The Challenge Facing Parent Councils in Canada

By McKenna, Mary; Willms, J. Douglas | Childhood Education, September 15, 1998 | Go to article overview

The Challenge Facing Parent Councils in Canada


McKenna, Mary, Willms, J. Douglas, Childhood Education


During the 1990s, departments of education in all the Canadian provinces introduced legislation requiring all publicly funded schools to form parent advisory councils. A majority of schools now have councils, and by the year 2000 virtually every school will have one. The intention of this legislation is to provide parents with the opportunity and training to participate in school decisions. The establishment of formal advisory councils represents a significant opportunity for parents, yet also poses a major challenge: How can parents contribute meaningfully to school decisions that affect learning? This article describes the context of parent councils in Canada, and discusses three aspects of this challenge: 1) establishing parents' authority as decision-makers, 2) expanding parents' roles and 3) widening the constituency of involved parents.(1)

Parent Advisory Councils in Canada

Unlike most developed countries, Canada does not have a national government body responsible for education. Instead, the federal government provides transfer payments to the ten provinces and two territories, which have constitutional jurisdiction over education matters. Consequently, no national group sets the agenda for cooperation between home and school, and there is little collaboration on this issue among provincial departments of education.

Canadians take considerable pride in the equality of opportunity afforded by their education system, medical system and other social services. This ideology has a pervasive influence on policy-making at all levels. Historically, parents voiced their concerns through informal advisory councils, advocacy groups, and home-and-school associations. School staff were generally responsive to parents' concerns; parents seldom resorted to formal grievance procedures, and legal disputes were uncommon.

Recently, however, Canadians have become increasingly concerned about the quality of their schools. Compared with most European countries, Canada did not fare well in recent international studies of literacy skills and academic achievement (Willms, 1997). Conservative advocacy groups have called for the formation of charter schools with selective admission criteria, higher standards and stricter discipline. Teacher unions and many academic researchers have called for "restructuring" of schools to give parents, teachers and students greater autonomy (Fullan, 1992). Provincial governments, faced with massive funding cutbacks, have responded by consolidating school districts, transferring more authority to principals and placing greater emphasis on parental involvement.

Councils vary among provinces in their composition and formal roles. A few provincial councils only include parents, but in most provinces they comprise some designated combination of parents, teachers, principals, non-teaching school staff, community members and senior students. In most cases, the councils' role is advisory; they do not participate directly in setting policy or making school-related decisions. The scope of the advisory mandate varies among provinces, and may include helping to set curriculum policies, as well as decisions about budgeting, transportation, hiring practices, and development of school improvement plans.

Parent councils frequently co-exist with home-and-school associations. These associations are affiliated with the Canadian Home-School Parent-Teachers Federation, a national organization more than a century old. The Federation supports the establishment of parent councils and encourages other forms of parental involvement.

The formation of parent councils has increased dramatically the number of parents directly involved in school affairs. New Brunswick will be an interesting case to follow because in 1997, its provincial government disbanded elected school boards in favor of three levels of parent councils that advise at the school, district and provincial levels. Over 2,000 parents now serve on advisory councils in the province, which has a student population of approximately 80,000. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Challenge Facing Parent Councils in Canada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.