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September 22, 2009

An Open Letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty

The Ontario government has before it a blueprint for major educational reform, one that will make Ontario the best place there is to raise a child. To do the best for our children, we need to create the finest possible education and family service system. With Our Best Future in Mind, the report of the Premier’s early learning advisor, maps out how Ontario can achieve more family-centred schools that are vibrant learning hubs for children and their parents.

The plan envisions our elementary schools buzzing with parent programs, recreation, arts, social activities and homework clubs long after the last school bell rings. Our youngest learners, from infants to preschoolers and their families, will enjoy expanded opportunities for early learning and care, pre-and postnatal supports, playgroups, parent resources and health assessments. Every four- and five-year-old child will be entitled to a full school day of learning and four- to 12-year-olds will be able to participate in extended day and summer programs enriching their opportunities to succeed.

When the plan for child- and family-centred schools is in place Ontario will become the Canadian leader with a world-class education system. As the foremost family-friendly province, Ontario will attract the best and the brightest because it helps families raise the best and the brightest.

All eyes are now rightly on Ontario.

Families and children are ready. Municipalities and school boards are ready. Educators and champions of publicly funded education are ready.

This is our opportunity to get it right, for children and families today and for the benefit of all into the future.

Getting it right: The 3Rs of making Ontario the best place to raise a child

Do the right thing: Wholesale change
The recommendations in the early learning report are interdependent parts for wholesale positive change. Implementing some changes (such as full day JK/SK and not others, such as enriching out-of-school options and holistic services for parents and preschoolers) will lessen their effectiveness, add to the fragmentation that now plagues education and family services and will fail to provide accountability for investments and results.

Do it right: Adopt the goals and timetables in the report.
That means September 2010 is the start date with 2012 the rollout end date. This is a doable timeframe: 35% of our schools now have the capacity to become centres for children and families. They should be ready to go by September 2010. At the same time the provincial government should announce its plans to make all schools child and family ready by 2012.

Do it with the right resources: Build in quality from the start
Give local governments and school boards the resources they need to do the job well. Establish the provincial infrastructure required to support the new system. Ensure staff are appropriately trained and supported. Develop standards and transparent accountability mechanisms.

Premier McGuinty, we are part of a groundswell of supporters for transformative change that makes Ontario the educational place to watch.

We are committed to this vision and offer our support towards securing Ontario’s best future.

Yours truly,

Hon. David Crombie, O.C

Annie Kidder, People for Education

Hon. Margaret McCain, O.C., Co-Chair, Early Years Studies 1 and 2

Stuart Shanker, Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative, York University

Robin Williams, MD, Medical Officer of Health, Niagara Region

Avie Bennett, O.C.,Chancellor Emeritus, York University

Ken Battle, President, Caledon Institute of Social Policy

The Hon. Monique Begin

Dr. Fraser Mustard, Founder, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Charles S. Coffey, O.C.

Penny Milton, Canadian Education Association

Jill Worthy, Superintendent of Education, Toronto District School Board

Patricia Chroney Rubin, Director, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College

Kenneth Coran, President, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation

Hon. Wm. G. Davis, P.C., C.C., Q.C

Jane Gaskell, Professor and Dean, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Martha Friendly, Executive Director, Childcare Resource and Research Unit

Frances Lankin
 President & CEO
United Way Toronto

Anne Marie DeCicco-Best Mayor, City of London

Rachel Langford, PhD., Director, School of Early Childhood Education, Ryerson University

Valerie Sterling, President, Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alpha)

Veronica Lacey, President & CEO, The Learning Partnership

Carl Corter, Professor, Institute of Child Study, OISE, University of Toronto

Paul Johnson, Chair, Hamilton Best Start Network

Thomas (Tim) Armstrong, BA, LLB, QC, O. Ont.

Hon. Landon Pearson, O.C.

Glen A. Jones, Ontario Research Chair, Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement, University of Toronto

Hon. John Godfrey

Mario Lajoie Director, Planning, Accountability, and Strategic Partnerships, Conseil des écoles catholiques de langue française du Centre-Est

Arthur Bielfeld, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emanu-El, Toronto

Zeenat Janmohamed, Coordinator, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, OISE

David Rivard, CEO, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto

Angela Foster, ECE Faculty, Georgian College

Margaret Hancock, Executive Director, Family Service Toronto

Mark Chamberlain, Chair of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty

Evan Wood, The Lawson Foundation

Eduarda Sousa, Executive Director, Association of Early Childhood Educators, Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (Ontario)

Fidelia Torres, Fellow, Council for Early Child Development

Mary Lou White, Manager, Children’s Services, County of Lanark

Peggy Taillon, President, Canadian Council on Social Development

Greg deGroot-Maggetti & Michael Creek, Co-chairs, 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction

Jane Bertrand, Chair, Best Start Early Years Panel on curriculum

Professor Rick Volpe, Institute of Child Study, OISE, University of Toronto

Janette Bax, District Child Care Manager, Children’s Services Division, District of Thunder Bay

Nigel Fisher – President & CEO UNICEF Canada

Peter A. Armstrong, President, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Atkinson Charitable Foundation.

Tracey Saarikoski, President, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

Carol Gott, Rural Voices for Early Childhood Education and Care

Linda Sibley, Executive Director, Addiction Services of Thames Valley

James R. Dunn, Ph.D, CIHR-PHAC Chair in Applied Public Health and Associate Professor, Department of Health, Aging & Society, McMaster University

Andrea E Feller, MD MS FAAP, Associate Medical Officer of Health, Niagara Region Public Health

Dr. Pat Dickinson, Program Director Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies Program

Charles Sturt University

Ross L. Fair General Manager of Community Services City of London

Lynne Livingstone Director, Neighbourhood and Children’s Services Community Services Department City of London

Marsha Millar, Director Children’s Services, Municipality of Chatham-Kent

Hon. Doug Peters

Lynn Bue, 2nd National Vice President Canadian Union Postal Workers

Suzanne Gagnon, Manager/Gestionnaire, Social Services Centre – East, Ottawa

Professor Becky Xi Chen, Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, OISE, University of Toronto

Tam Goossen & Winnie Ng, Co-Chairs, Good Jobs For All Coalition

Sue Norden, RECE, Director of Child Care Services Public Health, Safety and Social Services, Corporation of the City of Brantford

Brian F.C. Smith President & C.E.O. WoodGreen Community Services

Joanne MacEwan, Chair, Parent Involvement Committee/Catholic School Parents’ Association Ottawa Catholic School Board

Romona McLennon, Best Start Coordinator, Community Child Services, Sault Ste. Marie

Amy Ruttan, Best Start Coordinator, Childcare Programs, Community & Family Services, Kingston

Anne Biscaro R.N., B.Sc.N., M.Sc.N, Director, Family Health Division, Niagara Region

Dr. David Colby, Medical Officer of Health (A), Chatham-Kent

Lucy Brown, Chair, Chatham- Kent/Lambton Best Start Steering Committee

Aimee Wolanski, Ed.D, Peel District School Board

Tammy Adkin, Executive Director, London Regional Children’s Museum

Deena Ladd, Worker’s Action Centre

Nancy Brinbaum, President, Invest In Kids

Michelle Hurtubise, Executive Director, London InterCommunity Health Centre

Jehad Aliweiwi, Executive Director, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office

Bonnie Rikkonen, ECE Coordinator, Confederation College. Thunder Bay

Kim Jackson Chair, Timiskaming Best Start Network

Rhonda Roffey, Executive Director, Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke

Corinne Wolsey, President, Ontario Federation of Home School Association

Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Dr. Patrizia Albanese, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University

Rev. Dr. Jim Sinclair, retired, The United Church of Canada

National Alliance for Children and Youth

Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care

Jacquie Maund, Coordinator, Ontario Campaign 2000, Family Service Toronto

Mary Marrone, Director of Advocacy & Legal Services, Income Security Advocacy Centre

