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Ontario Votes 2003

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Election Day: Oct. 2, 2003   

Party Platforms: Education
by Paddy Moore

Education is an unusual issue in this campaign because all three parties have anchored their platforms with the same promise: to increase spending by upwards of $2 billion annually.

But it's also on the front burner because of Ernie Eves' decision, just days before the election call, to end a teacher lockout in Toronto with legislation banning any future strikes, work-to-rule campaigns or lockouts in Ontario schools.

Here are the highlights of the education platforms from the Liberal, New Democratic and Progressive Conservative parties:

Liberal Education Platform                                 [top]
Put $1.6 billion into education, on top of the money already doled out by the Tories in response to the Rozanski report. Goes beyond Rozanski's funding recommendations.
Create a cap of 20 students for all JK to Grade 3 classrooms ($375 million over four years).
Introduce full-day JK and SK.
Scrap private school tax credit and put the resulting revenue, estimated at up to $500 million, back into the public education system.
Provide $177 million to put a moratorium on rural school closures.
Fix funding formula to address the particular needs of urban and rural schools, i.e. librarians and ESL.
Require learning to age 18.
Make mandatory the daily teaching of writing, reading and math.
Allow parents to choose schools.
End labour conflict, by showing respect for teachers by "providing professional support." No concrete measures linked to this.
Promise that 75 per cent of students will meet or exceed provincial standards on province-wide tests.
Create teaching mentors, who are released from regular duties to share skills with other teachers.
Create a Curriculum Council, an independent organization to develop curriculum.
Schools to offer child-care and parenting programs.
Improve assessment process for special education.
Tackle violence with anti-bullying programs, threat hotlines and surveillance cameras.
Establish standing committee on education with annual public hearings.
Reform Ontario College of Teachers, making it a professional body similar to the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Liberal Party Education Platform -
Post-Secondary                                                  [top]
Immediately freeze college and university tuition for at least two years.
Improve student financial aid.
Provide tuition waivers for the most needy 10 per cent of students.
Create room for 50,000 more students in post-secondary education over five years.
Double number of apprenticeships in the province.

New Democratic Party Education Platform     [top]
Immediately add $2 billion to spending in order to fully implement Rozanski report recommendations. The NDP funding hike includes adjustments for inflation.
Scrap private school tax credit, which would save $500 million a year.
Change standardized tests to become diagnostic and be held at the beginning of the year, making them more useful for students. Would not be used to rank schools and districts.
Provide $50 million to keep rural schools from closing.
Full-day JK and SK for those who want it, part of strategy for early learning that would also expand regulated child care.
Provide a principal, librarian and physical education teacher in every school.
Provide special education and ESL for all who need it.
Create an "Education Charter of Rights," with four principles: accessibility; universality; comprehensiveness; and public administration.
Create Education Commissioner to enforce Education Charter.
Bolster co-op programs, apprenticeships linked to high schools, and work with trade unions and employers to help those not eyeing university.
End the "artificial" distinction between "classroom" and "non-classroom" in the funding formula.

New Democratic Party Education Platform -
Post-Secondary                                                  [top]
Cut college and university tuition by 10 per cent.
Ensure no student is turned away from post-secondary education for financial reasons.
Reduce graduate debt-load with new student assistance program.
Give all young people who are out of school, and between the ages 16 and 19, access to training, job placement, or educational upgrading.
Scrap plans for private universities.

Progressive Conservative Party
Education Platform                                             [top]
Follow Rozanski recommendations to fix the funding formula, over three years and without adjustments for inflation.
Ban strikes, lockouts or work-to-rule campaigns during the school year.
Speed up implementation of private school tax credit.
Make mandatory a literacy requirement for graduation from high school, providing "generous" remedial help where needed.
Create school report card, where boards must annually report on staffing, salaries, enrolment, average test results, and plans to improve student performance. (posted on Ont. Web site)
Allow non-teachers to lead extra-curricular activities, and to "supplement" the work of certified teachers.
Create and appoint Ontario Education Quality Auditor, to investigate how boards are spending their allocations.
Provide $50 million to keep rural schools open.
Allow parents the freedom to choose schools (adopted from the Liberals).
Create a system for "innovation schools," which specialize in areas such as the performing arts, or business and technology.
Require anti-bullying strategies in all schools, requiring repeat bullies to complete "scared straight" programs.

Progressive Conservative Party
Education Platform - Post-Secondary           [top]
Guarantee a place for all willing and qualified students.
Provide additional $400 million for student assistance, helping an additional 40,000 students per year for 10 years.
Allow internationally based Post-Secondary schools to set up in Ontario.
Focus on trades apprenticeships with: an apprenticeship tax credit; co-op programs in college and high school; on-line training development; and $90 million for high school equipment.


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