Bring our schools into the 21st century, writes York prof

Over the past two decades, e-mail has become a common way to communicate. However, Ontario’s public schools remain stuck in the paper-and-pen age, especially in regard to parent-teacher interaction, wrote York Professor Thomas Klassen [Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] in the Toronto Star Sept. 20.

This is because there is no explicit clause in the collective agreements of teachers mandating that they communicate with parents using e-mail. As such, each teacher is able to determine if she or he wishes to use e-mail. Not surprisingly, most decide not to. Some schools in the province are completely firewalled.

Teacher unions argue that e-mail communication between teachers and parents will leave teachers open to a flood of messages or unreasonable demands from parents. However, this is not the experience of other countries where e-mail is used. Parents well understand, and policies reinforce, that e-mail is appropriate for some types of matters, but not others. For urgent or complex matters a telephone call or in-person meeting is best, although an e-mail can be used to alert the teacher, or parents, to the need for a face-to-face meeting.

Schools boards have no levers to require teachers to use e-mail, especially since the province now controls all primary and secondary education funding. Only the provincial government can resolve this decade-long dysfunctional impasse.

On Oct. 7, when provincial politicians stop promising and start working, a priority should be to bring Ontario’s schools firmly into the 21st century. Connecting teachers and parents on the information highway must be a priority for whichever party forms the new government.

CLASP director receives fellowship to study law and disability

Marian MacGregor, clinic director for the Community & Legal Aid Services Program at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, will spend seven months developing an intensive clinical program in disability law, wrote the Law Times Sept. 19, in a story about the Law Foundation of Ontario fellowship awards.

“The impact of disability, often combined with poverty, can create serious access to justice barriers,” said MacGregor. “This new program will produce lawyers who are better equipped to meet the distinct needs of clients with disabilities, as well as involving students in the systemic change that needs to take place.”

York, Al-Quds sign academic deal

York University and Al-Quds University in Jerusalem signed an academic agreement earlier this year at a ceremony held on York’s Keele campus, wrote the Canadian Jewish News in its Sept. 22 edition.

“We are excited about this agreement and welcome the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Al-Quds University,” York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said in a statement. “York recognizes the value that these agreements have in enhancing the teaching, research and educational experience for faculty and students.”

The agreement with Al-Quds involved the signing of a student exchange protocol and a commitment to collaborate in establishing a public policy and administration program, including a school of public policy and administration at Al-Quds.

York also boasts a number of scholarships, partnerships and exchange programs with Israeli universities, including Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University.

According to York’s Centre for Jewish Studies director Sara Horowitz, York is also working to establish ties with the University of Haifa. “Regarding Al-Quds, I think ties with western institutions, fostering education, is in everyone’s best interest,” Horowitz wrote in an e-mail from Jerusalem.

Pan Am Games on track

Ian Troop, CEO of the [Pan Am] Games, denied [an] assertion that plans are in disarray, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 20.

He said construction of the athletes’ village will start in the fall and requests for proposals for the aquatic centre went out in early August, with construction set to begin next summer. He said they’re in the process of releasing requests for proposals for the York University athletic stadium, Ivor Wynne, and the velodrome in Hamilton.

"We’re on time and on budget from our perspective," said Troop. "We will keep moving forward with urgency and discipline."

York grad is morning radio man for Max 104.9

Featured this week is Max 104.9 morning show announcer Mike Sadavoy [BA Hons. ’01], wrote New Brunswick’s Bathurst Northern Light Sept. 20.

Mike was born and raised in Hamilton and he attended York University and Humber College in Toronto. Mike moved to Bathurst five years ago to work at Max 104.9. His parents are Lyle and Carolee Sadavoy and he has an older sister, Robin [BFA Hons. ’98, BA Hons. ’99], who lives in Toronto, a younger brother, Jacob, who lives in New York City, and a younger sister, Sarah [BSc ’07], who lives in Victoria, BC.

Best advice you’ve received?

The best advice I’ve received is, "Never take yourself too seriously because nobody else does."

On air

  • Fred Lazar, economics professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about business and the threat of a strike at Air Canada, on CBC Radio Sept. 19.
  • André deCarufel, executive director of the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA Program, spoke about how companies motivate staff during tough times, on BNN-TV Sept. 19.