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'We are being ignored': Local teachers react to province’s plan to boost math and literacy skills

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Teachers say they’re left with more questions than answers after the Ontario government announced a plan to boost the math and literacy skills of students.

Over the weekend, the province said it would invest more than $180 million to help students improve their reading, writing and math skills.

“We know that for your children to strive to reach their full potential, we must ensure they master their foundational skills every day,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said during a news conference alongside Parliamentary Assistant Patrice Barnes on Sunday morning. “We're outlining our strategy to boost math and literacy skills in Ontario by going back to the basics.”

Local teachers said they’re unsure about what the announcement means.

“I honestly don’t know what they are talking about when they say ‘back to basics.’ Educators have always taken a look at the students in front of them and made educational decisions on what those students need to be successful. When we hear about going back to basics, educators have been teaching those fundamentals for years,” said ETFO Waterloo President Jeff Pelich. “We are not sure what this agenda is or where it’s coming from especially when we have some idea that could be effective and we are being ignored.”

The President at OSSTF District 24, Rob Gascho, said they were also left in the dark.

“What does this mean? If there had been consultation, if we had a chance to talk, if this had been a cooperate process, we may understand this, but right now it’s just a slogan," Gascho said.

HIRING MORE TEACHERS

The provincial announcement included a plan to hire over 1,000 teachers to help with math and literacy skills.

However, there is some concern where the province will find the teachers to fill those roles.

“In Ontario we have a staffing crisis when it comes to educators. People are not wanting to go into the profession anymore. It’s now a two year university degree, and why would you go into education when they are hearing about the level of violence, when they are hearing about class sizes, when they are hearing about underfunding. It’s not the appealing job that it used to be. So we are concerned,” Pelich told CTV News.

The unions suggested the government should include teachers in the conversation, before making these types of announcements.

“Unfortunately this has been typical of this government. They don’t consult with anyone they just pop up with these announcements,” said Gascho.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) called the legislation “deeply flawed.”

Adding that the announcements by Lecce are “further examples of the Ford government’s flawed approach to education policymaking and it’s baffling, almost stubborn refusal to grasp how to support our world-class publicly funded education system and best realize student success,” said President Barb Dobrowolski, in a statement on OECTA’s website.

The Waterloo Region District School Board said it is too early to comment on the proposed legislation.

With files from CTV Toronto.

 

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