- This is directly from the NDP Election platform
“We’ll overhaul the education funding formula starting with a comprehensive public review based on equity and quality.
We will work with parents, front-line educators, students, and educational experts to overhaul the education funding formula starting with a comprehensive public review based on two key principles: equity and quality.
A new funding formula will address violence in classrooms, curb class sizes and fund special education based on actual needs, not overall populations.”
WE DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BAD & WORSE!
BETTER SCHOOLS, BETTER EDUCATION – THE NDP PLATFORM ON EDUCATION
Education plays a huge role in shaping our opportunities. We’re committed to making sure a quality education is within everyone’s reach. But Liberal and Conservative governments have undermined the quality of education and put barriers in front of students. Crowded classrooms, inadequate support for kids with special needs, rigid testing and chronic under-funding have all made it harder for our kids to learn. And spiraling tuition fees saddle post-secondary students with huge debt loads. We can do better in Ontario. A quality education should be a natural part of growing up in our province.
Our Changes for the Better
- We will re-write the education funding formula
- We will hire more teachers and educational assistants
- We will cap kindergarten classroom sizes at 26 students
- We will invest $16 billion to repair crumbling schools
- We will end EQAO testing
- We will fix the rules around education development charges so they can fund the new schools families need
- We will ensure schools teach inclusive history, including Indigenous history, the history of Black Ontarians, our province’s history with the Underground Railroad, and Caribbean and African experiences
Fixing Our Public Schools
Too many kids are going to school in buildings without proper heat or cooling, with leaky roofs or stairways overdue for repair. After years of Conservative and Liberal governments neglecting schools, the backlog of needed repairs has reached $15 billion.
But the problems go a lot deeper. Ontario funds public education based on a system developed by former Conservative premier Mike Harris. He didn’t believe in strengthening public education — and the funding formula reflects that.
And years more of cuts and freezes by the Liberals and Conservatives have forced school boards to use special-education money just to keep schools safe and functioning. Children with special needs often have to cope with limited resources and years of being shuffled between wait lists.
Chronic under-funding has also led to increased classroom violence, putting teachers, students and education workers at risk.
With kindergarten classrooms having no cap on class size (just a limit on the “average class size” across the entire school board), those classes are sometimes huge — and often understaffed. Some classrooms have 30 children; others have no teaching assistants.
Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) testing has meant teachers and students spend far too much time preparing for a single test, instead of learning material more deeply.
The under-funding has been widespread enough that, since 2011, the Liberal government has closed 270 schools and put another 300 schools on the chopping block — schools that were an essential part of their communities.
We need a provincial government that understands the real value of a school — and of the rich, rewarding education that a well-funded public school classroom can offer to our kids.
Our Change for the Better
Andrea Horwath and the NDP will fund schools properly.
We will work with parents, front-line educators, students, and educational experts to overhaul the education funding formula starting with a comprehensive public review based on two key principles: equity and quality.
A new funding formula will address violence in classrooms, and will mean boards, teachers, and education workers have the resources they need to ensure the well-being and safety of all learners, and all educators.
It will allow us to curb class sizes and support our most vulnerable students, an important step in making classroom environments safer and more conducive to learning.
The first-hand experience of parents, teachers and education workers will play a major role in shaping the new model, and we will take into account factors that affect rural and remote schools, such as school transportation. School boards will be receiving funding under the fully-implemented new formula within our first term.
We will base special education funding on actual needs, not overall populations, with timely needs assessments. This will mean overall funding increases for students with special educational needs, helping schools, teachers, paraprofessionals and education assistants give these children the support they need.
We will build on Ontario’s Provincial and Demonstration schools’ track record of success, especially in helping students who are deaf, blind or deaf-blind, and students with severe learning disabilities who need greater support. And we will lift the cap on classes.
To make sure kindergarten students get the attention they need, we will put a class-size cap on each classroom — not an average cap that allows some classes to be dramatically overcrowded. We will cap kindergarten classrooms at 26 children and we will end Kindergarten / Grade 1 split classrooms. We will develop options for more Early Childhood Educators in full-day kindergarten classrooms.
Our 10-year capital plan for schools will specifically address the repair backlog in Ontario’s schools. And we’ll fix the rules around Education Development Charges — payments developers make when they build new homes or condos — so they can be used to fund new schools.
