People for Education
Our Impact Why We Exist
Canadians link the success of the country with the strength of public education.
To accomplish our vision, People for Education is:
- Leading a conversation about the purpose and value of universal public education.
- Leading an alliance to broaden the public's definition of school success and expand how success is measured.
- Engaging a broader constituency from inside and outside the education sector to include a new generation of advocates and a wide range of civic leaders.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
Founded in 1996, People for Education began as part of the parent association at a downtown Toronto school and has grown into a provincial organization with links to communities across Ontario.
We provide information about Ontario's education system that is objective, written in plain language, and based on strong research. In 2004 People for Education became a registered charity.
Accolades and Accomplishments
- 2014 Vital Ideas Award, Toronto Community Foundation
- 2012 Award for Special Achievement, Ontario School Libraries' Association
- 20111 Award of Distinction, Ontario Student Trustees' Association
- 2008 Vital Ideas Award, Toronto Community Foundation
- 2005 Vital People Award (Annie Kidder), Toronto Community Foundation
- 2005 Outstanding Contribution to Education, Ontario Principals' Council
- 2005 Canadian Teachers' Federation Public Education Advocacy Award
- 2004 Ontario Teachers' Federation Fellowship Award
“Within the field of education in Canada, People for Education is in the forefront and one of the few organizations in this country that is focusing on knowledge mobilization for parents.” - Canadian Education Association
“The leadership demonstrated by People for Education to support parents and public education in Ontario schools over the past number of years has been exemplary.” - Ontario Physical and Health Education Association
“People for Education consistently demonstrates sensitivity as to how issues relate to newcomers and develops materials and strategies that meet the needs of a range of communities. SWIS agencies regularly use their resources, engage them for workshops, and participate in their network.” - Settlement Workers in Schools
Our Programs How We Do It
People for Education offers programs that support parents' engagement in their children's education. Our research and work with the media ensures that the broader public has access to clear information about Ontario's education system and the impact of policy and funding changes.
Program 1: Workshops for Parents
People for Education provides workshops for parents so that they can be effectively involved in their children’s education. We also provide workshops and speakers for parent organizations, community agencies and professional associations to help them work effectively with parents.
Our speakers, webinar and workshop leaders can address a wide variety of school-related issues, including:
- Parent involvement that makes a difference
- Advocating for your child
- Special education
- EQAO and standardized testing
- Coping with transitions
Hundreds of parents from marginalized communities have participated in workshops led by People for Education. In evaluations, participants described the sessions as useful and valuable and 95% of them felt more confident about participating in their children’s education.
In follow-up assessments with school staff, they report that parents who have participated in the workshops have more interactions with the school, and connect earlier in the school year, as they feel more comfortable asking questions. Nancy Steinhauer, principal at one of the participating schools reported “The program brings people to speak to parents, and they start to understand the services that are available through the school. We have been able to connect with families in a whole new way.”
Evaluation comments from newcomer program participants include:
“Thank you very much. Your workshop has given me valuable advice. It really makes sense. Appreciate it very much.”
“The workshop has given me confidence to send my son to school, now that I know what to expect.”
“Thanks a lot for your help. You do give very good and plenty information that will help me and my child.”
Toronto's Vital Signs® Report 2013:
- “94% of Toronto elementary schools have English Language Learners (ELL)"
- “The number of schools with ELL students but no specialized ESL teacher is up almost 15% over last year, to 31% of elementary schools"
- “Toronto students who are still being 'streamed' into applied courses are less likely to graduate from high school...There is a link between the school's socio-economic profile and the percentage of students taking applied courses."
Program 2: Online Community
Description:This interactive website (http://discuss.peopleforeducation.ca/) is a place where community members share information, resources and ideas/opinions about a wide variety of education issues. It is designed to appeal to, and be accessible to, a broad cross-section of education stakeholders, including parents, educators, administrators, and community organziations.
The discussions are moderated by staff and volunteers. In the discussions, parents benefit from the expertise of our staff, as well as the advice/support they receive from one another, and from others. There is often not one “right answer” but many possible perspectives and solutions, leading to lively debates on some topics.
Our online community has grown to 1,400 members, and receives over 5,000 visits per month. There are currently 165 active discussions in the online community, with topics ranging from the practical (“What’s your great parent inclusion idea?”), to the more philosophical (“How do we define success
Michelle Andreoli posted a question asking for help to change the existing practice at her school where only the “best” athletes made the sports teams. “ I really appreciate everyone’s comments and suggestions, I am new to this site and I am finding it very helpful already!” She later posted... “I thought I would just give everyone who was so helpful in this athletics discussion an update. We have had a series of meetings - teachers/coaches and principal, and Executive CSAC committee and principal. The principal finished the meeting by letting everyone know what the course of actions will be to enhance our athletic and non-athletic activities. These are great strides and I am very pleased with the leadership the principal is taking and that he sees this as a necessary process. Overall this is great stuff! Thank you all for your help and advice and I hope this also helps others!”
Toronto Vital Signs Report 2013
- "Fewer than 50% of Toronto students got the mandated Daily Physical Activity, and none were spending the recommended 20 minutesin moderate to vigorous physical activity"
- "Almost two-thirds of Canadian LGBT students and 61% of students with LGBT parents feel unsafe at school."
- "More than one million Torontonians live in low-income neighbourhoods (20% or more below average income) and the polarization of wealth and poverty is deepening."
The Atkinson Charitable Foundation, RBC Foundation, TD Bank Financial Group, R. Howard Webster Foundation, The Bennett Family Foundation, The BLG Foundation, The Teow Family Foundation at the Toronto Community Foundation, Shum Vourkoutiotis Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation, and individual donors.
What You Can Do
Workshops for Parents
- Increased number of workshops for newcomer parents available in more schools
- Train-the-trainer workshops with community agency staff to increase their ability to assist parents of school-aged children
Research shows that parent involvement contributes to higher student achievement, better attendance, improved classroom and school climate, and better relationships between parents and teachers. But newcomers and many low-income parents may find the system intimidating or confusing, or they do not feel welcome in their children’s schools. These workshops ensure that more parents can effectively support their children, ensuring success for students across the socio-economic spectrum.
- Train more multi-lingual volunteer moderators to help parents in our online community
- Translate discussions to other languages
- Provide more staff time to answer parent questions and provide relevant information/resources
- Create a multi-lingual parent discussion web space (questions would be answered in the language they were asked)
Students living in poverty, who are recent immigrants or whose families move frequently are less likely to succeed in school. The families of these students are often the most difficult to reach. Through the effective use of online tools such as the online community, parents will be able to easily access the information they need to support their children in school.