The Ford government’s education plans are deeply flawed and highlight a bewildering approach to policymaking, Catholic educators say

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TORONTO, April 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) has issued the following statement from President Barb Dobrowolski in response to Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s announcement of changes to literacy and math education, and Ford’s Conservative government’s introduction of the so-called paradox Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act.

“Yesterday’s announcement by Secretary of Education Lecce and today’s proposed legislation are further examples of the Ford government’s flawed approach to education policy-making and its bewildering, almost intransigent refusal to understand how our world-class publicly funded education system can support and best student success.

Catholic teachers are disappointed that the Ford government is, once again, trying to deceive the people of Ontario, by announcing grand scale plans that – when stripped of Minister Lecce’s “courtship” – fall far short of what the students need and deserve. With yesterday’s announcement and today’s proposed legislation, it’s clear that the government cannot bring itself to do the one thing that will make the biggest impact: invest properly in Ontario’s publicly funded education system.

Instead, Ford’s conservative government is taking Ontario education in the wrong direction entirely—with proposed changes to literacy education that cherry-pick evidence, ignore the complexities of learning, and undermine teachers’ professional judgment; and a “plan” for teaching math at less than 50 cents per student per day, which proposes one tutor for every 6,650 students. And all the while, the government continues to make major changes to the curriculum without having the proper time and resources to ensure a smooth transition and maximum success for students. This government clearly wants to check the box and say it’s done something, rather than making sure it’s doing the right thing, and doing it well.

Every aspect of the proposed government changes raises far more questions than answers. But the first of these questions is: What would it have for a government—that claims to take its responsibilities seriously—to shut down the entire education community, quietly crafting and introducing wide-ranging changes without consulting teachers on the front lines, or making any meaningful effort. To get their input, expertise or feedback?

Collaboration is the hallmark of strong policy making. It is frustrating and insulting that Catholic teachers and all educators are hearing about the government’s plans for the first time through leaks on social media and press conferences.

A government that truly shares a commitment to improving the learning environment for students is making significant and sustainable investments in publicly funded education, to ensure timely and equitable access to a robust range of in-class resources and support, tailored to students’ individual needs – and by addressing relevant issues , such as the need to reduce class sizes. Over the past several days, Minister Lizhi had said many words, but offered almost nothing of value.

We will continue to monitor developments as more detailed information becomes available. In the meantime, Catholic teachers are once again urging the government to stop this flawed plan, and instead work collaboratively and meaningfully with teachers on the front lines, to ensure that government policy addresses students’ unique circumstances, giving them what they need to thrive.”

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OECTA represents 45,000 passionate, qualified teachers in publicly funded Ontario English Catholic schools, K-12.


CONTACT: Michelle Despault Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association 416-925-2493 x 509 [email protected]
Ontario English Catholic Teach