The issue selected by my group revolves around the broad debate faced in Ontario high schools regarding the overall educational benefits of Academic versus Applied courses. The basis of our research will look into why applied high school courses are considered substandard in comparison to Academic courses. In regards to my contribution, the first part looked into whether there were any political influences behind the creation and continued status of applied and academic courses. How far the reach of the political power is, whether or not they are a dominant factor behind the issue and what possible gain they may have. Secondly, based on our topic we proposed possible barriers we may face should we come up with opinions or suggestions to improve the ‘stigma’ of applied programs. The overall plan of this paper is to outline the various power holders within government and how they along with other factors may create problems with our efforts to eliminate and improve the perception of applied courses.
Political Influence behind High School Courses
Research done by Zegarac and Franz (2007) about “Secondary School Reform,” gives a brief layout into who controls the secondary school curriculum. They state that the Ontario education system “is organized on three levels, within which the Ministry of Education, school boards, and schools, form the nucleus of the system” (Zegarac and Franz, 2007). The Ontario Ministry of Education website offers a brief breakdown of the various members and groups involved within the system.
The first level involves the “Ontario Government and the Education Act” as an “education is a provincial government responsibility in Canada” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009). Those within the Ontario Government follow the rules and regulations found within the Education Act (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009). This level also includes the Ministry of Education and Training who are directly involved in “developing curriculum” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009). As well, the Ministry of Education is in charge of setting “policies and guidelines for school trustees, directors of education, principals and other school board officials” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009). In this case, the Ministry played a large role in the creation of the Ontario Secondary School Reform of 1999. The debate between the creation of academic and applied courses stems from the 80s, where high school students were “streamed” into “basic (vocational), general (college-bound) and advanced (university-bound) levels” (Rushowy, 2013). Reports at the time suggested that the “high dropout rates” were a result of the streaming technique. As a result, in 1999 the curriculum was then revamped by the Ministry of Education and Training, introducing the Secondary School reform.
The MP, Deputy Minister and MPP involved were as follows: in 1999 Hon. Janet Ecker was the MP of the Ministry of Education and also Progressive...