Skip to main content

High-school students said in a recent survey that cellphones have limited educational value in the classroom.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Being called out-of-touch by a scornful teenager is a fundamental part of parenting, so it was probably only a matter of time for Premier Dad.

Dalton McGuinty's policies and political positions don't really jibe with popular student opinion according to a new survey, the first of its kind, conducted by the Ontario Student Trustees' Association. They disagree on issues including cellphone use in the classroom and sexual education.

Students should be playing a larger role in shaping educational policy, said Zane Schwartz, the student trustee who led the survey project.

"Students are always going to be the ones that experience [policy]decisions, and I think that puts us in a unique position to report back on what's working and what isn't working."

More than 2,600 students, mostly in Grade 12, responded to the survey that was circulated through Facebook and e-mail with the help of Scholarships Canada and Student Vote.

"Definitely the Premier is out of touch with students and I believe out of touch with a lot of people," said Elizabeth Witmer, the Conservative education critic.

A spokesperson for the Premier said that student opinion is important "as is that of parents and educators."

Members of the OSTA have requested a meeting to discuss the survey results with Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky, and Mr. Schwartz said they will extend an invitation to the premier as well.


Though he has banned them on Ontario roadways, Mr. McGuinty voiced support last fall for cellphones as tools for learning inside the classroom.

More than 72 per cent of students said they didn't think cellphones have a place in the classroom as an educational tool. The warmest reception toward the idea came from students at the Greater Essex County District School Board, which includes Windsor, where 38 per cent were in favour.


Premier Dad yanked an updated sexual education curriculum last spring after a handful of parent groups objected to references to homosexual intercourse and same-sex couples.

Students at both the Catholic and public school boards were overwhelmingly supportive of learning about sexual diversity. Nearly 82 per cent said information on all sexualities should be taught during sexual education classes.


In the lead up to the last provincial election, Mr. McGuinty made mandatory gym classes part of his platform, and he delivered in the form of 20 required minutes of activity in elementary school classrooms.

Maybe it's the infamy of rope climbing or the awkwardness of change rooms, but high school students aren't keen to have Mr. McGuinty expand his gym mandate. A small majority, 53 per cent, said they didn't feel physical education should be mandatory through the end of high school.


About 45 per cent said they'd been bullied in school. That number was highest at the Ottawa-Carleton Catholic District School Board where nearly 60 per cent of students reported being bullied.

Only a little more than 50 per cent said they felt they would benefit academically from a later start to the school day.

Mandatory gym classes were most popular among students at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, where 55 per cent approved of the idea, and least popular among students at the Thames Valley District School Board, which includes London, where only 35 per cent were in favour.

Nearly 89 per cent believe every high school and middle school should have a student council.

There is overwhelming interest from students to see their standardized tests once they've been marked: 92 per cent would like to review how they were scored on provincewide math and literacy tests.

Barely 28 per cent of students believe cellphones have a place in the classroom as an educational tool.

Interact with The Globe