The Ontario Government’s Public Education Changes as they Relate to Students and Schools in Kanata-Carleton

Published on August 27, 2019

Updated Facts on the Ontario Government's Public Education Changes 

August 27, 2019 OTTAWA – This is an updated notice from MPP Fullerton in response to public comments made concerning the Ontario Government’s new education reform plan and the changes being made to the K-12 public education system. The original statement was issued May 30, 2019 - found here

 

I look forward to discussing education issues with residents and getting the facts out in the public domain so that Kanata-Carleton residents can make informed decisions about our Government’s plans to improve Ontario’s K-12 education sector.

The Ontario Government is making measured and responsible changes to the Province’s public education system, with the best interests of Ontario students in mind. It has been clear about the commitment towards investing in education and students in a way that is focused on student achievement and well-being. The Province is moving forward with continued and ongoing consultations with our labour and education partners. The plan is designed to serve the best interests of Ontario’s students in a way that works for families and school boards and is fair to our educators.

 

1) Increasing Investment in Education 

The Ontario Government will be investing over $700 million more in education this year over last year. This includes over $90 million more for special education (for a total of over $3 billion), and $92 million more for student transportation.

The Ontario Government is also investing $1.4 billion this year to repair and renew schools across the Province, and $13 billion over the next 10 years to build new schools in high-growth areas, and to improve our existing schools.

So, this year the Ontario Government is increasing payments for education. 

The Minister of Education’s Task Force on School Boards will also work to ensure that the funding provided goes to classrooms, not bureaucracy and administration. Every dollar spent in education needs to be focused on maximizing value for student achievement in the classroom.

 

2) Protecting Teachers 

The Ontario Government is not firing teachers. Layoff notices are an annual occurrence during the local school boards’ budget planning process, in line with deadlines established in local collective agreements. Staff are then recalled as funding and enrolment projections are analyzed by board administrators.

Although it is not the case in the City of Ottawa, across the Province the hard reality is that student enrollment numbers continue to decrease, which makes it difficult to maintain current teacher levels, especially when many schools are already well below capacity. However, the Government is committed to providing $1.6 billion in new attrition protection funding to ensure that not a single teacher in Ontario loses their job due to our proposed changes on class sizes and e-learning.

 

3) Adjusting Class Sizes 

Class sizes are not growing significantly – and there are additional elementary and French language teachers being hired to ensure our youngest students see no increase in class size. Here are the changes:

  • Students from junior kindergarten to grade 3 see no changes to class size
  • Students in grade 4-8 may see one extra student per class
  • High school students will see a slight increase from 22 to an average of 22.5 students per class, province-wide

Class size organization, course offerings, and staffing decisions have been, and will continue to be made by our local school boards, based on enrolment and student demand. In some places in Ontario, the school boards have chosen to miscast their staffing decisions as having been forced by “cuts” made at the provincial level. But again, there are no province-wide cuts – and in Ottawa there have been increases with our local boards of education.  

 

4) Revamping curriculum 

To this point, the Ontario Government has undertaken the largest education curriculum consultation in the province’s history. Improving our curriculum is aimed at helping achieve better student outcomes. A revamped STEM curriculum, alongside new mandatory financial literacy and mental health studies, will help better prepare our students for the challenges they will face in our rapidly changing world.

Last week the Government also announced an enhanced Health and Physical Education curriculum for Grades 1-8. The new curriculum provides young students with the skills and knowledge they need to lead safe, healthy, and active lives. It teaches:

  • Mental Health, including Social-Emotional Learning Skills
  • Concussions
  • The effects and consequences of vaping and cannabis
  • Cyber safety, including bullying prevention and digital privacy
  • Healthy eating and body image
  • Healthy relationships, including consent

This curriculum has been revised to be taught at an age-appropriate level. The Government has also made available online a parent-friendly resource on what children will learn in each grade.

Again, I look forward to discussing education issues with Kanata-Carleton residents.

 

Media Contact for Merrilee Fullerton, MPP:

Tiffany Lepack                           613-599-3000

Constituency Assistant            merrilee.fullerton@pc.ola.org