The ‘confidential’ government document shows Doug Ford’s push for more e-learning is part of an agenda to make cuts to education
Documents obtained by the Toronto Star show Doug Ford’s government is planning successive cuts to Ontario school boards into 2023.
Notably, the documents show Ford’s government wants to replace human teachers with computers, suggesting Ontario will be “progressively increasing” e-learning enrolment targets for “cost saving and revenue generation.”
The document also outlines one idea to let teenagers obtain high school diplomas “entirely online” by 2024.
According to the Toronto Star:
“A ‘confidential’ government document obtained by the Star shows Premier Doug Ford’s government considered keeping online learning optional until 2024 and planned to slash school board funding while creating courses to sell to other jurisdictions at a profit …
Marked “not for distribution,” the six-page document also envisioned allowing students to get high school diplomas “entirely online” starting in September 2024 …”
The Star reports the plan calls for $34.8 million less funding for school boards starting September 2020, $55.8 million in 2021, $56.7 million in 2022 and $57.4 million in 2023-2024.
Following that, it projects “continued cost saving of $57.4 million annually with full catalogue of online ‘gold standard’ courses.”
It further reads: “School boards will be required to meet progressively increasing minimum targets for student enrolment in online learning courses.”
To generate revenue, the Star reports, the document suggests the province “market” the opposed online Ontario curriculum to out of province students and examine the feasibility of “selling licensing rights.”
What the government says: The Ministry of education didn’t dispute the existence of the document.
But it did claim it plans on having Ontario teachers run the mandated online courses “with no plans to privatize them.”
How teachers reacted: “To me it looks like someone is looking at this to save money, not to do what real kids actually need,” said Harvey Bischoff, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.
Bischoff added that the idea of letting students obtain diplomas “entirely online” is especially “weird.”
Ford government’s credibility is crumbing: The story is particularly damaging to the Ford government because they have repeatedly insisted their move to mandatory e-learning was exclusively designed to help students — not cut costs.
— PressProgress (@pressprogress) December 4, 2019
As PressProgress reported previously, PwC also emailed high school guidance councillors last spring asking them to answer questions pertaining to how students select courses “on behalf of a client.”
The ministry responded more details on this were to be released last Fall.