"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
attributed to Margaret Mead, anthropologist
It's amazing what a grassroots organization like the OFTP can accomplish when its members include dedicated volunteers cooperating to make change happen. We're proud of the accomplishments our volunteers have made to date, and we look forward to what each new generation of OFTP members will accomplish in the future.
Here are a few of the initiatives we've undertaken so far to improve the educational, legal and social environment for all homeschooling families in Ontario:
- OFTP had several meetings with the Ministry of Education starting in 1997 in an effort to create better relations between homeschooling families and school boards. The concerted advocacy work continued over several years, as outlined below.
- In February 1998, the OFTP submitted an official complaint to the Ombudsman of Ontario concerning the broken relations between government agencies and home learners in Ontario.
- In 1998 and 1999, OFTP and other homeschooling groups had several meetings with the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor and several school board attendance counsellors regarding establishing better relations between the Ministry of Education, School Boards and homeschoolers. One of the end results of these meetings was a draft document entitled "Home Schooling: Successful Practices".
- In December 1999, after several years of legal conflict with the independent schools and OFTP in a Supreme Court case which the latter lost, the Ministry of Health finally announced that school health support services (i.e. occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, nursing, physiotherapy, dietetic services) would be extended to independent schools as well as home-educated school-aged children in Ontario commencing in the summer of 2000.
- In April 2000 OFTP prepared an information package on homeschooling that was distributed to Directors of Education, attendance counsellors and school board chairs. The desired result was to have school board officials and others be better educated about homeschooling and appreciate parents' rights to educate their children without interference and harassment.
- OFTP representatives have attended children's conferences which also included representatives from the Children's Aid Societies, various youth services, attendance and counselling services, community living association and mental health association. The OFTP representatives handed out homeschooling packages to the attendees in order to create positive awareness about OFTP and homeschooling.
- Largely as a result of OFTP lobbying, in May 2000 the Toronto Transit Commission passed a resolution allowing home educated students in the Toronto area to apply for a photo pass to use the TTC at student rates.
- OFTP collected the various homeschooling policies of Ontario school boards in order to better serve our members in their dealings with these boards.
- In 2000, as part of the CAS Initiative, OFTP recorded many incidents of harassment of homeschooling families by the Children's Aid Societies.
- OFTP launched a Post-Secondary Admissions Project in January 2001. This committee researched admission policies of colleges and universities of homeschooled students in Canada and the U.S. which resulted in a 49-page document that can be viewed on the OFTP website. The committee is still available to work with post-secondary institutions to educate them about homeschooling and encourage the preparation of admission policies for homeschoolers.
- OFTP has attended various professional conferences such as Children's Aid Services, Attendance Counsellors, University/College conferences, Parenting Conferences, etc. in order to educate as many bureaucrats, professionals and others across the province about OFTP and the benefits of home-based education.
- In June 2002, the meetings with the Ministry of Education that started in 1997 finally culminated in the release of a new official homeschooling policy, Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) No. 131.
Policy/Program Memorandum No. 131
The release of PPM131, in particular, was a major accomplishment, as it revoked the previous semi-official policy, the infamous Johnson Memorandum, thereby resulting in the most important change in School Board / Home Education relations in Ontario to date. Although still not perfect for homeschoolers, PPM131 is a vast improvement over the Johnson Memorandum, which encouraged school boards to engage in intrusive routine monitoring that often amounted to harassment. PPM131, by contrast, was intended to embody the government's new attitude and commitment to removing institutional bias and providing access to standardized tests and learning tools. To find out more, please visit the dedicated PPM131 section of the website.
Archives of Past Initiatives and Accomplishments
- 1981 – Johnson Memorandum
- 1997 – Correspondence with the Minister of Education
- 1997 – Leeds – School Trustees Questions and Answers
- 1997 – OFTP Response to a School Board
- 1998 – Ombudsman Report
- 1998 – Press Release for Ombudsman Submission
- 1999 – “Home Schooling: Successful Practices” (Draft Document)
- 1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – intro
- 1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – part 1
- 1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – part 2
- 1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – part 3
- 1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – part 4
- 1999 – A Message to School Board Trustees – part 5
- 1999 – Durham District School Board Homeschooling Procedures
- 2000 – Home Education Fact Sheet
- 2000 – OACAS part 2: CATO article
- 2000 – Resource List for Information on Home Education
- 2000 – School Board Initiative
- 2000 – Social Services Initiative – intro
- 2000 – Social Services Initiative – part 3
- 2001 – Developing Homeschool Admission Policies
- 2001 – Funding of Colleges for Home-Educated Students
- 2001 – Home Rules Special Edition – info package
- 2001 – Homeschooling Policies of Ontario School Boards
- 2001 – Ministry Advice to a School Attendance Counsellor
- 2001 – Paper Inquiry
- 2001 – Private School Funding Ontario
- 2001 – Reply Letter to OFTP from the Minister of Education
- 2001 – Sample Reply Letters to School Boards
- 2001 – School Boards Increase Pressure
- 2002 – PPM Communication Plan
- 2002 – Views on Policy/Program Memorandum No.131
- 2005 – Letter to the Ministry of Child and Youth Services
- 2006 – Bill 52 and Homeschooling
- 2006 – OFTP Request for Changes to Directive 2.2 (ODSP) and Directive 21.0 (Ontario Works)