The Ford Government has recently announced their plans to implement a plethora of changes to the Ontario education system, creating protests and push back from both students and teachers across the province.
SaultOnline reached out to the local school boards and both the Algoma District Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario and the Labour Council for reaction.
Here’s what we have so far:
The Board does not know yet if any teachers will be laid off next year. Our staffing process differs from other boards. We have not yet received any budget information and so have not begun our staffing process.
– Jim Fitzpatrick, Communications Officer for Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board
“We’re kind of dismayed and shocked at the announcements made by the government,” Lee Mason, President of Algoma Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario told SaultOnline. “Raising the class size caps dramatically in secondary and a little bit in elementary really has a huge impact on our classrooms.”
“As has been happening to some degree already, small, isolated northern school have been getting a great instance of split or multiple grades in a school. Our members care passionately about their schools and are already stretched to met the needs of the classes. Increase is caps would make this problem even worse. In a recent poll ETFO conducted, 67 per cent on Ontarians supported smaller caps in grades 4-8. In smaller more remote areas it is not feasible to bus kids to create larger classes, but in larger rural or urban areas, it could definitely be a solution that Boards may choose.”
Mason said they’ve already started their endeavour to push back against these policies, attending a rally in Toronto on Saturday,
which included all of the elementary, secondary and all the other stakeholder affiliates like CUPE and OCETA and all the other teaching groups.
“(The rally) was kind of a step in the direction to fight back or push back against the cuts that are very damaging and devastating to our students and our communities, especially here in the North,” Mason said. “So that was kind of the beginning of what’s going on.”
Mason went on to say that the information coming out of the government in regards to larger class sizes building resilience or building “anything close to having good educational value.”
“We have a great education system in Ontario – we’re world renowned and known all across Canada and the world as having high standards – and the information that’s coming out of the government isn’t quite accurate as far as (saying) we’re not held in high esteem,” he said.
“Grade 4-8 already have highest class averages of any of the elementary kids in the panel – there is no cap on those classes, there is a board average, but unlike the primaries which have direct classroom caps. So the Grade 4-8 classrooms are already quite large in numbers and are comparable to classes around the other provinces in Canada.
“So I think what we’re looking at doing is getting some of the information out there, getting the proper information out there and the correct information out there. All of the studies and that show that smaller classrooms, more one-on-one work with teachers and with support staff is a better value for money and for students to learn and to be able to develop and grow. So, like I said, we’re quite dissappointed in the announcements and we’re hoping that it’s something that we can work together with, and if not, we will have to, as we’ve always done, is do what feel needs to be best done to support the needs of our students.”
The Algoma District School Board and Sault Ste. Marie Labour Council haven’t commented, at the time of publication of this article.
Stay tuned for more.