Ontario school boards have been represented at the Federal level through membership in the Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) since 1923. Since its inception in 1988 OPSBA has maintained its CSBA membership. The CSBA members are provincial school boards associations. Today, the CSBA members represent just over 250 school boards serving more than three million elementary and secondary school students. The CSBA advocates excellence for each and every student and promotes the value of locally elected school boards. CSBA maximizes efforts through provincial, national and international collaboration, research, information sharing, strategic partnerships and actions.
While Canada's constitution places education within provincial jurisdictions, there are many issues pertinent to education that either arise at the federal level or take on a national perspective when they become a matter of priority in every province. In these areas, the Canadian School Boards Association gives its members a national voice and a place at the table when matters that are pan-Canadian in their import are under discussion. Membership in our national association provides opportunities for influence beyond what an individual provincial association may be able to accomplish on its own.
The work of CSBA is structured within a highly collaborative framework with individual member associations taking the lead on specific initiatives for the benefit of all members. This is identified in the initiatives described in the report that follows.
Building relationships is a pillar of the CSBA advocacy strategy. CSBA has worked to build a healthy and open relationship with the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) and regularly shares information and policy priorities with CMEC. CSBA National Office and the CMEC Secretariat relationship is a mirror of the relationships that provincial school board associations build with their provincial Ministry of Education.
The CSBA enjoys excellent relations with the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, as well as engaging in open dialogue with such organisations as the Canadian Teachers Federation, Canadian Parents for French, and the Canadian Association of School Administrators.
CSBA is able to provide cost-effective research and information through its association with such organisations as the Society for the Advancement of Excellence in Education, Statistics Canada, Anaphylaxis Canada, the Conference Board of Canada, and the Centre for Excellence in Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence (PREVNet). One recent example of excellent research is the study, First National Climate Survey on Homophobia in Canadian Schools, undertaken by staff at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. This study surveyed Canadian high school students to identify the forms and extent of their experiences of homophobic incidents at school and measures being taken by schools to combat this common form of bullying. The report offers recommendations on safe schools policy development at the ministerial, district and school levels.
In concert with the Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Council of Ministers of Education, OPSBA has continued its lobbying efforts on Copyright issues to advocate for fair arrangements that will support the needs of students and teachers in our classrooms. We join as well with CSBA in furthering our goals in areas such as the provincial implications of the federal budget, relief on GST, challenges for education in rural areas, the effects of declining enrolment, support for the settlement needs of newcomer students, improving education outcomes for aboriginal children and youth and strengthening the role of school trustees.