Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Education Announcement Expected, Could Include Class Size Update

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Education Announcement Expected, Could Include Class Size Update

Article excerpt

Ontario education announcement expected


TORONTO - Ontario's education sector is awaiting an update Friday on a wide range of issues, potentially including class sizes, sex education and teacher hiring.

Union leaders say they have not yet been given any details, but they expect to see cuts.

Sam Hammond, the president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, said he believes the government is looking to the education sector -- the second-largest spending area -- to help get rid of a multibillion-dollar deficit.

"(They're) putting their concerns and their focus on a deficit rather than focusing on the well-being and the long-term education, academic success and social success of students," he said.

The education ministry told school boards earlier this month to defer filling vacancies for retirements and other leaves for teachers and other staff until an update from the minister by March 15. It told the unions this week to expect information Friday on the upcoming school year.

Since the announcement is coming in the context of a hiring freeze, Laura Walton of the Canadian Union of Public Employees said she is not expecting good news.

"What we're expecting, more than anything, is more cuts that will lead to more chaos," she said.

The government has been consulting since January on class sizes and teacher hiring practices, including asking whether hard caps on class sizes should continue, and if they were removed, what would be an appropriate way to set effective class sizes.

Teachers have warned that removing primary class size caps would make it hard to meet all students' academic needs.

Currently, the kindergarten class size cap is 29 students, and the average of class sizes across any board can't be more than 26. For the primary grades the cap is 23 students, but at least 90 per cent of classes in any board must have 20 or fewer students. …

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