The State of the System: A Reality Check on Canada’s Schools

A provocative and revealing analysis of Kindergarten to Grade 12 education that will serve as a catalyst for lively public policy debate and discussion.

Tackling the thorny issues besetting contemporary Canadian provincial school systems, The State of the System issues a clarion call for more responsive, engaged and accountable public schools.

Praise for The State of the System


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Turning Points: 15 Pivotal Moments in Nova Scotia's History

Decisive moments and pivotal events have shaped Nova Scotia’s destiny and helped to define the province which has exerted so much influence throughout the Maritimes. Since the time of Confederation, the province evolved from British North Atlantic colony to a founding province, then from an often overlooked ‘poor cousin’ to a more self-confident embodiment of Maritime life.

Fifteen critical episodes, or turning points, are brought back to life, including the ‘Botheration Scheme’ of Confederation, wartime Atlantic defense challenges, the ‘Maritime Rights’ movement, the Springhill mining disaster, Viola Desmond’s stand against racism, the tragic razing of Africville, Ray Ivany’s ‘Now or Never’ report, and the Edward Cornwallis statue controversy. Each episode, in its own way, helped forge the province’s identity, change its trajectory, catapult it upon the national stage, teach a few bigger lessons, or shape its collective sense of purpose.

The Last Stand: Schools, Communities and the Future of Rural Nova Scotia

The hour is late and the clock is ticking for rural and small town communities in Nova Scotia.  School closures capture the news headlines, but they signal a more profound development: the gradual, yet relentless, decline in rural populations, and a demographic shift that threatens to extinguish what remains of rural communities in Nova Scotia.  In The Last Stand, Paul W. Bennett responds to the looming crisis with a new, more accountable, efficient, and sustainable model of public schooling.

It is time to revitalize rural Nova Scotian communities by reversing the dominant trend toward centralized, bureaucratic school systems.  Schools must be transformed, once again, into vital community hubs. Suspending the divisive School Review process will accomplish little, Bennett demonstrates, unless it leads to building smaller community schools, supporting innovative local enterprises, modelling sustainable living practices and providing community-based education on a more human scale.

Vanishing Schools, Threatened Communities: The Contested Schoolhouse in Maritime Canada, 1850 to 2010

Traditional schoolhouses and neighbourhood schools are disappearing at an alarming rate, making way for 'big box' schools that serve multiple communities and adhere to the logic of modernization, centralization and uniformity. InVanishing Schools, Threatened Communitiesauthor Paul W. Bennett explores the phenomenon of school closures, focusing on Maritime Canada from 1850 until the present day.

Here is a lively, stimulating book that examines the rise of common schooling from local, one-room schoolhouses that encouraged local democratic control through to the rise of "super-sized" schools governed by a vast bureaucracy that silences public participation. Though the public has not always remained silent, local 'save our schools' movements have not succeeded in halting the march of 'progress.'

Bennett sets out, in this colourful history of schools, to remind us of the principles that formed the basis of the public education system, and urges us to return to these principles in order to better serve the needs of our children and our communities.

The Grammar School: Striving for Excellence in a Public School World

The fascinating story of Canada’s only “Grammar School” is told for the first time in a new book written by Paul W. Bennett and published by Formac Publishing of Halifax. Entitled The Grammar School: Striving for Excellence in a Public School World, the book provides a rare look at the Halifax Grammar School’s titanic early struggle for survival and how its fate ebbed and flowed with changes in the Nova Scotia public education system.

Here’s a book for educators and anyone interested in the ongoing debate over the state of education.

It was published in two editions, paperback and hardcover.