Yesterday, it was announced that the Ontario provincial (read: Ford) government is considering removing the cap placed on the number of kindergarten and primary grade students. Currently, the cap is set at 29 students in kindergarten and 23 children in grades one to three.
Public education in this province is in crisis. It’s been in crisis for years and it’s not getting any better. Teachers are supplying classrooms with items they purchase out of their own wallets. Text books are old. Support staff keeps being reduced. Desperately needed schools are not getting built, and the aging ones are falling apart. And now, Doug Ford, in order to find ways to cut money, wants to up class size caps – to reduce the number of teachers. As if we don’t also have a major surplus of those.
Could you imagine an unlimited number of four-year-olds in a room? TRYING TO LEARN? I’m sure kindie teachers across the province lost sleep thinking about just that, last night.
There is zero doubt that the number of children in a classroom has a significant impact on the children’s ability to learn. In fact, one of the main selling points of private schools, where people shell out tens of thousands of dollars a year for their kids to attend is, you guessed it, small class sizes. The fewer the kids the more attention the teacher can give the students. It’s simple math.
The first half of this year, from September until Christmas break, my seven-year-old was in a classroom with two teachers and 42 kids. FORTY-TWO SEVEN YEAR OLDS! It was a nightmare. It was such a bad scene for my loves-to-learn kid that he was basically flunking out of French Immersion. His first year in the program, taught exclusively in French, was proving to be insurmountable.
We had made the decision to remove him from the program, when his teacher approached me two weeks into the new year, once the classes had finally been divided.
“It’s like night and day,” she told me. “He finally gets it. It’s like once there was more quiet in the room, he had the space to think.” For my kid, class size had a dire impact on his ability to learn. The results of removing that barrier were significant and immediate. It’s no coincidence.
I get that the province is strapped for cash. I get that cuts have to happen somewhere. But they shouldn’t continue to come at the expense of our most vulnerable and most vital population – our kids. There have got to be other ways.
How much money would be saved if they got rid of the separate school boards? Maybe removing all of the unnecessary redundancies that exist having multiple boards could have saved those much needed dollars.
But no, the low hanging fruit is not disrupting the voter base by messing with something over which people are ragingly passionate. Far better, I guess, to screw over our poor kids and the teachers charged with instilling an education into them. The low hanging fruit are our kids in underfunded overburdened schools being taught by overworked, exhausted teachers.
If you're as upset as I am by the Ontario's government's proposal to remove/change classroom size caps, call your local representative. PLEASE.