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4 Ontario teachers' unions call on province to reconsider roll-out of new math curriculum

Four Ontario teachers' unions are calling on the provincial government to reconsider its plan to roll out a "back to basics" math curriculum, saying educators will have enough on their hands easing students back into the classroom after being away for months due to COVID-19.

Unions call for 2-year timeline to implement curriculum, call September start 'unrealistic'

Premier Doug Ford had been signalling his intention to revamp the math curriculum since before his government's election in 2018, though educators have warned that improving math ability among students will not be a straightforward task. (Carlos Caetano/Shutterstock)

Four Ontario teachers' unions are calling on the provincial government to reconsider its plan to roll out a "back to basics" math curriculum, saying educators will have enough on their hands easing students back into the classroom after being away for months due to COVID-19.

The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) released a joint statement Monday regarding the curriculum.

"At a time when school boards and educators are preparing for schools to safely reopen and addressing student learning gaps, it is short-sighted to require that resources be diverted from those efforts to try to comply with an unrealistic two-month timeline set by the government."

Instead of having students begin learning the new curriculum this September, the union is calling for a two-year period in which to implement it.

They say that timeline would allow for the necessary professional development and resources to support a successful roll-out.

"When schools reopen in the fall, educators will be focused on helping students transition back to school after months of school closures triggered by the pandemic," the statement said. 

"They will be focused on helping close the learning gaps and addressing mental health needs deepened by the ongoing health crisis and supporting students and their families during these uncertain times. 

"The government should be helping educators and students by directing additional supports and resources to these efforts, instead of creating more uncertainty and additional barriers."

The new math curriculum was unveiled by the Ford government earlier this week.

Premier Doug Ford had signalled his intention to revamp it since before his government's election in 2018, though educators have warned that improving math ability among students will not be a straightforward task.

Data from the Education Quality and Accountability Office, which administers the standardized tests, found that only 48 per cent of Grade 6 students were meeting provincial math standards in 2019, down from 61 per cent in 2009.

The AEFO, ETFO, OECTA and OSSTF collectively represent teachers and education workers in all publicly funded school boards.

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