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Annual Report on Ontario’s Public Schools 2009

August 21, 200921 August 2009

Arts education

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This report, based largely on a survey of 1,123 elementary and secondary schools (representing 23% of the province’s schools), provides a wide range of statistics on Ontario’s schools, including information about libraries, reading and the arts.

The report indicates that “there is no funding specifically dedicated to the arts in schools.” On average, schools receive funding for two full-time specialist teachers. This funding is used for various types of teachers, including French, literacy, music, physical education, guidance and other specialists. The survey of schools indicates that 46% of elementary schools have a music teacher (whether part-time or full-time), down from 58% in 1997/98. Fewer northern and rural schools have music teachers.

Many secondary schools charge fees for arts classes: 54% charge fees for visual arts classes, while 23% charge fees for music classes. The report concludes that “students’ access to arts programs depends, for the most part, on the size of their school, the ability of their parents to fundraise, and in secondary school, the flexibility of students’ schedules and their capacity to pay fees.”

Regarding school libraries and reading, the report indicates that 55% of elementary schools have a part-time or full-time teacher-librarian. This is a substantial decrease from 1997/98, when 80% of elementary schools had a teacher-librarian. Few small and northern schools have a teacher-librarian. “Because funding for librarians is provided on a per pupil basis (funding for one teacher-librarian for every 764 elementary students and every 909 secondary students), smaller schools are much less likely to have teacher-librarians.”

On tests administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office, there has been a decrease in the percentage of students who say that they like to read. The percentage of Grade 3 students who indicated that they like to read decreased from 68% in 2002 to 59% in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of Grade 6 students who indicated that they like to read decreased from 55% in 2002 to 49% in 2008.

The report argues that school libraries can “act as learning hubs”, while reading at a young age can be important for civic engagement and later economic success.

According to the report, schools in Ontario raised nearly $600 million in 2007/08 for a range of activities, including sports, libraries and arts programs. “Parents and students fundraise for music programs in 35% of elementary and secondary schools and for general arts-related programs in 37% of schools.”

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