Ford government announces hikes to high school class sizes, but no changes to kindergarten

Posted on March 15, 2019 in Education Delivery System

Source: — Authors: – Politics/Provincial Politics
March 15, 2019.   By

The Ford government is boosting class sizes starting in Grade 4 through to Grade 12 while promising no layoffs — though teacher unions expect about 4,500 positions will be eliminated each year over the next four years.

The change prompted Harvey Bischof, head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, to predict “massive resistance” by his members over changes he calls “devastating” — and one he estimates will see 20 per cent of high school teaching positions eventually phased out.

Education Minister Lisa Thompson said despite moving from an average of 22 to 28 students per classroom, the plan “will not see one teacher lose their job.”

Thompson unveiled a number of education reforms Friday morning at the Ontario Science Centre, including a back-to-basics math curriculum, tweaking of the sex-ed curriculum, and a plan to have each high school student take one online credit each year.

Class sizes will remain the same from kindergarten to Grade 3, and from Grades 4-8 will increase by one student.

Thompson also announced changes to the health/sex-ed curriculum, which keeps lessons on learning the proper names of body parts in Grade 1 but moves discussion of gender identity and gender expression to Grade 8 from Grade 6.

While parents have always had the option of removing their children from sex-ed classes, the government said in a written release that “there will be clear provisions for parents who wish to exempt their child or children from sexual health education and online modules will be available for parents who want to discuss sexual health topics at home, whenever they feel their child is ready.”

Because of human rights obligations, school boards typically don’t allow students to opt out of lessons on issues of inclusion, and it is unclear how the government will accommodate families who don’t want their children to learn about gender identity.

The ministry is currently working to devise an opt-out plan on that issue.

The new health lessons will also talk about mental health and wellness in the primary years, consent and body image starting in Grade 2.

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