Public Values

Public education allows kids to innovate new ways of building — and belonging to — community

Democratic principles like freedom of expression and independent thinking more valuable than what's on the curriculum.

Salutin: In harsh, unpredictable times, a knack for things like community & democracy may be crucialIn the last of a five-part series for the Toronto Star, Rick Salutin lists the merits of public education, starting with its ability to build democracy and community. Because they teach students to think for themselves rather than accept whatever they are told, public schools are equipped the best for forming involved citizens.

"Is there anything public schools do that no other form of education can?

Only this: Simply by being what they are, they can teach kids about the society they live in. That's because public schools must let everyone in. What's unique about public education isn't the education part, it's the 'public'. Other schools can tell kids about their society but they don't contain it and show it. At private school, kids can learn about the value of inclusiveness, but they're surrounded by others like themselves in key ways. In public schools the medium really is the message; the classroom is the curriculumÂ…"

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Saving public education: The series

It's called public education, but the "public" part has never been more under threat. Tighter budgets and growing demands mean changes are likely.

In a five-part series, writer Rick Salutin examines our public school system. Where is it succeeding and where does it fall short? What are the pitfalls — and possibilities — of mimicking trends elsewhere?

A grant from the Atkinson Charitable Foundation allowed Salutin to spend several months exploring these issues in Toronto, as well as travelling to Finland and Saskatchewan.

Posted: May 27, 2011

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