We will end EQAO tests (the standardized tests every Ontario student is required to take). Working collaboratively with educators, we’ll determine how random sampling could support spotting early trends and deciding where we should focus on improvement, without driving teachers to “teach to the test.” That way we can leave individual assessment to the teachers’ professional judgement — they know their students best. We estimate this will save $40 million, which we will reinvest in the classroom.
We will continue the long-overdue curriculum update currently underway, and pay particular attention to career counselling for a changing workplace, as well as financial literacy and mathematics.
We will ensure history education includes the full, rich story of Indigenous peoples, the lasting impacts of colonialism and residential schools, and the need for reconciliation.
We will work with Black communities, histor- ians and educators to incorporate teaching about the history of Black Ontarians, our province’s history with the Underground Railroad, and Caribbean and African experiences.
Andrea Horwath will put a moratorium on school closures until the provincial funding formula is fixed.
We’ll work with local boards to continue to develop schools as community hubs where everyone can access great public programming and use these facilities.
During our last round of Central Negotiations with the Ministry of Education and the Trustees Associations, OSBCC agreed to Letter of Understanding #14 which states:
The parties reconfirm their intent to participate in the Provincial Health and Safety Working Group. The purpose of the working group is to consider areas related to health and safety in order to continue to build and strengthen a culture of health and safety mindedness in the education sector.
Three priorities were identified:
The first priority was to develop MOL guidance material to better inform inspectors and workplace parties on compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990 (OHSA) as it relates to workplace violence.
The second priority was to provide advice on the issue of ‘information sharing’ – namely, information being shared with board employees pertaining to student behaviour that may present a risk of harm. Some of this information may be contained in the Ontario Student Record (OSR). The advice of the PWGHS will inform next steps to expand access to this important information by spring 2018.
The third priority addresses the need to clarify and streamline Ontario’s existing reporting requirements for incidents of violence in schools. The PWGHS advice is intended to inform implementation of next steps to be taken this spring for implementation during the 2018-19 school year.
The Committee, which includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, school board sector unions and associations (i.e. CUPE, OECTA, OSSTF, ETFO, etc.) and the various Trustees Associations (i.e. OPSBA, OCSTA, etc.) met several times over several months with these priorities as our focus.
Discussions were fruitful and our CUPE PWGHS, along with other unions and associations were successful in pushing the MOL and EDU outside of their comfort zones with respect to holding School Boards accountable for the health and safety of our members.
Officially released on Friday, March 9th by Ministers Naidoo-Harris and Flynn, the Resource Guide “Workplace Violence in School Boards: A Guide to the Law” provides leading practices for developing violence policies and procedures, assessing and re-assessing risks of workplace violence, developing student safety plans, reporting violent incidents, and sharing of information with workers so they may recognize and be protected from workplace violence. The Roadmap “Workplace Violence Reporting Process in School Boards” details violence reporting requirements of the EDU, MOL, and WSIB, complete with links to the various reporting forms, Ministry PPMs, and OHSA legislation. Work is continuing on the development of training modules and a common online reporting system which we hope will someday be used across the Province.
It is important to note that these are “living documents” which we will continue to modify and improve in response to user input and evaluation of the documents.
Both documents (the Roadmap is in Appendix H of the Resource Document) can be viewed on the Province’s website by following the link below:
Your CUPE PWGHS Committee
Don Postar, Dan Mills, Vicky Evans, Michele Lalonge-Davey, Chris Sutton, and Bridget Pridham
By Colin MacKay, Intelligencer Writers Group
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 1:08:52 EST PM
BELLEVILLE – Dressing Hastings Prince Edward educational assistants (EAs) up in protective gear more akin to an NFL linebacker, or SWAT team member, doesn’t really solve the problem of violence in classrooms.
After reading Tim Miller’s excellent report, ‘EA funding formula gets an F,’ most educational personnel expressed that money from special education grants was not being targeted efficiently or effectively, and this trend has been going on for 20 years. Typically, politicians, in positions of power, continue to study incidents and then write reports. EAs do not need yet another stupid time-wasting report to read or continue to fill out incident reports. As a former ETFO member, it’s obvious, EAs need solutions to get classroom violence under control — now.
If ‘Jimmy,’ a four-year-old JK student, throws a tantrum, empties paint on brand new carpets, threatens other students with scissors, and basically destroys a classroom, an EA’s hands are tied during the event. Touching a student is rarely allowed, yet, there are times when it would appear to be warranted. Usually, in a case such as this one, the rest of the class is removed until the unruly child has calmed down and it is safe for the remainder of the class to return. The EA is supposed to patiently let the student run roughshod over the entire classroom, and then attempt to remove the student. Then, according to protocol, will write an incident report within 24 hours that, supposedly, someone reads.
