Submitted by the Peninsula Action Committee for Education (PACE)
The Ontario government has recently released its plan called Modernizing Education. This article is an attempt to clarify two of the major challenges in this plan.
The government plan is to decrease the funding for secondary school classes. Funding for teaching staff will be based on an average class size of 28 instead of 22. At first this may sound pretty reasonable, but it presents some huge challenges. This average is used to determine how many teachers are funded for each school board, not the number who can be in a classroom at one time. So, making the fundable class average almost 1/3 larger means fewer teachers, but not fewer courses that need to be offered. This has a far more devastating effect in small secondary schools where students are required to complete 30 credits based on 17 extensive curriculum requirement documents, with 18 compulsory credits in 14 different subject areas. Clearly such a decrease in classroom funding severely limits opportunities for students. We need a funding model that enables small schools in rural areas to offer adequate programming that supports student success, and we need to let our MPP Bill Walker know that.
The second major challenge is that all secondary school students will be required to take a minimum of four e-learning classes to graduate. Although e-learning is a growing source of program delivery at post-secondary and in business and industry, the completion rate is low in those contexts, and the success rate for secondary school students taking e-learning courses for their high school diploma is very low. This online version of correspondence courses does not support student success. In contrast, the model of real-time online teaching used by John Rodgers of BPDS, highlighted in the February 5 issue of the Bruce Peninsula Press, has a much higher student success rate, and needs to be considered by the Ministry of Education. Again, we need to communicate that to our MPP, Bill Walker.
The bottom line is that “modernizing education” could result in much more restricted programming and lower graduation rates. Although these proposed changes represent a funding cut of almost half a billion dollars, the long term unintended cost of these reductions could be additional loss of small schools and a lower rate of student success. As well, our community research tells us that having local schools in our community is essential to the wellbeing of the community and its residents.
So, our main messages:
• Funding an average class size of 28 will make it almost impossible for secondary schools with fewer than 400 student to provide the courses required to graduate
• E-learning in its current format should be replaced by real-time online learning
HAVE YOUR SAY!
The deadline is MAY 31 for consultation on these changes. Send an email to the Class Size Consultation Guide:
Send a letter or an email to our MPP Bill Walker:
920 1st Avenue West, Suite 100
Owen Sound, ON N4K 4K5
You can also send a letter or an email to Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education:
807 Queen St.
Kincardine, ON N2Z 2Y2
Toll Free 1-866-396-3007
Follow PACE on Facebook to keep informed. Our page is called Peninsula Action Committee for Education – just like or follow the page to see what we post.