Review of education funding formula needed to address funding shortfalls for students with special needs, English language learners

TORONTO, Feb.1, 2016 /CNW/ - Given continuing education spending shortfalls, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is urging the Liberal government to make good on its 2010 promise to review the education funding formula.

"The Liberal government has increased education funding since 2003, but it has only gone part way in addressing the $2 billion in cuts imposed by the previous Progressive Conservative government," said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a budget deputation to the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee today. "Programs such as special education, English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) and the arts continue to be short-changed at the elementary level, and class sizes continue to be an issue. These are all issues that ETFO has continued to flag in its Building Better Schools Education Agenda."

The number of special education students identified as requiring individualized plans and support has continued to increase and outpace the grants to support special education. At least 14 public boards are struggling with cuts to special education and some are laying off education assistants, who are crucial in assisting teachers to meet the needs of all students. When it comes to ESL, 73 per cent of English elementary schools now have English language learners (ELLs) compared to 43 per cent in 2002-03 and the number is growing with the arrival of refugees from war-torn nations such as Syria. Provincial grants for ELL students are inadequate and overall shortfalls in the funding formula have lead school boards to use their second language grants for other purposes.

In its budget brief, ETFO outlines that the government could find savings from the $36 million budget of the Education Quality and Accountability (EQAO) Office by moving Ontario's provincial testing to a random-sample model.

"This government continues to squeeze the public sector and public services to reduce its deficit even though Ontario has the lowest per capita spending among all provinces. It is presiding over an ever-widening wealth gap that is leaving too many families in poverty."

"ETFO urges the government to introduce personal and corporate income tax measures in the 2016 budget to address the income gap and increase the government's fiscal capacity to invest in public services and the economy," added Hammond.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 78,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province.

 

SOURCE Canadian Teachers' Federation

For further information: Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations: 416-962-3836 x2331, vdugale@etfo.org

RELATED LINKS
http://www.ctf-fce.ca

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