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Protest and Town Hall meeting on education cuts and changes

Concerns about changes and cuts to education will come forward in two events next week.

Some students at Prince Edward Collegiate wanting to tell the Doug Ford government they disagree his recent reforms to education are supporting a province-wide walk-out set for Thursday, April 4 at 1:15 p.m.

Families, students and community members wanting more information about the issues are being invited to attend a Town Hall meeting entitled “Putting Students First” at 7 pm at the Picton Town Hall to discuss the proposed cuts to education, the effects on secondary students and the community. Parents of elementary-aged children are also invited.

Those supporting “PECI Says No” are concerned about mandatory online classes, larger class sizes with fewer teachers, cuts to Ontario Student Assistance Programs and cuts the could target arts courses and programs.

Reforms also include new elementary math and sex-ed curricula and province-wide ban on cellphones in the classroom (except for educational purposes).

Announcing the reforms earlier this month, Education Minister Lisa Thompson stated there would be no teaching jobs lost because of the class-size changes as the province would rely on attrition to cut costs. But teaching unions across the province are saying the class size increases will result in reduction of teaching positions and the gap between the government’s proposals and their collective agreements is unbridgeable.

Scott Marshall, OSSTF District 29 President, will be on hand at the Town Hall meeting to outline the proposed cuts and their potential impacts. There will also be a question session to follow.

“The Ministry of Education’s recent announcement of funding cuts will turn the learning environment in local area high schools upside down,” said Marshall. “Students will see larger class sizes for compulsory subjects, the loss of smaller programs, and these cuts will leave the most vulnerable students without the supports that they deserve.”

Marshall said the government’s corresponding announcements about cell phones and sex education are a distraction from the issue of devastating cuts.

“Students in Bancroft, Madoc, Trenton, Bayside, Belleville, and Picton will not have the same opportunities, nor have access to a strong, publicly-funded education system as those before them if these announced cuts are not opposed. This government announcement is, at best, a recipe for inadequate schools and unmanageable classrooms. At worst, it is a recipe for chaos.”

Among reforms announced by the Progressive Conservative government:
– Over the next four years, average class size for Grades 9-12 to be adjusted to 28, up from current average of 22; and by one student for Grades 4 to 8.
– Class sizes for kindergarten do not change, nor does the cap of 23 students in Grades 1 to 3.
– Reduction of eligibility for OSAP to families earning $140,000 annually (from $175,000) with most of the grants going to students whose parents earn less than $50,000 per year.
– 10 per cent tuition fee cut for students
– Previous mandatory fees paid by students to be optional (student government, clubs)
– Eliminate six-month interest-free grace period
– Ban use of cell phones except for educational purposes

Filed Under: Local News

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