Drummond recommends steep cuts in education

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February 15, 2012

Don Drummond’s report on Ontario’s public services recommends massive change, including significant cuts in education.

Drummond, appointed by the province last spring, recommends, among other things, cuts to funding for text books; fees for busing; and cutting all-day kindergarten. He says if the province doesn’t phase out all-day kindergarten, they should eliminate the early childhood educators and run the programs with just a teacher.

Help support the work ahead!

>> Read the P4E analysis

>> Listen to the P4E analysis (Annie Kidder on CBC radio).

>> Read the full Drummond Commission report

>> Read the education chapter

The Commission made significant recommendations in the area of education, including:

  • A cap on education spending:  The Commission recommended holding growth in education spending to 1%. This is a cut in real dollars because inflation, hydro and salaries have all been growing at a much faster rate.
  • Cut full day kindergarten:  The Commission recommended eliminating full-day kindergarten and, if it continues (as the Finance Minister suggested it would), changing the model so that there are 20 children in a class with a teacher and no early childhood educator;
  • Limiting students time in high school: The commission recommended that school boards should be allowed to charge fees for high school courses if a student wants to take more than 32 credits.  (To obtain a secondary school diploma, students must complete 30 credits, but a number of students currently take more than that – either to improve their marks, or because they have changed their minds about their post secondary destination and require different courses);
  • Cut 9,700 non-teaching staff: this includes staff such as educational assistants, child and youth workers, psychologists, guidance counsellors, library staff, school secretaries, principals, custodians and more;
  • 25% cut to funding for non-salary costs: including things such as classroom supplies, computers, and textbooks;
  • Increasing the age for teacher retirement: Drummond also recommended future decreases to government contributions to retirement benefits;
  • Fees for busing:  School transportation should be ‘rationalized,’ and the province should give school boards the power to charge “modest” user fees for transportation;
  • Lifting caps on class sizes. After examining research which is equivocal on the impact of class size on student success, the Commission has recommended increasing the cap on class sizes in primary grades to 23 students (up from 20);  increasing average class sizes for grades 4 to 8 to 26 students (up from 24.6) and average class sizes for high school to 24 students (up from 22).
  • First Nations Education:  The provincial government should maintain pressure on the federal government to raise the level of education funding for children on reserves to a level equal to other Canadian children.  In the absence of agreement, the province should step in and provide required funding.

People For Education Viewpoint:

Education is an investment. To look at it only as a cost – perpetually searching for the bottom line – would be shortsighted at best.

Provincial spending on education has increased substantially over the last decade. Some of that increase was to replace funding cut in the previous decade, some went to reducing class sizes, programs to improve students’ chances for graduation and to rebuild crumbling schools.

If many of these recommendations were implemented they may have unintended consequences including:

    • increasing the gap between “have” and “have not” schools (parents in some schools could just fundraise to replace cuts to funding for classroom supplies, textbooks and computers);
    • losing the early childhood development and play-based learning expertise from our kindergartens and making all-day kindergarten just kindergarten, but twice as long;
    • creating longer waits for services from staff like psychologists and social workers;
    • increased numbers of school closings;
    • longer waits for repairs and renovations to school buildings – which might increase parents’ desire to fundraise for those costs as well;
    • fewer students able to go on to the post secondary destination of their choice; and
    • an overall sense in our education system that we must do more and more with less and less.

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