Below is the text of an email sent June 26th, 2016 to Shirley Seward and copied to the OCDSB trustees and director. It is a response to the response received by OPERI from the Board after the June 7th presentation. OPERI has since received an email from Shirley saying that we could freely share the contents of these exchanges.
Thank you for your response to the OPERI presentation to the OCDSB Committee of the Whole June 7th. We are obviously still some distance apart in our thinking, but OPERI respects that the OCDSB trustees and staff are dedicated to providing the best possible education system for Ottawa students.
A point of clarification is that OPERI is not looking for a partnership with the OCDSB. It is simply working to bring attention to compelling ideas. The more the public is aware of the full range of possibilities for public education, the more empowered innovative educators will be to bring about needed change.
The efforts being made by the OCDSB to encourage inquiry-based learning and student-centred learning are worthy, but the success being witnessed with them is not an end in itself; it is further evidence of the need for systemic change. The concern is that the OCDSB is still striving to make the wrong system right instead of embracing the system where inquiry-based learning and student-centred learning happen naturally.
Parents are increasingly becoming aware of the benefits of the democratic learning model. This is seen with the unschooling movement which in essence is student-centred learning. Unschooling does not mean the end of public education, but rather the development of learning environments that provide for how children learn best. Parents who want these kinds of environments for their children need to be regarded as every bit entitled to them, as are parents who prefer traditional education. OPERI proposes a way to equitably provide for both groups. The proposal is scalable; it minimizes disruption and requires no new funding, nor any Ministry approval. The trend is towards students acquiring more control over their learning and OPERI describes how the OCDSB can get firmly in front of it.
Prince Ea recently released a 2-minute video titled Why School Sucks. I have little doubt that you and other OCDSB board members and staff are well aware of what he has to say and that you share his concerns. The roots of those concerns can be addressed immediately. Please do not underestimate the opportunities contained in the ideas OPERI is promoting.
Over the summer, OPERI will be revising its website to better convey its vision of how public education can remake itself. We appreciate that you will continue to consider information we provide and we will notify you when the revisions are complete.
With respect to the confidentiality notice at the end of your message, I assume that it is something you automatically attach to your communications. The OPERI presentation was public and so any response from you needs to be seen as “for the public record”. Also, as a spokesperson for OPERI, I have an obligation to share communications with supporters and other involved parties. I trust that you see the confidentiality notice as inapplicable in this situation.