These accomplishments have not gone unnoticed outside Canada. The McKinsey group, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C., and Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance have all done recent case studies on Ontario's education system, concluding that it is one of the most improved and highest performing in the world. They especially admire the impressive, innovative strategy that got the results. So, what's the secret?
It's simple. Ontario public schools follow a model embraced by top-performing hospitals, businesses, and organizations worldwide. Specifically, they do five things in concert -- focus, build relationships, persist, develop capacity, and spread quality implementation.
In other words – move forward together. Not just a cute political line, but a model that succeeds. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Let's not rest on our laurels, though - we can make one of the world's best education systems even better. The current appetite for change allows for new ideas and structural changes that are long overdue.
Extending the school year is just one such example; very few kids need the tilling season to help on the family farm any more, which is was the point of that system. Doing that (but including sufficient break periods throughout the year) means more education, could allow for teachers to have more normalized schedules (with a couple blocks of weeks off here and there for battery recharging) and make better use of our education infrastructure. With an expanded suite of after-school programming, it can be easier for parents of all economic backgrounds to provide quality extracurricular programs for their kids and manage their own time better, too.
That's one idea - there are plenty more good ones out there. When we choose not to settle for best, there's no limit to how far we can go.