Volume 95, Issue 84

Wednesday, March 13, 2002
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London declares all-out war on smokers

Brand new crusty old dean?

Police chase Beaver balcony jumper

Dalhousie strike gets nastier by the day

OPSEU strike may affect OSAP

Vote and drop out at 18

News Briefs

Vote and drop out at 18

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

A new plan unveiled by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, which proposes mandatory schooling until age 18, has been met with criticism from one of Western's most prominent education experts.

The OSSTF recently released their Student Success Plan – outlining numerous recommendations for change in Ontario's secondary school system.

According to David Moss, executive assistant of communications for OSSTF, the plan deals primarily with alternatives to current policies.

The plan suggests students be required to remain in school until age 18, two years longer than the current requirement of 16. While they do not need to remain in classes, under the proposal students will be forced to participate in various education programs linking them to colleges and universities or the workforce.

The comprehensive plan includes a variety of suggestions, such as increased funding and improved programs for students with disabilities.

Western education professor Rebecca Coulter said the inflexibility in such a program is problematic.

"Schools need to be more flexible. Maybe the student who takes a half a year off to work at McDonald's will come to realize getting an education is a good idea," she said.

"By allowing students to opt-out at 16, [the government] allows them to restrict themselves," Moss said, adding there has been much support for the plan among the OSSTF, parents and the provincial New Democratic Party.

The Ontario Ministry of Education has looked over the recommendations and said while it will not dismiss the proposal, the plan requires further revision before any policy considerations are made.

"Our priority is to ensure all students have the education they need to be successful in life," said Scott Brownrigg, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, adding early high-school graduates pose a problem in raising the drop-out age.

Coulter said there are flaws in the plan's conception. While some figures indicate the high-school drop-out rate is around 30 per cent, Coulter said a more realistic number is between 10 and 15 per cent. With such a low figure, she questions the effectiveness of raising the legal drop-out age, she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002