TORONTO, May 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak today reiterated his intention to eliminate nearly 19,000 teachers and education workers from the publicly funded education system, a move that James Ryan, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), says will harm students and reverse many of the gains made in Ontario's education system in the past decade.
Hudak clarified that he will increase class sizes while also changing the staffing model for full-day Kindergarten and introducing a new standardized test. These initiatives go against the overwhelming evidence from experts in the field, including the teachers who interact with students in the classroom every day.
"As a teacher, I am particularly alarmed at the consequences of removing many thousands of teachers and education workers from our classrooms," says Ryan. "Parents are even now clamouring for more support for their children in Special Education. Parents and concerned citizens have been asking the government for more arts education, for beefed up math instruction, for programs that address bullying, mental health issues and much more. How can Ontario respond to these needs with fewer teachers and education workers in our schools?"
Ryan says putting three more students in a class does not sound like much to someone who has never visited the classroom of today, but that increase can make a significant difference in the educational progress and wellbeing of the individual child. "Our classrooms reflect our society. They are highly integrated, with students of a broad spectrum of abilities — physical, intellectual, emotional — learning together. Achieving the right balance of teaching and support for each student is a daily challenge. Two or three more students in the mix without sufficient support can prove detrimental to the whole classroom. And parents will be unhappy when their child is the one suffering the consequences," says Ryan.
International organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recognize Ontario's education system as one of the best in the world, largely because of the professionals dedicated to helping students achieve their very best. The province cannot eliminate almost 19,000 of these teachers and education workers without harming our children.
OECTA represents the 45,000 professional women and men who teach all grades in publicly funded English Catholic schools in Ontario.
SOURCE: Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
Michelle Despault, Communications Department
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