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FORUM: Taking a stand against Ford’s cuts to education (May 2019)

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments

MPP decries slashing of school budgets province-wide

By Jessica Bell, MPP (University—Rosedale) 

Every child in Ontario deserves a quality public school education. 

Great public schools have reasonable class sizes so teachers can help every student. Great schools are properly maintained so they are safe and healthy places to work, learn, and play. Great schools have a curriculum that is academically rigorous, encourages critical thinking, and honours diversity. Great schools are those that have support available, including additional teachers, educational assistants, and social workers, to meet the needs of all students.

I’ve spoken to parents, students, and educators and we agree: cutting the budget on the backs of children is wrong

Premier Doug Ford isn’t working to build up our cherished public school system. Instead, he’s tearing it down by slashing the funding and support that our children need to be able to learn.  

The Ford government is directing school boards to cut more than $1 billion from Ontario classrooms. Their plan includes raising caps on class sizes starting in Grade 4. The 2019 Ontario budget confirmed that education funding won’t keep up with inflation, much less need. School boards are warning that this will mean class sizes of up to 46 students, with fewer available courses and support for students.  

All of this means that up to 10,000 teacher and educator jobs will be cut, leaving students in crowded classrooms where they can’t get the attention they need. Layoffs have already started: this year, surplus notices for high school teachers in Toronto quadrupled.  

Adding insult to injury, the Ford Conservatives have slashed $100 million from school repairs. This comes at a time when our chronically underfunded schools need $16 billion in basic repairs. Central Technical School at Harbord and Bathurst, for example, has nearly 30 repairs deemed critically urgent in its backlog – everything from replacing windows to elevator maintenance and roof repair. Many of these are crucial to ensure our children’s safety. Clinton Street Junior Public School, which has a serious Facility Condition Index of 70%, is in urgent need of renewed fire alarm systems. These are investments that cannot be ignored. 

The Ford Government has also cancelled therapy and supports for children with autism. Starting April 1, more children with autism will be entering the public school system. Many parents are terrified about their children’s safety and learning. School boards have not been provided with any support, funding, or information from the Ministry of Education to ensure a smooth transition for all.

In the face of all this destruction, we are taking a stand for our education system. Earlier this month, more than 100,000 students from over 700 schools across Ontario organized the largest student protest in Canadian history in response to Doug Ford’s education proposals. I joined students at Harbord Collegiate and Rosedale School of the Arts, and was inspired by the passion, leadership, and commitment of young people in our community who are demanding more educational opportunities. 

Only days later, I saw 10,000 people come together at Queen’s Park to rally for high quality public education and against Ford’s callous cuts. 

I’ve spoken to parents, students, and educators throughout University—Rosedale, and we agree: cutting the budget on the backs of children is wrong. That’s why I’m glad that Ontario’s NDP supports investing in our children and in their future – not taking opportunities away from them. 

I want to hear your thoughts on how Ford’s education cuts will impact you and your family. You can call my Community Office at 416-535-7206 or drop by at 719 Bloor St. W., Unit 103. I also encourage you to sign our petition, which you can download and print, or sign electronically at: https://www.jessicabellmpp.ca/petitions.

Families in our community know what’s at stake. We know that kids deserve more help from their government, not less. That means more access to teachers, more educational opportunities, and more chances to learn and thrive. 

Let’s work together and give our children the quality public education they deserve.

Jessica Bell is Member of Provinical Parliament for University-Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Columns · Opinion