One solution would be to suspend this child for at least a day and return him to the care of his parent(s). In other words, there is a consequence for totally inappropriate behaviour. But, no, not now. Instead, Jimmy may end up in the office with a sucker, with coddling continuing. No doubt Jimmy is just having an off day will be the typical administration response. The trend for the most part, is that, for reason, principals are fearful of implementing any disciplinary measures.
Obviously, an attempt to contact the parent will be made, and the parent will be asked to come in for a chat. Far too often, the parental response is to deflect responsibility. The parent, in some form, will essentially question, “What did the teacher do to set Jimmy off?” Taking responsibility for Jimmy’s actions is whose responsibility? EAs shouldn’t have to take on the role of parenting. There must be consequences for this type of misbehaviour.
Is it the job of the public school system to delve into myriad social issues? If the answer is yes, then a special grant needs to be set up for ‘social issues’ separate from the special education grants. This way, the money is specifically targeted for behavioural specialists. An EA’s main focus should be to help the teacher with scholastic activities, not be society’s interveners for social ills.
Curtailing system-wide EQAO would be one way to fund additional, and apparently required, EA support in schools. Sampling from schools, rather than continuing to have system-wide testing, would free up additional monies, that would be far more useful inside the classroom. Once again, this additional money could be focussed on an EA grant, which would be a change from the current funding formula. Targeting the number of EAs needed within a school board, rather than attaching the money loosely via a special education grant, would be an improvement.
Solutions rather than needless reports are required for EAs in schools to help reduce violence in classrooms. Give principals the ability to suspend, as consequences are needed for unacceptable behaviour. Change the funding formula to target money specifically for EAs. Decide if schools are now responsible for society’s social ills. Solutions do exist.
A brief comment in the news last week caught my eye. Pat, a retired school teacher, asked Premier Kathleen Wynne about violence in our schools, claiming teachers and students are frightened for their safety.
It was frankly satisfying to hear that question asked. You may recall it was five years ago when Lambton Shield first broke the shocking story about the outrageous state of Ontario’s education system HERE. And since that time the subject has been broached by some big names; CBC News, Global TV, the Toronto Star… heck Kathleen Wynne was even asked a question about it in Question Period last year.
Despite the press, the Ministry of Education has done little except fiddle while our education system burns.
This includes schools right here in our own little corner of utopia, Sarnia Lambton.
Why has no one done anything? Why do our Toronto politicians, who caused most of this mess, not have the intestinal fortitude to fix it?
Sigh. As always, if we want something done, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.
The first step is exposing what exactly is going on. And it ain’t pretty. Here, have a listen.
“Most people would be stunned at what is happening in our schools,” a teacher with more than 25 years experience told me. “Think of what elementary school was like when you were a kid. It’s nothing like that today,” said another.
Wowza. If that sounds pretty major, hold on, its about to get worse.
I’ve spoken with close to 100 people; most of them teachers but also principals, school kids, and parents. I’ve received emails from teachers all over Ontario, probably from every school district in Southwestern Ontario.
And son of a gun, they all tell the same story.
We learned last time that very little “teaching” goes on in Ontario’s elementary schools, it’s mostly babysitting. Let’s see what teachers are saying about violence in our schools.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the public school system you are sending your children to:
—Teachers are told to “f**k off” and threatened on a daily basis, with little or no punishment given.
—Students steal and destroy things from the teacher’s desk or their fellow students, all with no repercussions.
—Ontario teachers are hit, punched and bit at school, with little, if any, discipline for the assailant. And certainly no apology.
—Teachers have scissors and chairs thrown at them. SCISSORS! In any other place in Ontario that would get you arrested, in Ontario schools it gets you returned to the same teacher’s class the very next day.
—Teachers have witnessed innocent kids get punched, hit and slapped by “bad kids”. One student smashed little girl’s head off the wall so hard it nearly broke her jaw. Why did he do this? Because he didn’t like the fact that the teacher opened the window. That student is still in the same class as that little girl.
More than one teacher has told me they had to lock their classroom door and stand against it while a student was trying to get in, saying he was going to beat up/kill another student in the class.
If a child doesn’t want to come in off the playground after recess, they don’t have to. Schools have a hands-off policy so no one will be carrying little Billy into the school. The school could call home but parents were told by the government to butt out of education long ago, so parents now believe their bad child is the school’s problem. What to do? The school will assign staff to simply stand and watch them.
