Ontario’s proposals to “modernize the classroom” won’t drive the province’s education system forward—they’ll see it pushed further into the past.
In March of 2019, the Ford government released a plan for the Ontario education system that was shocking in the scale of its proposed cuts. The province ordered that class sizes be increased in elementary and high schools, and that each high school student take a minimum of four classes online.
Ford’s future plans threaten special education, the full-day kindergarten program, and the compensation for all educators, including occasional teachers, early childhood educators, and professional and educational supports.
According to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer, the provincial government’s plan will save the province approximately $2.8 billion over the next five years—at the expense of around 10,000 teaching jobs.
But modernizing classrooms isn’t an excuse for making wide-sweeping cuts to one of the province’s most vital functions. Education in Ontario needs greater care and investment, not less.
With 10,000 fewer teachers, students will be neglected the opportunities and attention they need to be successful.
Those missing teachers will diminish schools’ abilities to provide extra-curriculars, run extra help sessions, and teach a diverse range of electives outside mandatory courses, which all compose important parts of a well-rounded school system.
Cuts to education, particularly on such a large scale, fail to consider the role of teachers in the learning that takes place inside each and every Ontario elementary and secondary school.
Teachers pave the way for a brighter future through their education of up-and-coming generations. Depriving students of strong relationships with their educators by increasing class sizes and forcing students to learn from behind a screen does them—and our province—a disservice.
Teachers are responsible for more than just teaching curricula: they provide the invaluable support and encouragement students need to be successful. They’re role models, confidants, and coaches. They offer skills and opportunities that change lives.
By disadvantaging Ontario’s teachers, the Ford government is creating more problems than its plan will solve. Reducing the provincial budgetary deficit can’t come at the cost of our valued education system.
Every dollar that’s spent on education should be seen as an investment into Ontario, not a frivolous expense.
As teachers hit the picket lines this year to protest cuts to education, the Ontario government needs to know that the province’s residents support teachers and advocate for them. Education is an essential part of our province that can’t be compromised in the name of saving some extra funds.
Teachers are the core of our education system and our future, and government policies should reflect that.
Alina is The Journal’s Assistant Sports Editor. She’s a fourth-year English major.
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