Lifting Children Up from K-12
(Cette politique sera bientôt traduite)
(A separate statement on post-secondary education will be released soon).
As an Ontario Liberal Leadership candidate, and as a parent, my vision for education is centred around fostering a learning environment that empowers students, supports educators, and improves school facilities.
- Nurturing and Safe Schools for All Children
- Ending Mandatory Online Learning Requirements
- Properly Funding the Student Nutrition Program
- Lowering Class Sizes
- Connecting Students and Teachers to Mental Health Professionals
Access to a high quality education must not be contingent on a student’s postal code, their family life, their ability, their gender identity or sexual orientation. Schools must continue to be nurturing and safe places for all children to grow and thrive, regardless of their homelife situations. This includes proper funding of the Student Nutrition Program to ensure that hunger does not impede learning.
Growing classes and cuts to educational support staff means that students are not getting the care and attention that they deserve. For students to reach their full potential, they need to be in classes where they can build connections to their teachers and support staff. That’s why we will fund more Educational Assistants, reverse Premier Ford’s class-size inflation and work with our education sector partners to tighten class size caps from Kindergarten right through to Grade 10 (before streaming), with particular attention to schools serving disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Students with disabilities and mental health challenges are falling through the cracks. Parents and educators are doing their best to navigate disconnected support systems with little funding, few services, and little to no transparency. We will restore funding so that every student who needs specialist support can receive it.
Given the importance of mental health for youth, we should ensure that teachers are adequately trained to identify problems in the classroom and have access to mental health professionals as necessary, including for themselves
During the pandemic lockdowns, we all saw just how hard online learning was for many students and teachers. It’s harder for a teacher to hold a student’s attention or to understand the student's perspective when they encounter difficulty. That’s why we will end the mandatory online learning requirement and restore the funding required for in-person high school classes, while continuing to invest in our school board-based online learning programs that help deliver more course options to students in small schools.
- More Educational Assistants and Smaller Class Sizes
- Supporting Safe and Respectful Workplaces
- Facilitating Regional Transfers and Credentialing for International Teachers to Address Staff Shortages
Ontario is fortunate to have world-class educators in our schools, including teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, administrators, and others. From many conversations with educators, a common refrain I have heard is that teachers are overstretched and students are more difficult to manage. Class sizes need to be smaller and we need more Educational Assistants.
This need for right-sized and right-staffed classrooms is important enough to merit new spending in the budget, and I would prioritize schools that serve disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Pay and working conditions are important to attract and retain talented and devoted educators. Bill 124, which prevented educators and support workers from negotiating fair salaries, was a mistake by the Ford Government. Preventing collective bargaining is wrong - as was Bill 115 with a prior Liberal government. By respecting collective bargaining rights, we will ensure that these professionals receive due recognition and dignity.
We will also work with school boards to rethink the current safe workplace environment policies that leave staff vulnerable to elevated levels of classroom disruption, which sometimes includes violence. Higher classroom staffing levels will also help.
Employment shortfalls must also be addressed by facilitating staff transfers between regions to address population growth and expediting internationally-certified teachers on their pathway to provincial credentials.
Our educators have an important role to play in our children’s lives, and we must invest in that work.
Improving School Facilities
- Fixing Our School Buildings
- Expanding the Modular Build Program
- Improving the Cyber-Security of Ontario’s Education Sector
Every student deserves a safe place to learn, and with a $16.8 billion dollar maintenance backlog in our province, governments of all political stripes have let our children down.
Repairs and upgrades have been in a consistent backlog. It’s important that adequate funding be directed to stabilising our schools, but we will also listen to school boards when they say that they need to build new facilities.
The modular build program has given us some breathing room as building stock ages and the program should be expanded. However, we should also explore other innovative solutions to ensure that facility improvements happen on time and on budget.
IT safety in our schools is a growing concern. By improving systems security against the rising frequency of cyberattacks targeting Ontario’s education sector and the personal information it manages.