Letter: Our Education System Is In Crisis!

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letter to the editor

What is it going to take before the powers that be listen to what we have been saying for at least the past three years and do what is necessary to make our education system what it needs to be for our children?

“Between 1995-96, when the Harris government was first elected, and 1998-99, the first year of the new education funding formula, the Conservative government cut a total of $1.5 billion from education. In today’s dollars, that amount equals $2.2 billion”. Although the Liberal government has made some increases to education funding since then, the increased needs in the classroom have well surpassed the funding provided.

“When enrolment, inflation, the cost of new programs and the element of catch-up reflected in education system salaries and benefits are considered, education funding in 2017-2018 is roughly equivalent to the level recommended by the Rozanski Task Force Report on education funding in 2002. While that is a positive sign, it essentially reflects no progress at all in addressing the fundamental funding issues built into the base funding formula introduced for the 1998-99 school year”.

Those of us who work in the education sector will tell you, the schools of 2002 are not the schools of 2017-2018. The same issues we are seeing in society are magnified in the classroom. Increased numbers of those living in poverty, an increase in mental illness and addictions, an increase in the number of people living with autism, and so on.

The education funding formula and the ‘Tier System’ used by School Boards to determine which students ‘qualify’ for the support of a Special Ed. Assistant needs a complete overhaul. The reality is that a Special Ed. Assistant will be assigned one student who qualifies for support but then are also assigned 5 or 6 additional students who require support but do not meet the criteria for support. These students may have ADHD, learning disabilities, mental health issues, or simply have not yet developed the ability to control their impulses.

Many of our Special Education Assistants divide their day between multiple classrooms. Every minute of their day is scheduled to be supporting students. Coffee breaks and lunch breaks are often missed because there is not enough E.A. staff to cover for them. In some cases, students with special needs are left on their own for periods of time because there is nobody available to support them.

Many students, some with special needs and some without, are erupting violently because their needs are not being met. But violence in the classroom is just a symptom of the bigger issue: inadequate funding for Special Ed. Assistant staffing, inadequate funding for smaller class sizes, and inadequate funding for the professional development and specialized training of educators and support staff.

Vicky Evans,
President, CUPE Local 4148

Quotes on the funding formula were taken from the ETFO document titled ‘ETFO: 7 Recommendations to Fix Ontario’s Education Funding Formula’

4 COMMENTS

  1. E.A’s are a great part of many classrooms, with a very diverse workload, and important role. But 14 years of Liberal power in Ontario has left this province in dire needs. Blame should not be put on Harris government. Much like the next government to take office after Wynne, Harris was dealing with a bankrupted province after the Rae NDP government nightmare. To look for the current lack in todays schools, see what the 14 years running Liberals find money for and dont find money for. Wynne can pay a billion to close gas plants and 4 million for CEO’s of Hydro One, but leave our schools in need.

  2. Thank you, Vicky. Too few people remember the days of the “full-service school.” The school was a community: a second home for kids and staff alike. Whatever a kid needed, he/she got. No politics, no EQAO, no micromanaging administrators, and no mark entitlement. We made a huge difference both academically and socially because we were allowed to educate the whole child.

  3. CANADA is in huge trouble as long as the delusional liberals are in charge.
    It’s been nothing but a horrible nightmare since they took the reigns.
    Make sure you do your part in NOT ever voting for them again.

    • I might add that we should avoid the LIBERALS at BOTH the federal AND provincial levels. Education has taken a real hit. There are more needs for special ed than ever before but boards seem forced to thin out the help due to government budget cuts. We need to add many more “helpers” if we want students to become a contributing member of society.

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