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Analysis

Five Ways Doug Ford Has Worked Against Public Education

Five dangerous and dishonest ways Ford has worked against public education in Ontario

Ontario premier Doug Ford is facing resistance over his government’s proposed changes to the province’s public education system — yet education minister Stephen Lecce insists the government is only “trying to keep kids in class.”

To help clear that up, here is a short list of the Ford government’s five worst attacks on public education — so far.

1. Cutting per-pupil education funding (and lying about it)

Despite Minister Lecce’s claim that the government is spending more on education than any government previously, calculations show the government’s education spending per-pupil for 2019-20 is $54 lower than in 2018-19.

Further, the Financial Accountability Office noted while from 2013-18 education’s core “cost-drivers” rose 2.2% annually against 3.3% annual spending increases — the Ford government projects to slow spending increases to 1% annually, against 2.7% annual cost increases.

2. Planning to Axe 10,000 Teaching Jobs

According to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office, the Ford government’s proposed changes to school staffing will, over five years, reduce the number of teachers employed in the province by 10,054.

Doug Ford’s cuts to education will eliminate over 10,000 teacher jobs in Ontario schools, the legislature’s independent…

Posted by PressProgress on Thursday, September 26, 2019

3. Planning To Raise Elementary And Secondary Class Sizes

The Ford government also planned to increase average class sizes to 24.5 for grades 4-8 and to 28 for highschools.

The then-education remarked larger classes might be good for students “lacking resiliency.”

4. Touting Education “investments” While Cutting 6,000 Teaching Jobs 

During negotiations, the government softened its class size increase proposal in highschools to only 25 students per class, without altering its target for elementary schools.

Researchers soon noted that would still remove about 6,000 teaching positions from Ontario’s schools, over several years.

But the government still tried promote its “investment” in education its 2019 Fall Fiscal Review.

4. Burying Results Of Parent Consultations On Class Size Increases

On Nov. 5, Lecce acknowledged the government spent “just shy” of $1 million consulting parents about its changes to the public education, including its planned class size increases.

But, when asked what response the government received, the minister declined to comment. Lecce said only that releasing the data could “directly impinge our negotiating position” at the bargaining table.

According to a recent poll, only 11 per cent of Ontarians support larger class sizes.

5. Shoring Up Private Education Interests 

Private education companies have seen business opportunities in the Ford government’s public education overhaul.

For example, PressProgress reported, Blyth Education, a for-profit education company launched an advertising campaign to woo parents worried Ford’s cuts could cancel classes and harm students’ futures. And, Blyth isn’t alone.

Back in June, PwC circulated emails to school guidance counselors asking for advice on how students select courses. PwC told PressProgress the email was sent following Ford’s announcement that students would have to complete online classes, likely provided by private companies, to graduate.

Sources close to the Ford government’s parent consultations told media a majority of parents consulted opposed Ford’s online module mandate, as well.

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