What if little Billy decides to run away? (This is a daily event in some classes) No one from the school can stop them. If the student leaves school property, the school calls the police. (This is a weekly and sometimes daily event in many schools). Since most schools are located on a street or roadway of sorts, isn’t there a chance a runaway grade one or grade two student might get hit by a car? Kidnapped? Lost? Of course. But apparently that’s not the Ministry of Education’s worry.
What a great system!
Seriously, I want you to tell me if that sounds like a safe place to work?
Is this the kind of school you thought you were sending your kids to?
Oh, and exactly how much learning do you think kids in these schools are getting?
Every school does not have all these elements of course, but teachers were almost unanimous in saying that schools all have at least some of these situations. MANY more than most parents know.
Yes right here in Lambton County.
Still not convinced?
The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) just released its Workplace Survey Results, and guess what? Their findings back up mine 100%.
- 70% of elementary teachers witnessed violence or have been a victim
- 79% say the number of violent incidents has risen
- 75% say the severity has increased
- 84% of teachers say it has negatively impacted teaching
EVERYTHING we have been saying!
Most people would be stunned at what is happening in their child’s school.
Our dear leader, Kathleen Wynne, said at the Ottawa town hall meeting that any violence at school is “unacceptable.” Apparently, she isn’t looking very hard. (Would someone please be a dear and send her a copy of this column?)
If violence is unacceptable why are teachers, students, and educational assistants (EA’s) across the province experiencing it?
What happened to the Harassment Policy the Ontario government was so proud of a few years ago. Does it not apply to Teachers or our children?
What about the rule of law? Is there some sort of invisible boundary line surrounding schools that says normal laws don’t apply here? Feel free to hit, kick, assault and threaten anyone, no charges laid?
Name me ANYWHERE else in Ontario you could do this?
You can bet you’d be in handcuffs if you treated Kathleen that way.
But our teachers and our children don’t have a group of police officers surrounding them all day.
Many teachers tell me that the EA’s in the classroom bear the brunt of this violence. They don’t have police escorts either.
So why are we letting this happen?
Several of the teachers I talked to said things really got worse about 10 years ago or so. I’m not sure what changed, and I’m all for trying out new ideas in our school system, but I think the verdict is in. The current system is a complete disaster.
Isn’t our Premier all about science? I would say 10 years of evidence screaming at you seems like it’s a pretty open and shut case that things are failing. So why isn’t the Premier and the Minister of Education doing something about this? If they don’t know the health and safety of thousands of students and teachers are being ignored every day, then they are either incompetent or ignoring it.
So what to do? David Martin from the Durham teachers union was interviewed by Global News a while ago and he hit the nail on the head. He said nothing will change until the public is aware of what is going on.
Dave is a wise man.
Our teachers and EA’s can’t do it alone. The union can’t do it alone. The media, Town Halls and Question Period can’t do it alone. But with a big push from all of us, we can get it done together.
I don’t want my daughter to come home from school tomorrow with a broken jaw. I don’t want her to see her teacher get stabbed with a pair of scissors. Let’s make the government hear us. Here are some practical steps:
—Share this article on Facebook (and any others you find, this isn’t just the Matt show.)
Know any teachers or parents with kids in school? Ask them to share it too. I know it sounds lame: “Let’s talk about it on social media”—but there’s only one thing the Ministry of Education fears, and it’s a good old-fashioned parental revolt. An angry social mob of parents demanding change.
“Nothing will change until the public is aware of what is going on.”
—Email your MPP. I’m not sure there’s much they can do at the moment, but we might as well let them know we’re coming so they can get on our side.
Any teachers or school staff who have a story to add to the above, I would love to hear from you. All emails will be kept confidential. firstname.lastname@example.org
by Paula Turner
I recently re-tweeted a news article about how the Premier of our province, Kathleen Wynne, criticized Tim Horton’s franchisees for taking away benefits from employees as a cost cutting measure to meet the new minimum wage requirements; she called the owners ‘bullies’. I pointed out that Kathleen Wynne’s government has systematically cut benefits from education and other workers in the province over the last several years. My question was: who is the bully in that situation?
As could be expected, I received a couple of comments telling me that as a public servant, I was overpaid, didn’t know what life is like in the “real world” and had been coddled. I responded with examples of how I didn’t feel I was coddled (being injured, etc.) – and then I stopped. First of all, getting into a war of words on Twitter is as useful as a bathing suit in a snowstorm, and secondly, I feel the discussions about education funding always come back to workers, teachers and others being greedy.
