Education Minister: 'No fundamental changes' to class sizes
Ontario's Minister of Education vows there will be 'no fundamental changes' to class sizes in the upcoming school year.
Making an announcement in Toronto, Stephen Lecce, spoke out against claims the government planned to make drastic cuts to teaching staff which would cause class sizes to balloon. Two weeks ahead of the start of school, the province is promising average high school class sizes will be smaller than first anticipated.
"A variety of entities have gone out an suggested to parents and educators and students themselves that class sizes would be dramatically higher," said Lecce. CTV News has learned Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government will file regulations on Thursday to limit the average size of a classroom to 22.5 students per teacher. "Effectively maintaining what it was last year at 22," according to the Minister of Education.
However, because this number is an average, some class sizes in high schools could be much larger. Union leaders have previously warned that as many as 30 students could be packed into an Ontario high school classroom.
"That tone is intended to mislead Ontario’s parents. That's very disappointing because the stark, stark reality is four years they still want to get rid of one-quarter of Ontario’s teachersIn an attempt to cut down the education budget, Premier Doug Ford’s government announced back in March that class sizes between Grade 4 and Grade 12 would be expanded over the next four years," said Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation President Harvey Bischof, who represents 60,000 high school teachers across the province.
"One quarter of student class options four years from now will disappear, that's 30,000 coursesAverage class sizes for Grades 4 to 8 were set to increase from 23 to 24 students, while high school classes would expand from 22 to 28 students," said Bischof.
Government sources caution the class size policy will not be changed – meaning high school class averages will still increase to 28 over the next four years.
The previously reported changes led to chaos within school boards, which were faced with reducing staff, cancelling classes and funding cuts.
"I've been teaching for 30 years and you can figure out what works and what doesnt work," said Ottawa high school teacher Susan Rab; who described larger class sizes as 'Bad for kids."
Rab said the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has already made 20 job cuts at 25 schools in June after the retirement of teachers; those jobs have not been replaced.
"120 classes were cut for September 2019, and we're not sure today's announcement changes anything," said Rab. "Individual kids don't get the education they need but they also don't the classes they need, because if we cut teachers, and make each class bigger, there are fewer classes available."
Classes begin for many in Ontario September 3.