Reviews of "An Analysis of Ontario Aboriginal Education Policy: Critical and Interpretive Perspectives."

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper provides a historical and contemporary interpretation of the developmental influences that have led to the Ministry of Education's recent focus on Aboriginal educational policy in Ontario, Canada. It offers an interpretive and critical perspective of the rhetorical constructions, assumptions and value-orientations implicit in two seminal documents. This discussion will assist Aboriginal Advisory Groups and communities, as well as policy-makers and practitioners, to think clearly about implementation strategies in the broader context of Aboriginal socio-educational development.

The reviewers' comments / suggestions have been addressed. I have consulted the various resources, as well as two others. They have proven to be valuable sources that further the issues addressed in this paper. I have included a note regarding the involvement of Aboriginal stakeholders in the drafting of the documents, as per Reviewer A's suggestion. Further, I have elaborated upon the nature by which Aboriginal Advisory Groups can advocate for more culturally-responsive schooling practices.

Specific to Reviewer B, you will note that the identity discourse has been addressed, as has the language used to justify residential schools. I have also elaborated upon the very important point of Aboriginal selfdetermination as recommended by this reviewer.

I have distinguished the respective revisions and editions in red font within the body of the manuscript.

Submission Date: December 11, 2008

Date of Re-Submission: February 16, 2009

INTRODUCTION

The recently released Aboriginal education policy in Ontario, Canada, represents a self-declared commitment by the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME) to address the learning needs and achievement of Aboriginal1 students in publicly-funded schools across the province. Since education is a provincial responsibility in Canada (with the exception of First Nations schools that are operated federally), the OME has made a 12.7 million dollar investment to support their policy initiatives and allocated an additional 22.7 million dollars towards resources and services (Aboriginal Education Strategy, 2007). The OME's seminal policy document, First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework (2007) aims to reconcile the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal students in Ontario, an intent that has been noted in previous government publications (Paquette, 2007). The First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework (the Framework) states that school boards, administrators, teachers, and the OME itself will make an active commitment to more adequately address Aboriginal students' distinct learning needs. The Framework cites the importance of providing Aboriginal students with culturally-relevant learning environments that better reflect their epistemic traditions and values.

The companion document that is of equal import, Building Bridges to Success for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Students (2007) - (Building Bridges) - provides public school boards in Ontario with an outline to develop and implement policies for voluntary, confidential Aboriginal student self-identification. According to the OME, Aboriginal self-identification will better equip educators and policy-makers with improved decisionmaking capacities to distinguish the success of various program interventions in meeting the needs of Aboriginal learners. The document underscores the necessity of drawing upon accurate and reliable data to assess Aboriginal students' progress and in turn, close the aforementioned achievement gap. Both documents recognize that Aboriginal student achievement is subject to a myriad of historical and socio-cultural realities (Castellano, Davis, Lahache, 2000; Hill & George, 1996). The OME documents address the necessity of heightening the awareness of teachers and school administrators in regards to Aboriginal student preferences, and suggest that pedagogical practices be more aligned with holistic epistemic understandings of teaching and learning. …