Last week, the Ministry of Education announced a series of cuts to education that demonstrate the blatant dishonesty of the Conservatives’ narrative on education. Their changes will have a direct impact on quality of students’ education, as well as the working conditions and safety of teachers and support staff.
Cuts are disguised and packaged as being in the interest of modernization, while dramatically increasing class sizes for intermediate and high school and cutting over $300 million in available funds. Alarm bells have already been raised by education unions that the massive changes will result in more than 5000 fewer jobs province-wide and interfere with collective agreements and future bargaining. Parents and teachers who came of age during the Harris-era education battles already recognize this story.
“This government has nothing but contempt for the role of teachers and support staff in creating an effective and safe learning environment for Ontario’s kids,” said John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. “The skilled professionals in our schools have already shown us that, with reasonable class sizes and more one-on-one face time, students thrive.”
Under the current standards, Ontario has produced some of the best education outcomes in the world, with a high school graduation rate of over 86 percent, up from 68 percent in 2003 according to recent numbers released by the Ministry of Education. This is no accident: teachers and support staff have consistently advocated for lower class size averages because they know it is in the best interest of their students.
“This government is lying to Ontarians when they say that ‘no jobs will be lost’ as a result of these cuts,” said Cartwright. “Whether it is through changes to required course delivery or through budget attrition, our school boards and our education unions are telling us that hundreds of jobs are on the chopping block. These cuts are deep and will be felt keenly and immediately. They must be stopped.”