Two strands that are linking for me this morning:
Almost half of all Ontario high schools are still charging students course fees, despite guidelines introduced by the province last fall telling them not to, says an annual report on the state of education to be released Monday.
Schools are tapped for funds; these days, everyone is. As such, everyone is looking to squeeze a bit more out of each other, or spend a bit less themselves, to keep programming sustainable.
Yet, there is enough money out there - like blood it exists in sufficient quantity, the question is how well is it circulating between systems.
Instead of trying to squeeze money from families on tight budgets and in addition to the traditional ask for more money from government, why don't schools think outside the box a bit? What are the other services that parents pay for their kids to access and how can you profit from them? Look at after-school programming. What if, instead of parents racing from work and fighting through gridlock to get their kids and shuffle them between piano and language lessons, those were offered at the schools where the students study?
Schools could lease space, after-school service providers should charge parents, parents could save on gas and frustration, knowing their kids were in a safe place and still getting useful knowledge. For families that don't have so much money, there could be other activities in the school that are free or pay-as-you-can. There's a working model in here.
Mental-health problems cost Canada at least $50 billion per year, the report estimates, which amounts to 2.8 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
People fundamentally don't get mental health. The mind is a black box, as it were, with notions of individuality and self-control all locked up in the equation. The idea of mental health is stigmatized, although nobody would suggest they don't have a mind (indeed, "brainless" is an insult implying stupidity).
Because we aren't spending time exploring our mental health or figuring out how to build our mental fitness, we're essentially using a computer as a hammer and getting frustrated when it doesn't respond as commanded.
This stigmatization is costing us billions, fostering a culture of short-term decision making and adding more stress to an already-stressed population. When you get right down to it, student protests, ORNG, how employment works and is retained is about mental health, too.
The common denominator here is that the system that's carried us thus far is straining under the weight of the new challenges being placed on it. This strain is not without precedent - look at the Green Revolution.
As I watch strands unfold in multiple sectors - health reform, democratic engagement, education, the economy, foreign affairs, technology, etc - I can see where all these roads connect. We are in the process of unlearning our accepted limitations and starting to look more favourably on out-of-the-box solutions.