Make Upper Canada District School Board provide Education Plan that puts Students First
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Dear Families, Students, Concerned Citizens of Upper Canada District School Board, Supporters of Equity in Education:
Over the past number of weeks, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) has presented several significant changes to how they plan on delivering a virtual school platform. This school board has presented the need for four formats to accommodate the needs of students in a largely rural area. Those formats are in person, synchronous live-streaming, asychronous digital and asychronous non-digital.
Initially, students learning from home would be supported by the TR Leger School. After receiving confirmed numbers, the school board was not prepared to support 20% of the board's students using TR Leger based on financial considerations. The board's next decision was to have at home students supported by the board's teachers. For over two weeks, families who selected this format were waiting to hear about the start date of this new decision. The only notification given was that families would know by the 18th of September when a start date would occur.
On Monday, September 21, elementary school teachers were called to an emergency meeting at 9 am. At this meeting, the board announced that elementary teachers currently teaching the in person format would be responsible for ALL four formats. That a single classroom teacher would have to teach in person, teach the live-streaming format (which had already been assigned to them based on a lack of funds to have a separate set of teachers do this) as well as create, monitor and assess materials for the two asynchronous models. They would also be responsible for making time to respond to phone calls and emails from students/families in these two formats to support their needs during their school day. As outlined by the health unit, teachers are limited to being at the school no earlier than 8 am and have to leave when the principal leaves. They are also NOT allowed to come in on weekends.
It is largely felt by parents that asking educators to be responsible for all four formats jeopardizes the quality of education that students attending in any format would get. Students that require extra attention or have exceptionalities would certainly fall behind. This decision does NOT put the needs of students first. It also leaves 40+ teachers within the board that were expecting their virtual assignments without a job.
With the numerous changes that have occurred, it has become increasingly obvious that each change the board has made has been strictly based on lack of funds. It is alarming that the UCDSB seems to be bankrupt. No other board in the Province is experiencing these issues.
Last year, the Province made available the Audit and Accountability Fund that would have paid for school boards to have a public audit to expose areas that could be better financially managed and would guarantee extra funds from the Province. The UCDSB refused. This lack of transparency in addition to the current issues the board is having with funding a virtual school program lends itself to the belief that the board has grave financial issues they are not willing to discuss publicly.
In light of the current plan to have classroom teachers support all four models that puts students at risk of a mediocre education and undue stress on educators, the constant changes to this plan that has left families and educators in the dark on how and when the at home program would be delivered and the apparent financial crisis the Upper Canada School Board is in, the purpose of this petition is the following:
- Have the UCDSB abandon the current model announced on Monday, September 21st and create a plan that would put students and educators first.
- Have the UCDSB immediately submit to a public audit.
- Have the Director of Education, Stephen Sliwa, and Trustee Chair of the Board, John McAllister, immediately resign without remuneration/severance.
Whether your child(ren) are enrolled in the UCDSB, you're a concerned citizen of the area or an ally in the fight to create an education system that provides a fair and equitable experience for all children, please consider signing this petition so our leaders of tomorrow have a strong, positive education. Make those responsible for the poor decisions in this board accountable for their actions.
Jessica Roberts, Parent of Child in the UCDSB
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