Christine Alden, Ontario Coordinator, Council for Early Child Development

Ray DeV. Peters, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Queen’s University

Dr. Donna S. Lero, Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work, University of Guelph

Gail Hunter, George Brown College, School of Early Childhood

Laurel Rothman, National Campaign Coordinator, Campaign 2000

Dr. Gordon Cleveland, Economist, University of Toronto Scarborough

Sue Colley, Executive Director, Building Blocks for Child Care

Mary-Louise Vanderlee, Ed.D. Faculty of Education, Brock University

Professor Fred Lazar, Schulich School of Business, York University

Dr. Rachel Berman, School of Early Childhood Education/MA program in Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University

Susannah Varmuza, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair Undergraduate Studies, Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto

Janet Astington, Professor, Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto

Janette Pelletier, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Human Development and Applied Psychology, Institute of Child Study, OISE, University of Toronto

Michael R. Peterson, B.GS, LL.B

Jane van Berkel, Executive Director, Child Development Resource Connection

Jan Blaxall, Parent, Early Childhood Educator, Fanshawe College

Lori Gray, Early Years Coordinator/Toronto First Duty, Bruce Woodgreen Early Learning Centre

Sylvain Guilbeault, Executive Director, Centre pour enfants, Timiskaming Child Care

Karen Chandler, Professor, Centre for Early Childhood Development, Ryerson Campus

Ailene Wittstein, Executive Director, Merrymount Children’s Centre

Elaine Levy, Woodgreen Community Service

Gaby Chauvet ,Heritage Home Child Care

Kelly Massaro-Joblin, School House Playcare Centre

Tammy McCormick Ferguson, Early Childhood Community Development Centre, Niagara

Arlene Perly-Rae

Dr Diane Kashin, Seneca College

Lee Quann RECE-ECEC, Resource Consultant

Carol Leishman Child Care Manager District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board

Colleen Brady RECE, ECEC. B.A., Professor Early Childhood Education Program, Sault College of Applied Arts and Technology

Lori Cranson, Associate Dean Community Services & Health Sciences, St. James Campus

Ruby Moayer, Manager Child and Family Services, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Offices

Leslie Corbet, professor, Early Childhood Education, Sheridan College

Leslie Kopf-Johnson, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Algonquin College

Ellis Katsof, NCYS Sandra Christie, Faculty Member, Fanshawe College

Janet Gasparini, Executive Director, Social Planning Council of Sudbury

Kim Hiscott, Executive Director Andrew Fleck Child Care Services

Francesca Dobbin, Director of Family Programs and Services, University of Toronto

Maria Ciampini, Ph.D. Professor, Center for Early Childhood Development, George Brown College

Connie Winder, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College

Prof. Linda White, Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto.

Marie Goulet, Best Start Early Learning Panel Member

Barb Pimento, Professor and Coordinator, George Brown College

Karima du Tloit, Fanshawe College

Glory Ressler, Community Development & Projects Manager, Early Childhood Community Development Centre, Niagara Region

John Hoffman, Communications Coordinator, Father Involvement Research Alliance, Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine

Cindy McCarthy, Director, Terry Tan Child Centre

John Campey, Executive Director, Social Planning Toronto

Maxine Brown, ECE Professor, Ryerson University

Andrea Endicott, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

Barbara Ledger, Professor, Early Childhood Education, Sheridan College

Rumjana Dimitrova – Community Worker

Sonia Worotynec,

John Liss LL.B.

Sandra Robinson, Executive Director, Trent Child Care Inc.

Jacqui Strachan, School Council Chair, Monarch Park Collegiate

Marnie Bernstein, Ontario Early Years Centre, Scarborough Centre

Pam Belli, Professor, ECE, Loyalist College, Belleville

Magdalena Janus, Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University

South Riverdale Child Parent Centre

Family Supports Institute Ontario