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.