The Toronto District School Board has entered into the annual staffing process and the news is not good. It’s a tired story that we hear every year — the school board is experiencing declining enrolment and this affects our funding and our ability to keep teachers with students. Although our elementary enrolment is starting to trend upward, our secondary schools still have to have the smaller cohort pass through them so numbers in high schools will continue to drop.
The problem with this explanation is that it only tells half the story. Half of the reduction in teachers can be attributed to the loss of students but the other half is because we don’t get enough funding from the government to adequately staff schools.
The Liberal government made a campaign promise in 2010 that it would review and improve the education funding formula. This has not happened and so the funding of our schools is based on a model that does not look at what is needed in schools.
The class cap on core high school subjects can range as high as 35 students. The funding for librarians and school support personnel is so low that smaller schools struggle to have the proper resources for students. And even large schools do not have enough adults to deal with the myriad of challenges that students face.
The board just released the preliminary results of a student census. The most striking result is that far too many students feel disconnected from their schools and do not have a supportive adult to turn to when in trouble. If we cut teachers in this next round of staffing, this important finding will be ignored.
Pay attention to your child’s high school classes in September. Ask how many students are in them. Find out how connected your son or daughter feels to the school and the work they are doing. The funding formula gets in the way of what students really need which is adults to teach them, support them, counsel them and protect them.
If you would like to protest the government’s failure to fix the funding formula, contact me at [email@example.com]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]. Tell me how you would like to be involved in making sure we have well staffed schools that connect with students.
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