Ted at the Social Planning Council of Ontario and GANIS circulated a report from the Ontarioâ€™s urban and suburban schools 2008: a discussion paper on the schools we need in the 21st century produced by People for Education this morning.
They are a parent led organization, their reports can be downloaded for free, their researcher is paid for by Canadian Council on Learning and the Atkinson Foundation and their research is done in collaboration with universities on special research projects. They also collect school data in by way of a survey starting in 1997. They are a charitable organization with the following mission:
Public education is the foundation of a civil society. People for Education is dedicated to the ideal of a fully publicly-funded education system that guarantees every child access to the education that meets his or her needs.
We work toward this ideal by:
providing clear, accessible information to the public;
engaging people to become actively involved in education issues in their own community.
It is precisely this kind of stakeholder led civil society group that acts a kind of third party observer on a massive government expenditure, in this case Ontario public education, that requires access to free public data. Whether or not we philosophically agree on the merits of school evaluation, benchmarking, universal delivery of the same curriculum or the direction their research is not the point, the fact that there is a parent / stakeholder led organization looking at the issue of education at a large scale and also looking at some interesting education models at the small scale is useful in a democracy and ensures some sort of accountability.
They also sell research and data services which is a way to rationalize the workplan of their researcher:
We have a rich data base of information. We are able to provide research data or results for a fee. Elementary school data has been collected since 1997, and secondary school data has been collected since 2000.
Our research is sited and used by Statistics Canada, the Auditor General, the Globe, the Toronto Star and others.