Ottawa

Teachers protest education cuts outside Ford event in Barrhaven

Premier Doug Ford was greeted by dozens and dozens of unimpressed teachers in Ottawa Friday night, who say his planned education change will leave students worse off.

Teachers says class size increase will hurt kids

Teachers were out in force to complain about the Ford government's cuts to education (Raphael Tremblay/CBC)

Premier Doug Ford was greeted by dozens of unimpressed teachers in Ottawa Friday night, who say his planned education change will leave students worse off.

Ford was in Ottawa for an LRT announcement in the morning and then attended a party fundraising dinner in Barrhaven. As party supporters filed into the dinner, teachers and supporters waived signs, banged drums and called for "no cuts to education."

Nancy Akehurst, president of the local chapter of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, said the class size changes will make it more difficult for students to learn. (Raphael Tremblay /CBC)

Nancy Akehurst, president of the local chapter of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation, said the government's proposed larger class sizes will be bad for students.

"Students will not get some of the individual attention that they need," she said.

The government is proposing to lift class-size caps from 22 students to 28 students in high schools. Akehurst said it's important to remember that number is only an average and lifting the average could mean some very large classes.

"Today, the class average is 22, but we still have classes that are 35 students," she said. "That is calculated across the board for all secondary classes, so you could have schools that have smaller class sizes and schools that have to compensate by having larger classes."

No mandate

She said this isn't what the government promised and parents who voted for Ford's government should be wary.

"Doug Ford never ran on education cuts that was not part of any policy that he had in place when he ran, so this is coming out of the blue for us."

Teacher A.J. Blauer said his students are concerned about being in the larger classes.

"They are worried they will get loss in a sea of desks and I think that is a legitimate concern," he said.

Teacher A.J. Blauer said the government should listen to teachers if they want to find ways to reduce costs. (Raphael Tremblay )

Other options 

Blauer said he understands the financial situation the government is in and wishes the government had consulted more with teachers to find solutions.

"The government has a challenge to reduce the expenses of this province, but they are going about it the wrong way," he said. "Teachers could offer some real insight into where savings could be found."

Philip Crichton, who teaches at Ottawa's adult high school, said the proposed changes seem to come only through a financial lens.

"We just feel that the proposed changes are not going to serve students at all and they were based on money rather than on educational success," he said.

Philip Crichton, who teaches refugees and other newcomers at Ottawa’s adult high school, said the government is only looking through a financial lens and failing to consider the bigger picture. (Raphael Tremblay /CBC)

He said the class size changes in particular are a real concern.

"We are going to have desks on top of desks. It's just ill thought out and it seems to me it is focused solely on money."

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