Here’s my bottom line – and the only thing that should matter to everyone when it comes to education: the best interests of students.
When you take money out of the system, students are harmed.
Governments and uninformed people in the public continually circle the issues around education funding back to it being about salaries and benefits. Yes, those are important. Society bases people’s value on income; people need decent wages to live and to contribute to the economy; and, people deserve to be compensated fairly for their contributions.
Good educators are ones who see the importance of a balanced set of priorities. Educators have taken pay cuts in one form or another – usually small or no increases in salaries along with benefit cuts. And still, the students suffer. The governments are saving money on salaries, as they said they needed to. And yet, the cuts continue. Fewer supports, high student to teacher and educational assistant ratios, closing schools and/or classrooms (meaning fewer places for students with specialized needs to receive appropriate care), less professional development opportunities, fewer mental and physical health care specialists – all of these directly impact students.
Yes; I got ticked that the Premier took away my benefits. But, let’s be clear: my biggest priorities, and that of all good educators, are our students and their learning conditions. The fact that those are also our working conditions should not make the picture muddy.
The difficulties educators and students are facing ARE the real world and constitute the real learning environment for thousands of students everyday.
by Paula Turner
On November 19, 2017, CBC Radio’s Cross Country Check Up discussed Violence in Schools.
There have been several media reports on this topic including an Ottawa teacher, Tony Lamonica, speaking out about his experience of violence on the job. Lamonica’s experience was horrendous and life changing. Violence is not something any person should have to deal with at their place of work.
As I listened to the CBC call in program, I was deeply troubled and I doubt I was alone. The show shed significant light on the consequences of insufficient funding in education. The calls and discussion focused on the issues facing educators, parents, students, and communities when it comes to aggression in schools.
It also highlighted the range of understandings about what constitutes aggression, what should be done about it, which students should/should not be held accountable, and what are the responsibilities of educators, Boards and the government when it comes to solutions.
It is a hot mess.
Many Educational Assistants have had multiple trips to Emergency rooms in a year; many have to go on sick leave; many have lasting injuries. I have had three trips to the Emergency Room and two other times when I probably should have gone.
I do not hold the students who harmed me responsible for my injuries. I have worked with students identified with special needs wherein aggressive behaviours are one way in which they cope when they have not yet learned the skills to self regulate, or they are unable to learn those skills. In order to teach those skills to a student, I need time to observe what triggers students and try different techniques to help them acquire those skills. That time is rarely available in the system as it is currently funded.
I am not naive: some students, like some people, have control of their behaviours and still harm others. That is one category of alarming behaviour within education systems across the country.
I am looking at this through the lens of special education and I worry that some people are lumping all students into one profile: a purposefully violent person.
Other types of violent incidents are happening on a daily basis for many educators and no one incident can be considered to be representative of the wide range of violence within any one system, or across a province, or certainly across the country.
One caller to the CBC show, Bonnie Dineen, was an Educational Assistant with 20 years of experience. She discussed the issue of not having enough information prior to walking into a classroom.
There is no funding for preplanning meetings for teaching teams. The time needed to get to know the student, their needs and the appropriate supports is not funded in the current model.
A guest on the show, Shelley Hymel, a UBC Education faculty professor, stressed the importance of training and supports that meet the changing needs of students and staff. Hymel stated, “My feeling is that we’re running on an economic model as opposed to a child-focused model”.
This is also, sadly, not news. Education systems have been financially gutted over the past decades to pay for priorities (or errors) of the government. The result is that there are not enough experts or resources or trained professionals to deal with the needs (educational, social, emotional and physical) of students.
There are not enough hands on deck for the number of students with exceptional learning deficits and needs.
The lack of funding means there is a lack of safety in our schools; this has created the crisis for students, educators, families and communities.
We need to listen to people on the front lines and we need to give them the support to effectively do their job and be educators who can support student success, whatever success looks like for individual students. There is no one size fits all model for appropriate supports or ‘success’.
Society and governments owe it to students to create the system where professionals have the time and resources to listen and observe students and create education plans that work for their abilities and needs – not rush from one crisis to another, putting out fires without ever having time to discover the source.
Right now there is insufficient funding in education coupled with outcome expectations which are not meeting the needs of students.
We need to sufficiently fund education systems so that educators can go to work and be safe.