High school teachers’ union warns of labour ‘disruption’ in fall over class-size changes

0
119
High school teachers’ union warns of labour ‘disruption’ in fall over class-size changes


An average high school with 800 students will lose 11 teachers — from 46 to 35 — because of changes introduced by the Ford government, the union representing secondary educators is warning.

Moving from an average of 22 students to 28 students in a class will mean thousands of jobs eliminated over the next four years — some 5,700 in English public high schools alone, said Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, warns that thousands of teaching jobs will disappear under the province’s plan to increase class sizes.
Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, warns that thousands of teaching jobs will disappear under the province’s plan to increase class sizes.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

“That equates to a loss of approximately 34,000 classes,” he said Thursday. “It means that any smaller, more specialized program is unlikely to survive. It means ballooning class sizes in any course that is not limited by issues such as student safety, as we would see in certain technology classes.”

And, he added, “it means in a fairly average high school of 800 students, by 2023, instead of the current 46 classroom teachers, there would be 35.”

Bischof also warned of upcoming “disruption” this fall, given teacher contracts expiring at the end of August, saying his members “will not concede” to bigger classes in their local agreements.

Across all school boards, about 10,000 teaching positions are expected to be eliminated, as classes in Grades 4 to 8 grow by an average of one student, and an average of six in high school. The government has said class caps in kindergarten and the primary grades will remain.

The Ontario Public School Boards Association believes the increases will “have a dramatic and harmful effect on both students and staff in secondary schools across Ontario” and is asking the government to take a “second look” as it did with its controversial autism overhaul.

“They have said that they are still doing consultations until the end of May,” said OPSBA President Cathy Abraham, adding she hopes the ministry will realize “the negative impact of such a big increase.

“It’s not just about adding six students to every class in the province. It doesn’t work like that. I’m very concerned that there will be very, very large classes in order to support the (smaller) classes that meet kids’ needs.”

As for the government’s claim that employers want young workers who are resilient — something Education Minister Lisa Thompson said larger classes help to foster — Bischof said “at a time when small, collaborative groups are the innovation engine of so many Ontario businesses, is an industrial model of 40 or 45 students in a class really going to produce students who meet employers’ needs?”

On Wednesday, Thompson told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that the government is “hearing from professors and employers alike that (youth) are lacking coping skills and they are lacking resiliency.”

“By increasing class sizes in high school, we are preparing them for the reality of post-secondary, as well as the world of work.”

Bischof called her claim “outlandish” and not supported by any research.

The government will save about $250 million in the first year alone with changes to class sizes.

Thompson has promised no teachers will be laid off and all positions eliminated will be through attrition.





Source link