Fix the Ontario broken education funding formula now: Use your June 7 vote to do this!

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Wed, 6 Jun 2018 Source: Joe Kingsley Eyiah

“Education is a vital human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every girl and every boy should have the right to a quality education so that they can have more chances in life, including employment opportunities, better health and also to participate in the political process.”

As a member of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) I fully support the current campaign to fix the Education Funding Formula under the slogan: OUR STUDENTS MATTER! My Federation has identified top ten reasons we need to fix the broken education funding formula in Ontario.

These reasons become more crucial as Ontarians go to the polls on June 7 to elect the next government for the province. Therefore we need to make sure that whichever political party (Liberals, PC, NDP or Green Party) that is elected to form the next government will have to heed the voices of reason and fix the broken education funding formula which was put in place since 1997!

In this brief discourse I will outline the ETFO’s top 10 reasons and shed light on at least 4 of them to convince the public to advocate for better public schools in Ontario.

According to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), “Governments have the primary responsibility for their own national education programs.” It is therefore incumbent on Ontario Provincial government like any responsible government anywhere to embark on education funding which meets the needs of its students.

It is rather unfortunate that the 1997 education funding formula in use today in Ontario was never based on actual student needs!

The current provincial education funding formula, according to the ETFO, is not realizing the schools that Toronto students deserve.

“Large class sizes, insufficient supports for students with special needs, crumbling buildings and classrooms that are either too hot or too cold, cuts to specialist teachers, and increasing violent incidents-the barriers negatively impacting our students’ learning conditions and our working conditions-they are all related to a broken funding formula.”

The top ten reasons we need to fix the broken education funding formula include:

1.Ontario’s per pupil funding does not come close to meeting expectations.

2.Resources for our students with special needs are severely lacking.

3.Class sizes in Grades 4-8 and kindergarten are too big.

4.Full day kindergarten costs are not covered.

5.Health and safety issues are not getting immediate attention they need.

6.English as a Second Language (ESL) funding is not guaranteed.

7.Program funding for our most vulnerable students has never been enough.

8.Elementary students do not get as much support as secondary students.

9.Basic school programs and services are treated like a funding “frill”.

10.Teachers do regular report cards; the Province has not since 2002.

As outlined above students, with special needs are not properly funded under the 1997 formula. For example, “the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) lost $8.6 million in special education funding in 2016-2017, as the funding model prioritizes statistics, not actual student need.”

Also, it could be seen that there is not enough individual teacher attention for students due to large class sizes. For example, in my school some class sizes range between 30 and 33 students. We need smaller classes in grades 4 to 8 and kindergarten. Smaller class sizes will promote better rapport between teacher and individual students.

The current funding formula allows for huge class sizes (30 and above), shortchanging our youngest students.

The funding formula has failed to address the health and safety concerns at our public schools. Workplace violence, air quality, noise level, and mould continue to ‘haunt’ our schools. ETFO has revealed that there is a $15.9 billion provincial repair backlog in our aging schools.

Unfortunately, elementary students do not get as much support as secondary students. Ontario continues to spend $612 less on elementary students than secondary. I would like to stress here that we need to build a solid foundation for students in Ontario by investing in elementary education and teachers for effective pedagogy.

Parents should know that their children have their own unique learning needs as do the other children in their classrooms.

Education is the biggest enterprise in any civilized society and as an educationist, I expect Ontarians on June 7, 2018 to vote for fair funding in order to build better public schools for our children. I AM VOTING TO BUILD BETTER SCHOOLS!

Columnist: Joe Kingsley Eyiah