STOP SCHOOL CUTS AND SAVE OUR KIDS’ EDUCATION - Etobicoke School of the Arts

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Mary Bella
Mary Bella signed this petition

We the Parents of ESA Students, believe the proposed cuts to our public education system threaten the success, health and well-being of our students.  We cannot stand by and watch while the government attempts to damage our education system.  Parents and students continue to revolt.  We call on you to prevent this callous, ill-conceived and thinly veiled funding slash-and-burn.

The Ford Government claims that Ontario schools are “destroyed” and “broken’.  The facts tell a different story: today, nearly 80% of Ontario’s high school students are graduating, a 23% increase from 2004.  We are among the world’s leaders: as of 2015 Ontario ranked 6th out of 72 educational jurisdictions across the world on international assessment tests in science.  Our students are receiving world-leading education.  This is not the description of a broken system.

Despite these successes, cuts and regressions have already been started by our government:

  • Cancelling $100 million of scheduled school repairs;
  • Slashing $25 million from at-risk youth education and after-school programs;
  • Cutting children’s autism services, and only backing down from the worst of it in the face of a massive parent and educator revolt;
  • Mishandling the sex education curriculum, and
  • Reduced per-pupil funding.

The government announced it will increase “average: class size from 22 to 28”.  It is a purposely misleading statistic: a 28-student average class size will mathematically guarantee some classes increasing to 40+ students, a count unmanageable for teachers.  It follows that nearly 10,000 teaching jobs will disappear, and hiring will be frozen.  Overloaded classrooms will result in our most marginalized and vulnerable students, not receiving the support they need.  Students will have fewer electives to choose from.  This could impact their career paths.

The government recently announced that it will trim per-pupil education funding, which critics argue will impact student learning conditions, given it includes an overall cut of $630 million from the pupil foundation grant.

The Ford government states that resilience and preparation for the “real world” will be optimized with larger class sizes, where students learn to fight it out on their own.  Resilience is having the emotional support needed to overcome real-world obstacles and know how to bounce back.  Resilience happens from a foundation of safety and security, which is fostered through quality education, personal attention, mentoring relationships, guidance, and well-rounded support.

Denying our students, the basic emotional and academic supports they need, is unconscionable and cruel.  Many students today are experiencing mental health crisis.  Canada’s youth suicide rate is already third highest in the industrialized world.  In 2019, our children are NOT coping.  62% of our youth struggle with anxiety alone here in Ontario.  We need “individualized” educational programming that recognizes the unique intellectual and emotional needs of our students in this competitive, market driven economy.

The new cuts require all students to complete four of their courses on line, one on-line course per year.  The devil is in the details.  This change is not guided by a desire for best student outcomes or advancing technological competence, rather to further slash education budgets.

We all support the 3R’s: Reading; Writing, and Arithmetic.  Changing a math curriculum without consulting the experts / teachers who have to deliver the curriculum is bad enough in itself.  How is this being substantiated?  Nothing articulated, binary choice: either this or that.  What is worse is imposing a new curriculum while at the same time making massive cuts to our education system.  Cutting teachers, programs and support systems while increasing class sizes does not insure better results.

Education is an investment in the future.  A government that proclaims Ontario is “Open for Business” should ensure that every student has access to an educational system which will prepare them to succeed in a global economy.  In short, restore the Education Budget.

We demand the following from the Ford government:

  • Restore funding for schools. Including: specialized education; mental health & wellness; special needs, and guidance.
  • Restore per-pupil funding. Lowering these funds will impact student-learning conditions.
  • Set a cap on class sizes.  Averages are not caps and will result in unmanageable class sizes, far beyond the “28 pupil average”.
  • Strengthen, don’t weaken our excellent schools. Stop attempting to balance the provincial budget on the backs of students and teachers.
  • Support our teachers and their important work. Our public-school teachers are highly skilled educators, among the best in the world.  Members of your government would be wise to emulate their commitment to their jobs and to the well-being of our youth.

A progressive government should place a high value on a progressive education that prepares our students for the high demands of a sophisticated, innovation driven global society.  Our schools are not broken, we want to go forward not backwards.  Anyone who truly values the importance of education will not support the Ford government's cuts.