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March 15 education announcements: a statement in response from OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof

This morning the Minister of Education announced a number of devastating changes to Ontario’s education system, many of which will have a direct negative impact on OSSTF/FESSO members and the students they work with every day.

Most significantly, average class size ratios in secondary schools will rise from 22:1 to 28:1. Phased in over four years, this will result in a loss of 3,630 frontline OSSTF/FEESO teachers from Ontario’s public education system – a loss that cannot possibly be absorbed without a significant impact on student learning and success. This comes at a time when higher needs ASD students will be returning to the classroom on April 1 because of the government's ill-conceived changes to the Ontario Autism Program. And of course, these students are far from the only special needs students OSSTF/FEESO members are dedicated to supporting on a daily basis.

This move is accompanied by a number of other distressing changes, including a reduction of 12.91 percent of the Pupil Foundation grant over four years and a reduction of 5.88 percent to the overall Grants for Student Needs over the same period, a reduction that will remove 1.4 billion dollars from Ontario’s public education system.

These moves, along with other measures announced today, amount to an appalling betrayal of the public trust. Not only do they make a mockery of the claim that there is fat to cut in Ontario's public education system, but given the premier’s repeated election promises that no jobs will be lost, the government quite simply has no mandate to make the changes they have announced this morning.

With these announcements, the government has declared war on Ontario’s public education system, and OSSTF/FEESO’s response in defence of that system will be commensurate.

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The upcoming provincial election is an opportunity to strengthen public education-- the cornerstone of a strong society--and create a more equitable and prosperous future for Ontario. Ontario’s public