Ontario Government Announces A Plan To Keep Students In Class

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Government Plan Freezes Classroom Sizes, Invests in Special Education, and Holds the Line on Wages and Benefits

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, today confirmed the Government has made additional, reasonable proposals at the negotiating table to fight for the priorities of students and parents, with a single focus on ending this impasse.

During the negotiation process, the Government tabled proposals with each of the teacher unions, which included substantive moves on lower than proposed but not lower than on the ground class sizes, support for students’ unique learning needs, full-day kindergarten, as well as reasonable proposals on merit-based hiring and compensation.

Despite these consistently reasonable moves, the teachers’ unions continue to reject the Government’s student-centric proposals while simultaneously focusing on significant increases in compensation, particularly enriching generous benefits schemes.

Today, the Government is announcing the most recent proposal put forward to all teacher unions, with a focus on getting a deal:

A commitment to a funded maximum average class size of 23 in secondary schools – leaving them essentially the same as 2019-2020;

Replace the previous Local Priorities Fund with a new, student-centric Supports for Students Fund, which allows boards more flexibility to address students’ unique learning needs, including special education, mental health, and STEM education;

The Supports for Students Fund would continue at the same funding amount of the Local Priorities Fund.

A commitment to maintain full-day kindergarten; and

Reasonable increases in wages and compensation.

The Government is also announcing a policy to give parents the ability to opt their children out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation.

The Government is calling on the unions to cancel future strikes during this period to allow for good faith bargaining. Moreover, the Government continues to make the case for the advancement of merit-based hiring.

“The time to end this is now. Parents are frustrated, students are losing educational days, and teachers are uncertain about their future,” said Minister Lecce. “I am asking the teachers’ unions to return to the table, in light of this reasonable offer, to reach the agreement parents want, and students deserve.”

These proposals demonstrate the Government’s commitment to getting students back in the classroom, investing in our students’ potential while supporting the school boards’ planning processes.

“This is a balanced plan that reflects the priorities of students and parents, maintaining class sizes, investing in students’ unique learning needs, and holds the line on the reasonable increase in wages and compensation we are offering.”

“If the unions reject this most recent, student-centric offer, parents should rightly be asking what exactly are the priorities of the unions,” concluded Minister Lecce.

  • The Government’s plan includes no changes to class size for our youngest learners in Junior Kindergarten through grade 3. There are no changes to class size for students in grades 4 to 8. Provincial funding, and legislated class size restrictions, would change for grades 9-12 to reflect an average class size of 23. This is effectively the same as 2019-20.
  • The Ministry of Education provides the framework, funding, and flexibility needed to support school boards in meeting class size requirements for all grades across the province. Local school boards are responsible for class organization.
  • The Ministry of Education will continue to move forward on a made-in-Ontario online learning program that will ensure student flexibility, technological literacy and a wide selection of courses. By expanding and modernizing online learning, students will have greater flexibility, more choice, and will graduate with the skills needed to enter the workforce.
  • The Ministry of Education understands that parents know best how their children can adapt and learn through online courses, by giving parents the option to opt out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation. As students prepare to enter Grade 11 and 12, parents will have the opportunity to engage with their child’s guidance counsellor to determine whether online learning is appropriate and beneficial for their child.
  • The Supports for Students Fund will provide a total of $148 million, an amount equivalent to the remaining amount of the previously negotiated Local Priorities Fund, in the last round of bargaining.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is important to note that 23 is still an increase in class size. At the high school level, each teacher lost represents a loss of 6 classes. Also, e-learning is still mandatory – this change will require parents to opt out. The details of this are unclear – does it mean taking time off work to visit the school and speak with a guidance counsellor? Students already have access to technology in their classroom and to on-line learning options for credits at the high school. This could always be enhanced but to mandate two credits for every high school is unreasonable. Far from being a solution to the current strife, this communication sews misinformation and confusion amongst the public. The government continues to ignore information from the consultation of parents indicating that they were opposed to increases in class sizes and mandatory e-learning. Courses are currently being cancelled in TLDSB as a result of this increase in class size – it is much more than 1 additional student in a class.

  2. A twist to “mental health of students”…has anyone considered the high rate of Mental Illnesses, (especially in high schools) could be related to TECHNOLOGY in the classrooms?
    Electro magnetic fields are affected by the ever increasing amount of wifi; e-learning, computers, laptops
    cell phones etc. Some people are more sensitive to the ever changing EMFs than others.
    Have the school boards (across the Province) ever taken the time or spent the energy investigating the levels
    in the schools. Rather than blaming its just “being a teen” or “puberty”, how about looking at
    the environment, both inside and outside the school system.

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