2000 – School Board Initiative

Historical Archive: In April 2000, OFTP sent an information package to all the school boards in Ontario. Its documents are listed at the end of the cover letter.

Cover Letter

April 4, 2000

Dear School Board Official,

This package was compiled for you by the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents. We are  a non-sectarian, non-profit, volunteer-managed group with a strong commitment to providing information about Family and Community-based Education  (Homeschooling)  to anyone who is interested.

We act as a link between educators and institutions such as the provincial government and  school boards.  We communicate, on behalf of our members, to administrators, politicians and elected officials, about the rights of parents to choose an educational model best suited for their children. We support parental choice in education as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As a trustee, or appointed official, you represent the local community, providing a link between electors and the education system. We invite you familiarize  yourself with some of the current issues.

You may be particularly interested to read a draft document which has resulted from a  series of meetings involving the Provincial School Attendance Counselor (PSAC), and various stakeholders who met to examine current practices with an eye toward improvement.

As well as the draft about best practices for Boards as they are shaping their own policies,  this package contains an example of one school board's adopting of the current draft, suggested readings related to home based education and alternative  educational philosophies, and some excellent web sites to help you explore further.

We invite you to contact us for more information.

Herb Jones, OFTP Administration

Enclosures:

About Family and Community-based Education (Homeschooling) in Ontario
Draft Document prepared in co-operation with the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor
Durham County School Board home schooling procedures
OFTP Brochure
Home Schooling Fact Sheet
Information Sources


About Family and Community-based Education (Homeschooling) in Ontario

In Ontario, students are not restricted to attending public schools. Parents can legally opt to provide for their children’s education privately, either in a school setting or at home.  Students educated at home grow up to be well-adjusted citizens and active contributors to society. They have been welcomed  at post secondary institutions, especially in the United States, although awareness and acceptance is growing at Canadian universities and colleges as well.

Families choose to homeschool for varied reasons. Many have an educational philosophy which is different from that provided in an institutional setting. At times, parents may choose homeschooling after it becomes evident that their child is not progressing well in school. Most choose to continue because they value the strength of character and self-esteem which emerges from basing education within the family and community, and the rich quality of family life it permits.

A memo issued by the Ministry of Education in 1981, and never raised to the status of a guideline, did little to help demystify homeschooling or to help Boards determine effective, uniform policies. Since then, homeschooling families and support groups have been advocating for change.

On February 6, 1998, OFTP submitted a complaint to the Ombudsman of Ontario,  concerning human rights violations due to the actions of various School Boards. This report accurately portrayed the harassment suffered by home schooling families at the hand of some School Boards across the province of Ontario. The complete report and the reply of the Ombudsman is available at [old URL replaced with current one:] http://ontariohomeschool.org/OReport/

In the past year, there has been a series of consultations designed to explore possible best practices for Boards in relation to home-based education under Ontario's current laws. Taking part in these discussions: Jim Sebastian, Provincial School Attendance Counsellor (PSAC); Pierce Thomas, president of  the Ontario Association of  Counselling and Attendance Services (OACAS); Glen Purcell, Scarborough attendance counsellor; Des Brennan, attendance counsellor from the Hamilton-Wentworth  School Board; Betty Brown, Superintendent of Education, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board;  Jack Barbibeau, Director from  Home Schooling Legal Defense Association (HSLDA); Jake Zwart, Secretary of the Ontario Christian Home Educators' Connection (OCHEC); Albert Lubberts, president of OFTP and  Donna Sheehan, executive member of OFTP.

These meetings have led to increased understanding and to the drafting of a document. The draft document outlines different degrees of contact which families who are  choosing to educate their children at home may have with their local School Board, and still be seen to be in compliance with the Education Act.

The Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents supports parental choice in education as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (26-3) of the United Nations and  believes contact between local Boards and home educating families must be of a voluntary nature.

OFTP encourages school boards, as they develop new policies, to find ways to foster good relationships with learners who are, or who have been, pursuing academic studies at home.


Telephone Follow Up - about ten OFTP members volunteered to follow up with a phone call to the school boards asking if they had received and read the materials and if there were any questions.