Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced Tuesday that the provincial government has changed its stance on higher class sizes and mandatory e-learning for students.
“We certainly want to see the details behind the announcement,” District 29 Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation President Scott Marshall says of Tuesday’s announcement. “As I’ve said all along with this government we need to look much deeper.”
“The minister made this announcement without the knowledge of anyone on our side in that room,” Marshall goes on to say. He explains the OSSTF’s bargaining team was meeting with the provincial government’s when Lecce made the announcement. Marshall says this should have been discussed with them before it was announced to the public.
“Everything this minister has said to date has been disingenuous,” Marshall says. “It certainly appears to be smoke and mirrors.” He adds that if they were serious about this, they would have discussed these changes at the bargaining table before going public.
After initially refusing to do so, earlier this month the government released the feedback they got from parents on the education system in the province. 70-percent of the 7,036 parents that submitted a response were against increases in class sizes. The common response was that class sizes should be limited to 20 students across all grades. Respondents also recommended that if e-learning is mandated, it should be done gradually and by school boards.
“It clearly showed the public did not support a class size increase and was also not supportive of a model forcing students to take e-learning,” Marshall says of the results. “Keep in mind for months no that the (Stephen Lecce) has been saying the changes to public educatin has been what parents are asking for.”
Marshall says he wants bargaining to continue, but that has to be done at the negotiation table, not through press conferences.