Toronto, October 24, 2019
Today the Minister of Education claimed that the Ford government was extending an olive branch to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) by offering to decrease the average class size the government is proposing for Ontario high schools from 28 to 25.
It was not mentioned at today’s press conference that the proposal OSSTF/FEESO received at the bargaining table this morning would also remove any class size limits imposed by local collective agreements with school boards around the province.
“The proposal that we received this morning is, in fact, worse than the Ford government’s original plan to hike average class size ratios to 28:1,” said OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof. “A move from the current class size ratio of 22:1 to 25:1 would still remove roughly 5,000 teachers from our high schools. And with the removal of locally-enforceable class size caps, there would essentially be no limits on the size of classes into which Ontario students could be squeezed.”
“This fall we are already seeing the chaos that this government’s class size policies are creating in Ontario high schools,” continued Bischof. “To the degree that any semblance of order has been maintained, we have the class size caps in our local collective agreements to thank for that. An agreement on our part to remove those caps would be an agreement to undermine the learning environments in our schools. It would frankly amount to a betrayal of our students.”
“Just as with their initial claims about the provincial deficit – claims that have now been exposed as a gross exaggeration – the Ford government continues to offer bogus numbers and incomplete information in an effort to misdirect the attention of the public. They simply don’t want to acknowledge or discuss the real issue, which is the conditions under which our students are expected to succeed.”
“We cannot and will not accept the government’s proposal on class sizes. We will instead continue to advance proposals that are good for students, good for public education and good for the future of Ontario,” concluded Bischof.
Harvey Bischof, President
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation