an English professor at the University of Michigan, wrote a book about 20 years ago -- I will try to get you a copy of it -- called Hooked on Books. He worked in the prison system of the United States, Michigan in particular, with a very broad band of learners with lots of difficulties, both social and academic, and through a process of using different approaches he developed the use of books as currency in the prison, not cigarettes. It's a fascinating study. I'm sorry to say he was a professor of English instead of one of my brothers or sisters in the field of psychology, but I will try to get that book for you. It might be useful to your discussions next week.

The Chair: Thank you once again for being thorough and for making us feel good on the public accounts committee once in a while. We look forward to hearing from you again because we know it will advance the agenda, as you say, in this critical area. We want to explore some of these areas with you in the future.

We're going to move to an in camera session for the last hour or so of our deliberations.

The committee continued in closed session at 1508.